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Embroidery Tips & Techniques Multi-Needle

Multi-Needle Monday: Basic Threading

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

It’s Multi-Needle Monday!  This week we cover Basic Threading Techniques.

Hmm…what color thread goes on what pin? On the Baby Lock Enterprise and the Brother Entrepreneur®, you’ll see an LED light under each thread pin. Use the LED lights as a guide, selecting a matching spool of thread for that pin.  Just like embroidering with a single needle machine, you can easily reassign a color to any portion of a design.

If they’re not already in position, slide a spool mat (a black foam disc) over each pin. They hold the spools in place without slippage or bouncing.   Place a spool of thread on the first pin (the numbers read right to left, 1 is on the far right as you face the machine).   Insert the thread into the metal thread guide A over the spool, entering the hole from the back to the front. Bring the thread forward into the second guide, thread guide B.

Open the thread tension lever on thread guide C by sliding it to the left.

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Insert the thread into the hole and close the lever (slide it to the right).

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Now insert the thread into thread guide D.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Holding the thread with two hands, pass it under the metal plate.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Wind the thread around the number 1 tension disc. Use the visual display on the machine as a helpful reminder. This step is very similar to threading a single-needle machine except you don’t see the tension discs on a single needle machine because they are encased in the plastic body of the machine.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Pull the thread around the right side of the first pin and around the left side of the second pin. Slip it under the metal plate.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Just like your single-needle machine, pull the thread down the slot (labeled 1) and back up and thread it into the take up lever (from right to left).

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Insert the thread into the hole (1) above the needle. You’re almost done!

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

There is one last thread guide to thread before the needle.  Use the threader tool to hold the thread above the needle guide and pull the thread through the curved guide.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Pull a length of thread. Touch the automatic threading mechanism button on the machine’s screen.  A fork shaped device will surround the needle.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Pull the thread under the fork and the guide on the presser foot. Pull the thread up and across the cutter (located above the needle).

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Touch the needle threading button again. Needle one is threaded!  

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Repeat for all 10 needles.  Now that you’ve threaded 10 needles, you’re a pro! You’ll know exactly how to rethread when the need arises.

There are several ways to assign thread colors to the needles. The easiest and fastest way for designs with 10 or less colors is to turn on manual color sequencing.  Go to Settings (the page icon at the bottom of the LED screen), page 5 and turn on the manual color sequence.

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After selecting a design, touch the color change icon in the embroidery editing screen. 

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

To assign a new needle bar (or spool of thread) to the first color, just touch the desired needle (the two-column list on the right). Use the spool plus icon to assign a needle bar to the second color.  

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Continue until all colors of the design are assigned to a needle bar. If you want the machine to stop after stitching a specific color, just touch the hand. It will stop the machine at that color segment.

Eileen's Machine Embroidery Blog

Even though a multi-needle machine looks much more sophisticated than a single-needle machine, it really isn’t. Yes, you do have 4, 6, 10 or 16 needles to thread but when a problem occurs, it only happens with one needle at a time. After all, that’s all that’s stitching at one time. If you own a serger, then you’re comfortable stitching with many moving parts: needle and loopers.   A mutli-needle machine is not more complicated than a single-needle, it’s just more efficient.

Tell me what’s your biggest fear about multi-needle machines?




  • Kristi D.

    Making a royal mess with all the threads.

  • Linda S

    Reminds me of threading my serger. And you HAVE to get it right! Every time I thread it I think of the nursery rhyme that goes something like this: and when she was good she was very good and when she was bad she was horrid.

    When (I remain optimistic!) I get a multi needle machine, I will master threading, I know I will. lol

  • Peggy Schroeder

    Hi Eileen, My biggest fear with my six needle machine, which by the way I haven’t had quite a year, is how to tell my husband that I think I would rather have a ten or fifteen needle machine instead! I am finding that with the designs that I do, some are complicated, and take a lot more than six colors. I have been trying to figure out a way around it, but have come up blank so far. I have the 6-needle Babylock, and one each of the Babylock and Brother sewing/embroidery machines.(They are basically just alike). The two smaller ones really have a lot of wear on them, and require more servicing than they used to. I have a lot invested in all of them, and right now can’t afford to replace any of them. It is great though, to just go in the room, and get all three machines going at the same time, Takes me out of myself, and I can just zone out, forget the dirty house, Not worry about which doctor appointment is next, or just for a little while, not think about my husband’s losing battle with cancer, and as that is the most important, it is the most difficult to do. I love my machines!!!

