How to thread a tufting gun in three simple steps

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If you just picked up your first tufting gun and are ready to make your first rug, you’ve likely hit your first hurdle: getting the yarn into the machine.

Here’s a quick guide to how to thread a tufting gun, plus a few helpful tips for newbie tufters.

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How to thread a tufting gun

How to thread a tufting gun supplies
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

It just takes a few seconds, but here’s what you need to thread a tufting gun:

  • Tufting gun
  • Yarn
  • Yarn threader (or alternative)

If you’re sure what a yarn threader is, it’s a simple wire loop that is usually used to get thread on a needle. They’re super cheap to buy online (buy several because they’re easy to lose), but if you’re in a hurry I’ll explain how to make an alternative at the end of the post.

Check out our guide to all the essential tufting supplies you’ll need if you’re still buying out your kit!

Step 1: Turn off or unplug your tufting gun

How to thread a tufting gun step 1 turn off
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Even if you’re in the middle of a project, you should turn off (and possibly unplug) your tufting gun when you thread it.

There’s typically a switch on the side of the machine to do this, with a light to indicate when the power is on.

Step 2: Thread the yarn through the yarn guide

How to thread a tufting gun step 2
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Next you need to thread your yarn through the yarn guide at the top of the machine. This hole is quite large, so you can easily pull it through with your fingers.

I’ve heard that some tufting guns don’t have a yarn guide, which is not ideal. You can make your own with a length of wire and attach it to the top bearing if this is the case.

Note that I’m threading two lengths of the same color yarn here. I highly recommend using two threads as it leads to better coverage and fewer instances of your yarn slipping out. Check out my guide to the best tufting yarn for more recommendations.

Step 3: Thread the yarn through the needle

How to thread a tufting gun step 3 threader
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Now it’s time to use the yarn threader. Slip the end of your yarn threader through the bottom of the hole in your tufting gun needle. If you can’t see the hole, turn the gear manually until you can.

How to thread a tufting gun step 3 through loop
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Next, thread the yarn into the loop of your yarn threader at the top. It doesn’t matter if you pull too much through, you can fix this later.

How to thread a tufting gun step 3 pull
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Finally, pull the yarn threader down until your yarn is all the way through the needle. Put your threader somewhere safe (so you don’t lose it).

You can now pull the yarn gently from the top if you’ve pulled too much through. Make sure to leave at least 2 inches (~5cm) so it doesn’t accidentally unthread.

How to make a DIY yarn threader

Yarn threader alternative
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

If you don’t have a yarn threader, it’s easy to make an alternative with a thin paperclip or piece of wire.

Just pull it flat, then fold a tight hook at the end with a pair of pliers. It will need to be quite small to fit through the eye of your tufting needle.

Why does the yarn keep coming out of my tufting gun?

Yarn double thread tufting gun
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

If your yarn keeps coming out of your tufting gun, it’s typically because of a snag in your feeding yarn. For the best results, make sure your yarn can feed freely from above by adding a small metal loop or hook toward the top of your frame.

Another potential issue is that your yarn is too thin. If this is the case, thread two or three lengths of yarn at once to prevent slippage. This will also result in better, thicker coverage.

To get more than one thread on a single cone, consider investing in a yarn winder. It’s worth it for dedicated tufters!

That’s it for this guide to threading a tufting gun! Any more questions or tips? Drop them in the comments below.

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