Sewing Machine Needles
Types of Sewing Machine Needles
You wouldn't think there would be a great deal of difference in such a small object but there are subtle differences in the needles that make them more suitable for different fabrics and can literally make or break your stitching. For example, a sharp needle pierces woven fabrics as it sews where a ballpoint or stretch needle spreads and moves the knit fibres so you don't end up with any ladders; denim needles are nice and thick; leather needles have a sharpened eye so it can more easily pierce the hide and a Universal needle has a slightly rounded point and is ideal for everyday sewing projects.
What Do Those Numbers Mean?
Can you see on the image above the numbers 80/12 or 100/16? This is the standard measure for sizing needles. That number gives you the gauge or width of the metal shank. The smaller the number, the thinner the needle. Finner needles are more suited for lighter weight fabrics. The reason there's two numbers is that one number is metric(70, 80, 90) and one imperial (9, 10, 11).
When to Change Your Needle
If you are starting to get tangled a lot or drop stitches then changing your needle is a good first fix to see if that sorts it out.
As a rule of thumb, it is best to change your needle every 10 hours of sewing or every second project. Replace damaged needles as soon as possible to reduce the risk of nicking and damaging your bobbin case as it swings past. If you do actually snap a needle, this can throw your machine’s timing out in which case you'll need to get it professionally serviced (yes, I’m speaking from experience ~)
How to Change Your Needle
Step 1: Hold the needle with your left hand and undo the screw at the top of the needle clamp with your right hand. You may have a tool like this one or a screw driver that came with your machine to help you with this task. Holding the needle stops it from dropping down inside your machine.
Step 2: Remove the needle by pulling down and away from the clamp.
Step 3: Insert the new needle with the flattened edge towards the back of the sewing machine. Push the new needle up inside the needle clamp as high as it will go.
Step 4: Use your fingers initially and then your tool of choice to tighten the needle clamp screw. The tighter you can make this, the better. A loose clamp may leave the needle down in the fabric you are sewing.
Step 5: Re-thread your needle, pushing the thread from front to back. Discard your old needle safely. All done, you’re now ready for sewing.