    • eileenroche

      Peggy, I’d give you a big hug if I could!

      • Peggy Schroeder

        Thanks, Eileen, I really appreciate the thought. Does get difficult, it is so hard to see my big strong, man lose so much weight, and get so weak. He has always been able to work all day, every day, and it is so hard on him to have to go to his recliner, instead of outside on his backhoe or tractors. We had our 47th anniversary in September, and were going on a cruise to Alaska; sadly he could not do it—-had to cancel 3 days before we were to go. Thankfully, we had travel insurance. Just think, the time will go fast, and you and Pete will be celebrating your anniversaries, too!!

  • Karen Roop

    My biggest fear is hats! I’ve done a few but forget how each time and I am afraid they will not embroider correctly. I do love my 6 needle, and my embroidery always looks great!

  • JudiC

    My biggest fear of a multineedle machin is not being able to clean it completely. For example when little tiny thread bits get behind the bobbin area which is unaccessable to clean out. My single needle has a cover that can be removed to check for stray thread bits.

  • Shirl R

    I don’t have a multi-needle, but I find these tutorials extremely interesting, thanks for doing this for us. It give those of us who don’t have a M/N machine a look at how they work. and I’m sure, are invaluable to those who already have them. My biggest fear, if I had one, would be thread breakage in the middle of a design and how many stitches the machine makes before it stops, necessitating backing back through the design to pick up those lost stitches.

    • eileenroche

      Shirl, my experience has been the machine stops almost immediately. At the most, I backup 10-20 stitches to pick up where the bobbin ran out or the thread broke. And because all of the tension discs are visible, it’t quite easy to see where the trouble is. If the needle is threaded, the bobbin is empty. If the needle is not threaded, there’s been a thread break. I’ve been very surprise and pleased to find it’s a simple as that.

  • Gail Beam

    I know I will never own a multi needle embroidery machine, but I found the tutorial interesting, as I do all of your tutorials. They are always a learning experience, and I like learning about new things.

  • Karin

    I was soooooo close to purchasing, just last week. The size of the machine stopped me, tho (especially combined with the cost!!), as I just barely have room for the serger, the cutting table and the new Ellisimo. Yeah, just couldn’t say NO, so now I have to sell the Ellegante, ‘cuz there’s just no more room at the inn! 🙁

  • Maga

    My biggest fear if I do jump for a multi needle machine when my combo machine die is that I will not get time enough to use it enough to justify the cost to the family. It is like the combo machine even though it only embroiders now is more acceptable as a hobby tool because it can do more than one thing. Silly I know but there we are.

  • janice

    I don’t own a multi needle but I’m curious when you do applique, is it the same as with a single needle taking the hoop off the machine to trim? It sounds dumb when I ask but some designs seems like you are sewing and cutting the every few minutes

  • Joann

    I have a Janome MB4 and I too was concerned about all the stopping to trim etc, when doing applique,but soon learned how to set up the machine to stop when I needed it to and all is well now. I love my machine!!

  • Irma Clements

    I have a Brother pre1000 and love it.I would like to do the manuel set up but worried I will muck it up for the automatic part.Is it easy to go back to it,thanks Irma

  • Pat

    I got a 12 needle commercial type machine for Christmas. I’m learning a lot about it as far as what to do if the thread breaks, fixing a needle case error, and doing some of the “tweaking” it takes to make it run right. When this machine runs well it’s wonderful – changes its own colors, and it’s speedy. When it needs help I learn a lot about how the thing works. Love the way I can see the thread path. Don’t have to take it in for $ervice every time a thread gets hung up.

