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How to Thread a Highlead Industrial Sewing Machine

Updated on February 18, 2019

Getting Started

A lot of sewing goes on with horses and children, as both seem incredibly prone to ripping and tearing everything they wear. Unlike the children, the horse's clothes are awfully rough on my Babylock sewing machine - the feed dogs bog down, the material bunches, and the machine just is not happy with the work load. With an eye toward a side hustle, I purchase a Highlead Industrial walking-foot sewing machine. I bought from the same local sewing machine shop that I bought my babylock, and I am so glad I did.

There are the instructions for threading the machine:


These are the instructions that come with the machine.
These are the instructions that come with the machine.

The image is 3"x2.25", and despite having excellent vision, I can't see a darned thing. I spent two hours in hopeless confusion trying to figure out what's going on and thread the machine. The following photos will include the caption from the instructions on how to thread this machine. The foot should be in the down position.

Adjust the Thread Bar

"Raise the needle bar to it's highest point..." The silver piece under the dark gray plastic is the take-up lever. Turn the wheel until this is at its highest point and the needle is as well.
"Raise the needle bar to it's highest point..." The silver piece under the dark gray plastic is the take-up lever. Turn the wheel until this is at its highest point and the needle is as well.

From the Thread Stand

"...lead the thread from the thread stand in the following order." This is the thread stand. Bring your thread upward from the holder and go from back to front through the corresponding hole in the arm.
"...lead the thread from the thread stand in the following order." This is the thread stand. Bring your thread upward from the holder and go from back to front through the corresponding hole in the arm.

Pin 1

"...lead the thread from back to front through the lower guide hole in pin 1 on top of the machine arm, then again from right to left through the upper guide hole in this pin."
"...lead the thread from back to front through the lower guide hole in pin 1 on top of the machine arm, then again from right to left through the upper guide hole in this pin."

The plate on top of the machine (aka, the machine arm) is pin 1. The more you wrap the thread around the pin, the more tension is on the thread. For my thread, I went from back to front from the 3rd hole from the left, then around the back and through the first hole on the left. Thread from right to left, going through from the back and then wrapping around from the front.

Guide 2

"Pass thread in a weaving fashion through the three holes in guide 2"
"Pass thread in a weaving fashion through the three holes in guide 2"

This piece can be positioned with the holes horizontal (as shown) or vertical. When positioned horizontally, thread from right to left. When positioned vertically, thread from top to bottom.

There are two ways to thread: the weaving fashion or wrapped (as shown). Wrapping provides less tension for lighter thread. The vertical or horizontal positioning is for ease of threading.

Tension Disc

"From right to left over and between the tension disc 3"
"From right to left over and between the tension disc 3"
"Now pull thread downward..."
"Now pull thread downward..."

The gray plastic knob is the tension adjuster, the spring provides the tension, and behind the spring are the tension discs. Run the thread counter clockwise over the top and downward, then up toward the right. In the second photo, the thread controller is the very, very small pin at approximately 4 o'clock on the tension discs. Go up and over this pin, then back down.

"...from right to left beneath and around thread controller 4, continue to pull thread upward against the pressure of the wire spring into the fork 5, in the thread controller. Guide upward through the point of controller discs 6..."
"...from right to left beneath and around thread controller 4, continue to pull thread upward against the pressure of the wire spring into the fork 5, in the thread controller. Guide upward through the point of controller discs 6..."

As you pull up (going counter-clockwise from underneath the thread controller), hold the thread from behind pin 1. The thread will push against the spring on the thread controller. There is a hook (they call it a "point") behind the thread controller that should catch the thread. To verify you have caught the thread on the hook, release the thread and it should stay up. You can feel the thread snap into place behind the hook when it catches.

Thread Guide 7

Coming up from the controller disc (and then after threading the take-up lever in the next step), holding tension on the thread, go from left to right to snap the thread underneath the thread guide.

Take-up Lever 8

"...from right to left through the eye in take-up lever 8..."
"...from right to left through the eye in take-up lever 8..."

9, 10, 11, and 12

"through 9, 10, 11 and from left to right through the eye of the needle 12."
"through 9, 10, 11 and from left to right through the eye of the needle 12."

It is very, very important to make sure to thread the needle from left to right. Going from right to left can damage your machine.

The thread should also go through the hole underneath the needle. Raise the foot and tTurn the balance wheel to drop the needle and then all the way back up. Using a tool (scissors, pencil, etc) slide underneath the foot to catch the thread and pull off to the side. Alternatively, hold the thread to the side when you start sewing.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 katesaidan

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