Believe it or not sewing machine needles only have a lifespan of about 6 sewing hours. So if you are putting in alot of hours like me, you can easily go through 6 or more needles a week. If you ignore changing your needle you can easily end up with uneven stitches, snagged fabric and stitches that are extremely hard to rip out. And we all know ripping out is a daily part of the sewing life! So in this short post I will walk you through the best needle to use for your choosen fabric.
So first make sure you are familiar with the different parts of the needle that you will need to know:
- The shank is the part of the needle that fits into your sewing machine, with the flat side to the back.
- The blade is what determines the needle size. (For example, a size 75 needle has a blade that is .75 mm in diameter.)
- The shaft is the "body" of the needle, and the groove that runs the length of the shaft holds the needle thread. The diameter of the thread you're using should take up no more than 40% of the groove.
- The point and tip of the needle refer to the size, shape and length — all of which vary based on the type of needle.
- The scarf of the needle is an indentation on the backside that allows the bobbin hook to smoothly grab the thread under the sewing machine throat plate to create a proper stitch.
There are 3 main needle types that you will probably be using for home sewing:
Universal: Best for woven or some sturdier knits, and will probably be your most used needle type
Jersey: These have a ball point tip and are used for knits, it will slip between the fibers and not damage them.
Stretch: These are used for swimwear or elastic. If you are sewing these fabrics you will find it much easier to use a stretch needle.
There are other types as well like Denim, Suede or other quilting needles but these are the three main types that I use.
First choose the needle according to the type of fabric you will be sewing and then determine the size that you will need. To determine size consider the weight of the fabric and the thread. I use mostly polyester threads as they have some stretch to them and are a general all purpose thread. You will see numbers like 60/8 or 70/10. Just remember that the larger the number the larger the blade of the needle. So for most cottons and knits you probably won't have to go higher than a 70/10 unless you are sewing through multiple pieces at a time. Then you may need a higher blade.
Hopefully this little guide helps and happy sewing!!