Thursday, February 25, 2010

Machine Fridays - Sew, A Needle Pulling Thread

I get asked this question at least once a day, what needle do I need to buy? In turn I ask what type of fabric are you sewing on and what kind of thread are you going to be using?

Sewing machine needles are the cheapest part of your sewing machine. If you have a dual needle it could tear your fabric. Most people just continue to use the needle that came in their machine until it breaks. Needles DO NOT last forever, they should be replaced approximately every four to six hours and at the beginning of every project. Replacing your needle, is the easiest way to improve your stitch quality.

Change your needle when; you have broken or shredded threads, skipped stitches, puckered fabrics, damaged fabric, uneven threads or you sew over a pin or hit a zipper. If you are having trouble with skipping or the needle makes a popping noise (dull or blunted point) as it sews, it is past time to change the needle.

DO NOT sew over pins or zippers. The needle could break and hit you in the eye. Also, it can throw the timing of your sewing machine off, whereupon you would need to take it in for servicing.

The photo above shows you how a stitch is formed.

The eye of the needle should be 40% larger than the diameter of the thread. When going to a larger size of thread a larger needle should be used. Use the appropriate needle for the type of fabric being sewn. Size 80 needles works great for 40 weight thread, 75 would be great for 50 weight thread. The finer the thread and the finer the fabric that is being sewn, the finer the needle.

If you have any problems with your stitches, try changing your needle. Most people that bring their machine in because of skipped stitches, it's because of the needle and we charge them upwards of $100 and it only costs us $ 0.25.

More Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina is a must for every sewer. This book includes 100 different types of fabrics and tells you everything from what type of sewing foot to use, what is the best seam to use for the type of fabric, what needle to use and even the setting of your iron. I like to use it in the shop to help people select the right needle for their project and it helps sell the book.

Until next time,

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  1. Very interesting video of the stitches being made. I'm not great about changing needles, either. I think I want to get some titanium needles soon...heard they have a longer life and don't need to be changed as often??

  2. I love your demo of a machine stitch so much I linked to it here

    I needed the reminder on choosing the correct needle size too!

    Warm regards,
    Scarlett Burroughs
    Quilting Editor, Craft Gossip

  3. Thanks Charlie. I am really good at cleaning my machine - BUT I forget to change the needle until I have a problem. Before I sew another stitch, I need to change that needle.

  4. Great animation - always wondered how stitches were formed - thought it was just the sewing fairy that lives in my machine! :P

  5. Thanks Charlie, great advice, I buy my needles in bulk I sew that much I use plenty of them :)

  6. Charlie, I have missed your humor. I accidentally removed myself as a follower of your blog. I'll have to catch up. Didn't know you worked in a machine repair shop. How nice that must be. Lane

  7. I have always sewn for many hours everyday, I used to alterations for a living and would work 50+ hours a week on two home machines. I learned early to change my needle often and use the right size for the right job. Some people hate to sew because of problems with their machines and it most times is either a build up of lint or the wrong dull old needle!.

  8. Thanks for the info. I need to change my needle more often. I usually change it before a new project but not as often as I should.

  9. Thanks for the great advice. I'm new to sewing and imagine this info will save me a lot of frustration. Thanks!


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