  • Laurie

    I have a six needle. I have not attempted to do hats. That whole thing scares me . And when I use the monster hoop I ‘m always afraid the needle will hit the hoop. But, I love my multi needle machine and wish I had more to play!

  • Berenice

    Keeping up on these, maybe some day Santa will bring the machine of my dreams done the chimney. Oh, maybe I need the chimney first? I was also curious about the applique procedure. Do you have to take the hoop off to trim?

  • Gretchen Hopkins

    I find it’s easier to thread threading center needle on each side to outer needle. On right side start on 5 and work out to one, and on the left start with 6 and move out to 10. I don’t get threads tangled up.

  • Jane in CT

    Hi, This is my first time reading this blog and already it is a favorite. I really want a M/N machine but I didn’t know if it was complicated to run and also I would need to start selling things to keep the costs down. I am going to read this this every day and then decide if I would use it enough to justify what I would have to without to buy it.


  • Karen

    Nothing really just don’t have the money to get one. Hope to soon.

  • Irma Clements

    I loved your article, can we have more on the multi-needle machines,I have a brother pr1000e. Thanks a lot. Keep up the good work

  • annette Rady

    Well–I’m almost the owner of the BL 10 needle… had a minor interruption with job loss… Now I am settled again and I will finish paying for it…I’m still a little afraid of the whole process but I figure that if the Elegante and the Ellisimo can be mastered, so can the MN. Everyone who has one raves about it, so I keep that focus in front of me.. if they can– so can I. It will mean a whole new level of accomplishment, creativiity and Productivity. Anyway….loving MN Mondays… gives me real inspiration and aspirations.

  • Roslyn

    Just found this site . Yahoooooo. I’m the “new” owner of a 6 needle and I have the laserlight to show where centre is etc. I recently made a big boo boo on a quilt square I was embroidery and low and behold after “unpicking” ( yes I know I’m silly) I found the correct place not once but twice and finished the block. I’m so pleased with myself and I’m new to the machine . The Quilt is “Infinity” by the girls at The sewing revolution and this is the 2 nd Quilt I’ve made but the first with the multi needle/ I’ll be tuning in to this site for help when I need it. So thank you regards Ros /Australia

  • Francine Meyer

    I am so excited! I just purchased the Enterprise. I was so excited to find your blogs. I will see you on the cruise in a few months. I just had to take a break from trying to set up Mr. Big.

  • Deborah

    Just bought a Baby Lock Enterprise Monday. Used your step by step instructions to thread it last night. I tried to stitch my first design this morning, but got a message to check the upper and lower threads. After several more attempts, all ten lights under the spools started flashing orange. I’m guessing I didn’t thread them correctly, so I will try again. Oh, I did forget to close the thread tension lever. Could that be my problem? :/

  • gratisseks

    Ur blo is very interesting to us. I will thnx u very much to sharing the interesting information.

  • Sylvie Dubis

    I have the 10 needle Babylock, my question is why does some thread get really tight and it want cut the thread.

  • Sylvie Dubis

    I need help with my threads. One when I used will get so tight that the machine want be able to cut.

  • Sam

    Thank you for posting the step-by-step and detailed pictures. The Babylock Manual is quite confusing.

  • ginnie

    using my endurance 2 6 needle embroidery machine has not been easy, no classes offered. Finally learning myself has been a challenge . i bought plastic sides bobbin thread, found they are not wound evenly causing the machine to stop. back to the paper sides bobbin and will wind my own. is there a group of people that use this 6 needle machine that i can join sharing problem’s and projects?

  • Paula Hendrickson

    I hit the clear button when assigning colors and now thread # 9 & 10 are not available to use. How do I get all 10 threads back to be able to choose which thread I want assigned or available to swap?

  • Carpenter Amy

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  • Catherine R Conley

    Thanks for the info. I have a new ti me, old Babylock EMP6. I am trying to figure out how to set up the needles for a design that has more than 6 colors. I have not assigned colors to any needle as I change designs and colors often. How is this di e in manual mode?

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