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Old English þræd "fine cord, especially when twisted" (related to þrawan "to twist"), from Proto-Germanic *thrædus (cf. Middle Dutch draet, Dutch draad, Old High German drat, German Draht, Old Norse þraðr), from suffixed form of root *thræ- "twist" (see throw). Meaning "spiral ridge of a screw" is from 1670s. Threads, slang for "clothes" is 1926, American English.
"to put thread through a needle," mid-14c., from thread (n.); in reference to film cameras from 1913. The dancing move called thread the needle is attested from 1844. Related: Threaded; threading.