Sewing Machine Thread Spool Pin Tips

There are so many different types of threads to use with your sewing machine! Not only is there a multitude of thread types, but threads come on all different kinds of spools, and can be wound on the spool in different ways.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Learn the basics about thread spools and how to best use each type with your sewing machine. We’ll cover when to use the horizontal or vertical spool pins on your sewing machine (BERNINA 5 Series, 7 Series, and some other models), and how to use a thread stand.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Before we look at best ways to mount thread spools on your sewing machine, let’s look at how threads are wrapped on a spool. Generally you will find thread wrapped either in a cross-wound style, or in a stacked style.

Cross-Wound Thread Spools

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Cross-wound thread will create an “X” looking pattern on the spool. Here are several examples of cross-wound spools from left to right, Gutermann Sew-All thread, Aurifil 50 wt cotton thread, Mettler 50 wt silk finish cotton thread, and Isacord 40 wt embroidery polyester thread. Notice the different types of spools, some have one larger end, and some are the same on both ends. There are even cross-wound cones of thread you can use, which are too big to mount on your sewing machine (and we’ll look at these later).

Stacked Thread Spools

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Stacked thread is wound around a spool so it stacks up, one row of thread on top of another. It creates lines parallel to the ends of the spool. These examples include from left to right, Coats & Clark heavy quilting thread, Coats & Clark Dual Duty thread, Madeira rayon embroidry thread, and Coats & Clark Heavy Duty thread. Thread spools that are stacked are generally symmetrical on both ends.

How to Mount Cross-Wound Threads

Let’s look at mounting four different types of cross-wound spools of thread on a sewing machine. As a general rule, cross-wound threads work best when feeding-off one end of the spool. Use either a horizontal spool pin on your sewing machine, a free-standing thread stand compatible with cross-wound spools, or the addition of a sewing machine mounted thread stand.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

You will need a foam pad and spool cap to mount cross-wound thread on your vertical spool pin.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Start by mounting the foam pad on the spool pin, foam side facing the thread spool. The foam pad is there to keep the thread from getting caught behind the thread spool while you are sewing.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

If you thread spool has one large end and one small end, always mount the larger end to the back of the spool pin.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Use a spool cap that best fits over the end of the thread spool. The thread cap should hold the spool securely in place with no space between the thread cap and spool. This cross-wound spool is now securely mounted.

You can also use a free-standing thread stand.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

I use a basic thread stand from Superior Threads (ask your local BERNINA store if they carry this stand). This thread stand has options to mount both cross-wound spools, stacked spools, small spools, and large cones. (And no, the cute kitty sticker does not come on the thread stand, I added it myself!)

https://www.brewersewing.com/p-1031632-superior-thread-holder-spool-cone-acrylic-stand.aspx

To use the Superior Threads stand with this cross-wound Aurifil spool, the spool pin is mounted on the bottom. The spool sits right on the spool pin, and gravity does the rest. The thread end goes through the guides on the stand, and you are ready to thread the machine.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

The proper placement of the thread stand is near the end of your machine. You can place it close to the right side, or to the back. Use the thread guide near the horizontal spool pin on the machine to start threading through the machine.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Now let’s look at how to mount two other styles of cross-wound spools to your horizontal spool pin.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

This cross-wound Gutermann spool of thread does have two ends that look the same, but look closer. One end has a starred, spiky end meant to catch and hold the loose thread end when not in use. This spiky end can catch and pull the thread when feeding off this end, so make sure to place this end to the back of the spool pin against the foam pad.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

This larger spool also need the larger sized spool cap. Now the spool is mounted properly and can feed smoothly off of the spool pin.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

This spool of Mettler is the same on both ends, and there’s nothing stopping the thread from feeding smoothly off either side of the spool. In this case, place the spool on the spool pin so the thread is feeding over the top of the spool. Use an appropriate spool cap, and you’re reading to finish threading and start sewing.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Another option for your BERNINA is to use the Multiple-spool holder that can mount on the back of the machine.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

The Multiple-spool holder is compatible with a wide range of sewing machines. The holder can be used with cross-wound spools of all sorts, and is large enough to use with cones of thread. And there are extensions you can purchase to add more room for spools! Just check with your local BERNINA store staff to ask about purchasing the Multiple-spool holder for your model BERNINA.

