When you buy your Sewing Machine, the chances are that it will work really efficiently for many years, as long as you follow the maintenance instructions. Many major manufacturers are so confident of their product that they provide a 25 years warranty. But when it comes to Sewing machine needles that is all together a different ball game.
Usually, it’s not until your sewing machine starts providing you with stitching that is less than your usual standard that you realise that you have a problem. You go through the maintenance program (found in your manual) but you still encounter difficulties e.g.
The stitches start to ‘slip’ and become uneven.
Your tensions appear uneven.
Threads start to fray.
Fabric threads are pulled into the machine and get tangled in the feed-dogs and wrap around the bobbin.
Generally your work looks shoddy.
At this point you may feel like putting the machine away at the back of a cupboard for a long, long time. But there may be a very simple solution. Change the needle. Over time and use the needle gets blunt and it gets increasingly difficult for the needle to penetrate the fabric. This gives a less than crisp look to any piece of work and can be quite devastating for any project including quilting, both in the piecing phase and actual quilting.
Ideally you need to pull out a new needle for every new sewing project and for larger projects you may need to change your needle more than once.
Using a new needle should not just apply to sewing machine needles but also for hand sewing including embroidery and needle-point.
Changing your needle for every project is not extravagant, its common sense. It took me quite a while to come around to the reasoning that it was good economic sense, saving me a lot of frustration and time that had previously been spent unpicking seams.
Buying needles for your sewing machine
You can buy needles that are specifically made for your machine or you can use the generic variety. Preferably never compromise on quality. You may not want to spend out too much to begin with if you are kitting yourself out for your new interest but there are a few items that you really need to focus on quality.
There are domestic and industrial needles. Don’t buy industrial needles for your sewing machine in the hope that they will last longer, as the chances are they won’t fit. Only domestic needles have the flat edge on the shank (upper part of the needle). This flat side means that you can correctly align you needle in the machine and then tighten it place using the needle clamp screw.
Generally when you buy a packet of sewing machine needles, there is a good indication on the packet what fabric is the best for the size of needle so you don’t have to memorise the information.
- Practise changing the needle. You may find this a bit fiddly to begin with but after a few tries you will be able to change the needle just like a professional every time.
- Don’t try to cut corners by not changing your needle when you are working with a different fabric even if it is part of the same project.
- Make sure that you always have a few spare new needles to hand.
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Some interesting facts about needles for sewing machines:
Did you know?
The eye of a machine needle is shaped so that there is a groove in front of the eye so it can comfortable accept and work efficiently with the appropriate thread.
If your needle breaks it may not be a fault with the machine, the needle is usually very worn and quite blunt.
Sewing machine needles also break if you are using a needle that is too fine for the fabric. Don’t use a fine needle that you would use for silk on a denim garment.