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Select A Sewing Needle

Are you confused about the correct machine needle for your sewing project?

Sewing Needle DiagramWhen you are choosing the machine needle for your project you need to consider the thread and the fabric you will be using. Did you know the dimensions of your thread can affect the sewing machine tension? Too many thread fibers inside the needle eye can cause a pucker. If the needle eye is too small the thread will have trouble gliding through the eye without wear or friction. Wear or friction  – thread problems equal sewing problems.

What is a small needle eye?

An example of a small needle would be a 60/8 needle. An average needle size is 70 or 80.  Your needle eye should be 40% larger than the diameter of the thread. The choice of thread is important also. A high weight thread in the wrong needle can affect machine stitching.

So how do you know what is a high weight thread? What is thread weight anyway?

The higher the number the lower the thread weight, the finer the thread. For example a 50 weight cotton thread (very popular with patchwork and quilting) is labeled 50 –wt. since one gram of it is 50 meters long. A 30-wt. thread is “heavier” because a much shorter section of it is the same weight as 50 –wt. The bobbin thread that many sewers and quilters use is 60 wt. and much lighter and thinner. Any change in thread will physically change the tension in your sewing machine.

So if you like to change from one thread to another on a project check the spool; what is the weight, is it cotton, polyester or rayon?

Most threads give the weight and type though there are some that don’t. When they don’t list the weight or type give the thread a test run. See if the thread stitches uniformly on the top and bottom of your test fabric.

So what needle should you use for your sewing project?

If you are using a 50 weight cotton thread a universal 130/705H is an acceptable needle choice when sewing quality cotton fabric. The needle size of 70 or 80 is fine for patchwork or quilting. The universal needle has a long scarf so if you switch to a decorative stitch or a zigzag the needle’s scarf can handle that movement.

Computerized machine embroidery sewing machines require a specialized embroidery needle. The specialized machine embroidery needle has a special scarf, a long smooth groove and a large eye to protect the thread from the friction that occurs when the machine needle is traveling at high speed in and out of your fabric. If you like the sheen of rayon or some of the polyesters in your design it is very important to use a needle that can handle the job.

If you like to sew with metallic thread, use a metallic thread needle. Metallic thread can shred and break as it is fragile. By using a 80 or 90 size metallic thread needle, which has an elongated eye the thread will smoothly run through the needle eye.

Microtex sharps are a popular needle. The point is very sharp and the needle has a thin shaft. Microtex sharps were designed for high thread count fabrics such as silk, polyester, and some Batiks. As they are thin they can break more easily and need to be replaced more often. Sewing cotton fabrics does not require a Microtex sharp needle. The needle eye is very small in a Microtex sharp so your thread weight would need to be light (higher number equals lower thread weight).

Quilting needles are an option for quilting multiple seams. The quilting needle has a slightly rounded point and is slim allowing it to go through multiple layers.

There are a lot of choices in machine needles so it can be confusing. This is only a partial list.

The most important choice is choosing a quality needle with enough room in the eye for your thread and changing your needle often. The needle used on last month’s project could be dull or worse bent (bent needles can damage the stitch plate). Take the time to examine your thread choices and needles before you start sewing.

Sew Pro recommends Schmetz needles. Schmetz manufactures a high quality machine needle. Start with a high quality needle, good thread and a sewing machine cleaned and serviced and you will enjoy your sewing projects.

Happy Sewing from Sew Pro

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