A quick guide to sewing machine needles

There are so many sewing machines out there and so many types of sewing machine needles. Buying the correct needle and needle size for your project is essential. Using the correct needles can prevent broken threads, skipped stitches and give you a professional finish - not to mention, save you from a stressful sewing session. 

 

There are many brands of needles on the market worldwide but it is worth investing in a well known, trusted brand because cheap sewing machine needles tend to break a lot easier. My personal favourite brand is Schmetz

 

It's always a good idea to test the needle size on a small scrap of the fabric that you will be sewing to make sure that it works. This quick guide will be focusing on domestic sewing machines needles. 

 

What do the numbers mean on sewing machine needles?

There are two numbers on a needle, the smaller number relates to the American system and ranges from 8 to 20 and the larger number is for the European system and ranges from 60 to 120.

 

The numbers on the needles relate to the thickness of the needle, for example a 90 needle is 0.9 mm in diameter. The thicker the needle the thicker the fabric it can sew or the more layers it can handle. 

 

What size needle should I use?

This all depends on what kind of fabric you intend on sewing, here is a little chart to give you an idea of the size of needle you require for types of fabric.

Are you using the correct threads?

Remember to use the correct thread for the needles you are using. If the thread is either too heavy or too fine for the needle it can cause problems with your sewing. A guide to threads can be found here.

 

Why do needles break?

Breaking needles can be caused by not using the right needle for your project, for example, if you tried sewing heavy denim with a size 70 needle it would just break as the needle is not thick and strong enough to handle such a thick fabric. 

Broken needles can also be a result of not inserting them properly. Make sure to refer to your sewing machine manual to ensure your needle is inserted correctly. 

 

How often should I change my needle?

Needles should be changed after 6 hours of sewing or at the end of a project, whichever comes first. If ever you have a stitching problem, the first thing you should do is to change your needle.

 

You should check your needle if your machine has a significant jam as this can sometimes bend your needle or blunt the needle.

 

If your needle is making an unusual thumping sound as it penetrates the fabric, then it is an indication that you need to change the needle. 

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