When beginning a sewing project, you probably always get your supplies, fabric and pattern in order but don’t forget about the most important item needed for a beautiful finished project and that is your machine’s NEEDLE.
You should only stitch with one machine needle for at most 15 hours and then change it out for a new one. Doing this keeps your needle sharp, the eye smooth for the thread and makes for less thread breakage and good, secure stitches for your particular project. Be sure to refer to your sewing machine manual for recommendations on proper needle sizes for your machine.
A brief scoop on the design of a sewing machine needle is that the higher number determines the diameter of the needle itself using the metric system and the lower number is the US system. Machine needles range from being thin and flexible to a more heavy-duty thicker and stronger needle. Also, the eye of the needles are smaller to larger depending upon the needle size to perform the right stitching task for that needle and fabric.
A 65/9 universal needle is a thin needle good for very light weight fabrics making small sewing holes too. Just like a 100/16 is perfect for denim weight fabrics, strong enough to handle stitching through your jeans. You can even purchase a mixed needle package, i.e., size 70/10, 80/12, and 90/14. This is a good one to keep on hand because it gives you a wide variety of needles for light weight, medium weight and some heavy weight fabrics.
There are specialty needles too that should be purchased if you are going to sew with a specific type of fabric. For example, if you decide to use a knit or stretch fabric, you really want to use a needle that has a medium ball point end to it so while you are sewing the needle doesn’t pick the fabric and your stitches are flexible with the stretch of a knit. A stretch needle 75/11 would work nicely for delicate knit fabrics.
There are quilting and embroidery needles too which will give you a little larger eye to help compensate for all the friction the thread deals with when stitching these type of projects. A sharp microtex 90/14 is ideal for top stitching and edge stitches.
Sometimes you will start out using one particular size needle and then maybe have to change to another size or specialty needle for the finishing sewing touches. Just remember one size doesn’t fit all projects.
Now you say, do I really want to take the time to try and place that needle back into its package and not knowing how many hours I have sewn with that particular needle??? Here’s a quick and simple solution that I do with my different needles once I have sewn with them but not ready to discard them. I purchased one of those cute little red tomato pin holders and I write on the various sections with a black marker the needle size, i.e., 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, quilt, emb. As I need to change out needles, I just push the used needle into the proper section or I pull it out when I need that needle size again. I know I’ve sewn with it already so then I kind of guesstimate my usage time. You will get a feel for what needles you sew with more often than others. Also, don’t ever sew over pins that will definitely put a damper on your needle!!
Next time you have thread breaking problems and you are about to pull your hair out, think when was the last time I changed my needle or am I using the proper needle with my fabric. Sometimes that very simple procedure of changing your sewing machine needle will fix those frustrating moments.
- TIP: I don’t like to just throw my used pins and needles into my trash can (sometimes I go dumpsy diving for fabric scraps) so I have a used medicine container that I have made a large hole in the top of the child proof lid and I can just deposit my discarded pins and needles into the bottle. When full, I can safely toss it away!!