What if the spool or cone is too large to mount directly on your machine? Here’s where either the Multiple-spool holder or free-standing thread stand come in handy.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew 1620 x 1080 09

The Superior Threads stand comes with a special adapter for use with cones. Insert the adapter over the spool pin to mount a cross-would cone.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew 1620 x 1080 09

Place the thread stand near your machine, start threading with the thread guide on top of the machine near the horizontal spool pin, and you are ready to start sewing!

How to Mount Stacked Threads

Let’s look at mounting stacked thread spools on a sewing machine. As a general rule, stacked thread works best when feeding off the side of the spool, spinning freely as the thread unwinds. Use a vertical spool pin on your sewing machine, a free-standing thread stand compatible with stacked spools, or the addition of a sewing machine mounted thread stand.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Use your built-in vertical spool pin to mount a stacked thread spool on your machine.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Add a foam pad to the base of the spool pin to help keep the thread from coming off and wrapping on the pin underneath the thread spool.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

Place the spool on top of the spool pin, and make sure that the spool can move freely when pulling thread from the spool. Sometimes a sticky label may cause the spool to occasionally catch on the pin while sewing.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

There is no need to add a spool cap to the pin, gravity will hold the spool of thread on the foam pad while you sew.

Threading your sewing machine from WeAllSew

You can also use a thread stand if it is compatible with stacked spools. The Superior Threads stand allows you to move the spool pin from the vertical to a horizontal position, allowing the thread spool to spin as the thread winds off the spool. In this case, a spool cap is used just to keep the spool from spinning off the end of the horizontal spool pin. Place at the end of your machine and begin the threading process through the machine with the top thread guide near the horizontal spool pin. And now you’re ready to start sewing!

23 thoughts on “Sewing Machine Thread Spool Pin Tips

  1. I believe this is the most useful article I’ve ever seen on weallsew. I already understood the difference between cross-wound and stacked, but my Bernina manual doesn’t explain how to use the cap and the foam. I also have the Superior stand and couldn’t figure out the best placement for it. Thanks so much.

  2. This was all very useful. Could you update with suggestions for metallic threads? I’ve heard so many differing tips – far distance from machine, spool should be horizontal even though its stacked, etc.

    1. Hi cjswan, there are so many different types of metallic threads out there, I think how you use it depends on the type (and what you’re making). BERNINA makes some tools such as a Thread Lubrication Unit that can help smooth metallic threads, and you can check in with your local BERNINA store staff to find out more. I’d suggest a chat with the BERNINA store staff about the exact type of metallic thread you want to use for best tips!

  3. Yes, agree this is a fabulous article with helpful information that can help every sewist. I learned some of the thread winding information during my classes for my new B770QE, 5 years ago. We all need this info and it has helped me with things like thread nests, tension and other regular hastles of machine sewing. My sincere thanks to Bernina for their commitment to educating Bernina users! I’m a proud and loyal Bernina user since 1973.

    Sue Hall

  4. I agree with Chris K – most useful article I’ve ever seen. I have 7 Berninas. I have taken the mastery class for the 3 machines I bought brand new and NONE of those classes told me to put the foam pad on when using the horizontal pin. Some of the spools are too long to do that.

  5. Very useful article, but I have a question. I have a 570QE and when I am using a stacked thread spool and try to cut the thread with the automatic thread cutter, I get back spin, and the thread gets under the foam pad and tangles around the spool pin. I am using the vertical spool pin. Any help and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    1. Thank you for asking this question. I too have had this issue. It was very frustrating because I didn’t realize what was happening at first and my thread kept breaking at the needle because thread was wound around and caught under the vertical spool. When I asked this question in the Bernina Lovers Facebook group, some of the comments were I shouldn’t use the stacked threads, put spool on a thread stand, or just put the spool on the horizontal spool pin.

