We’ve been focusing on cross stitch tools a lot lately, however, there’s one in particular that I personally don’t use; the needle threader. The reason I don’t use them? They break. A lot.
This is actually an accepted reason to shun needle threaders, even though they’re helpful, and the first thing that came to your head, if you use them or not, was breakages. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there is a whole slew of needle threader types out there, and there’s only one that breaks.
The One That Breaks
It would be remiss of me to start this list without mentioning the elephant in the room; the threader that everyone knows, and loathes. Let’s start with the positives, as after all, they do work well as needle threaders. They’re also dirt cheap, and easy to find. More often than not you can get them free in a hotel sewing kit or buy 100 of them for a few dollars.
But that’s kinda where it ends. You see, these things are effectively a small wire, and as a result, break often. Way too often. The wire might break, bend, or come free from the handle part. They’re also super hard to hold (especially the cheaper metal handle ones)
Clover Needle Threader
But fear not! Someone has improved the design. Clover was the first, so we’ve shown them here, but essentially they’ve taken the flimsy wire and made it a thin flat bit of metal. They work exactly the same other than that, however, thanks to their thickness are only really useful for cross stitch (which let’s face it, you love). But this all comes at a price that is kinda over the top for what it is. Considering the other options on our list (like the one below) are often cheaper, it feels like these are better, but still not great.
LoRan Needle Threader
So now we look at the better alternatives. The LoRan needle threader as it has come to be known is a new take on a needle threader, which is loaded on the side, and hooked through the eye. They’re a simple sheet of metal, so still super cheap (it’s worth getting them online where they’re a few cents each, rather than the store where they can be a shocking $5 or more), but they’re also better in every way.
The hooks on both sides give you options for smaller and larger needles (or eyes) and are super sturdy. They can also be combined into needle minders like the one above by NeedleKeep Emporium. And finally, it’s the easiest one on our list to actually thread.
But there are things to be careful about. The hooks are kinda large, so if you use really small needles, such as petites you might not be able to fit them, and you need to be careful not to bend the hooks when they’re in your kit, or threading the needles will become SUPER hard.
I personally really rate these needle minders, I now use them myself. I rate them so much that we’re even offering one in our free giveaway this month!
Dritz Looped Needle Threaders
Whilst the LoRan needle threader is my go-to, that doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone. We already discussed above how petite needle users will struggle, and the possibility of hook bending might ruin your day, and so Dritz (who also came up with the LoRan needle threader) came up with something that might help; the looped needle threader.
You need to think of this as a ring of wire, however, they make it in such a way that there is no join, and the wire has been pressed into a long spike. You feed the thread into the ring and then you use the wire to thread the needle. In my mind, this kinda defeats the point as the wire is just as hard to thread, but it can be a lifesaver on sewing machines.
That doesn’t mean they’re all bad though, as these are cheap, super hardy, come in a multipack and we couldn’t break them; and we tried really hard.
Hummingbird Needle Threader
And now we come to the final, the true ‘best’ of the list. The hummingbird. Ignoring the fun shape for a second, it’s a hooked wire which you thread the needle onto, and then the thread. It’s been created to fit everyone’s needs. It has a cover so it doesn’t break, it’s cheap, it’s small so will go through any needle, it has a hook system so you don’t need to look too closely to hook it on, and it’s user-friendly. However, the fact that it tried to fix all these problems at once, for me, means it doesn’t really fix any. There are cheaper ones out there, there are ones that break less often, there are ones more suited to smaller needles, there are easier ones to work, and there are simpler forms. Sadly, for me, it falls short.
Heaven And Earth Designs Needle Threader
Many people have asked for an update on this post specifically asking about the HAED needle threaders, which people on cross stitch forums are talking a lot about!
In short, this needle minder is a combination of both the Hummingbird Needle Threader, and the Dritz Looped Needle Threader. By combining the two you get a sturdy point to place into the eye, and a large space to push the thread in. A win-win!
Automatic Needle Threaders
What about automatic needle threaders I hear you say! Well, there are some out there that do a good job. I’m not going to pretend otherwise either, as some work on magic I swear. However, there is one big thing that gets me about automatic needle threaders. They’ve been around for about 50 years and in that time have been tried by countless thousands of embroidery fans, however, I don’t know a single one that uses theirs. Instead, they use a manual one.
There are a two main reasons for this. The first is that whilst automatic needle minders are great, they have a poor hit/miss ratio, with many working less than half the time. The second issue is that the reason they often only work half the time is most are made for standard sewing needles, not tapestry needles. These needles have a larger eye which doesn’t fit the mechanics as well, and can sometimes cause the eyes to break!
There are specific models out there though that are for tapestry needles, including the Infila Automatic Hand Needle Threader, which has a large needle eye size, and a smaller needle eye size.
If you’re interested in how to use any of the above needle threaders, our friend Peacock & Fig have a super video.