      I find it a strange that there is this issue with such an expensive machine.

      1. I have wondered about EXACTLY this same issue. Today I returned a horizontal thread guide I purchased on Amazon partly because of the “back spin” I got when utilizing the device. Never mind that the thread guide really did not fit very good on my Bernina 480. But I find myself with the same question you bring up – how to deal with the back spin I get when I use the automatic thread cutter. I don’t believe the acceptable response should be to not use the automatic thread cutter when used stacked thread. And yes, I also agree that it “strange” that there is this issue with such an expensive machine. I have also experienced other issues with my B480 and B500 that I don’t think should exist given the fact that these are state of the art machines. Their prices warrant better responses and support from the dealers I purchased the machines from other than shoulder shrugs and raised eyebrows. I’m tired of hearing that I am the only person to have such issues. ** sigh **

        1. I have had same problem with horizontal spools and thread cutter. After a lot of trial, error and research I found a solution! Tubular bandage size 01- it is a soft and stretchy tube to put on injured fingers. You push it (using a long awl) thro the spool from the left side as it will sit on the pin- to the RH end – then open it to cover the spool – then fold it back on itself leaving some of the spool thread showing (1/2″ ) so that the left hand edge of the bandage is a fold – then cut off the inside left hand end leaving ust a little bit sticking out of LH the edge of the spool. Then very carefully you slide it on to the spool pin – hang onto the end you just cut. Slide on a spool cap – probably a large one . Check that the thread is running freely and you are good to go. It is a bit of a palaver but once I have put a piece on I keep it on the spool removing the spool and bandage and storing them like that. I find this is the best way to use invisible thread too. I use Madeira for applique and quilting- and I use my automatic thread cutter all the time. Love it!

        2. Just to make it clear I should have said the above is a “stacked threads” solution and I use the horizontal spool holder even though that is not what is recommended.

  6. This has been very useful. The Aurifil spool bases are removable and can be attached at either end. That way the thread always comes over the top towards you!

  7. Great overview on thread spools and how the different wound spools are to be oriented on the machine. One question no one has covered as far as thread path & thread guides is the one on top (directly behind the bobbin winder) of the machine & looks like a small paper clip- when are you suppose to use it? Baffled that no instructor has ever threaded it using that guide when I’ve been in classes ?

    1. I am so glad to hear that someone else has asked about that little metal paper clip-like guide. I asked my dealer about it just last Friday (November 6, 2020). I have a B500 & B-480, which both have that metal guide. The dealer did not know what it is for and when it would be used. He just gave me a sad puppy-dog look and said I could TRY passing my thread through it and see what happens. What?!? I thought Bernina dealers were all highly trained and knowledgeable. Once again, I **sigh**.

      1. I had to create a user just to answer that because stuff like this grinds my gears. Really, people, are you THAT s..pid? It took me about 2 (yes, TWO) minutes to download the manual for Bernina 480 to find what that thread guide is for! PAGE 44 FOR YOUR 480. Read your damn manual folks! P.S. besides being used for threading when sewing with double or triple needle, it’s mentioned in the section about metallic/silk threads that it can be used for extra control of the thread. Had to look it up because my basic Bernina does not have it.

  8. Thank you for the good information I own a 1090 with just a vertical spool pin and rarely have a problem with cross wound threads. I do have a thread stand I use occasion. I believe the text under the first illustration for cross wound threads should read HORIZONTAL thread pin rather than vertical.

  9. I’ve been unknowingly using the foam pad upside down for years! And I never knew it should be used on the horizontal pin. Also, I’ve seen conflicting information from various sources on whether the thread should feed off the horizontal spool in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. This article settled the question for me. Many thanks!

  10. I am a little confused. Under the first cross thread picture it says, “You will need a foam pad and spool cap to mount cross-wound thread on your VERTICAL spool pin [caps are mine],” yet the picture shows the spool on the horizontal pin. Did you mean horizontal pin instead of vertical? THANKS!!!

Leave a Reply