How to Choose Sewing Machine Needles

How to Choose Sewing Machine Needles

Using the correct needle in your machine is imperative, particularly when stitching fabrics such as leather and silk. It can make the difference between a sewing disaster and a sewing success.

Using the correct needle with your sewing machine will help to save you time and avoid broken needles and frayed threads to name but a few, hopefully this guide will help to clarify a few things.

If in doubt, always check the packaging as it should tell you the size of the needle and materials on which it can be used.

The basics

No matter what the type of needle they are all made up of the same parts –

Shank –This is the top part of the needle that is inserted into the sewing machine. It is flat on one side and rounded on the other with the rounded side being the front and the flat side the back of the needle.

Shaft – Everything below the shank of the needle is known as the shaft, the diameter of the shaft varies from needle to needle thus determining the needles size.

The shaft is then made up of the groove, scarf, eye and finally the point –

Groove – this is on the front of the needle and protects the thread when it goes through the fabric, the groove helps to prevent the thread from fraying and breaking.

Scarf – this is positioned on the back of the needle. The scarf allows the bobbin thread to pass close to the eye of the needle.

Eye – this is the hole at the bottom of the needle that the thread is poked through from front to back.

Point – the tip is the part of the needle that pierces through the fabric.

What size?

The size of the needle will be displayed on the packaging; usually there are two numbers, for example 70/10. The first of the two is the larger European size and the second smaller number is the American size system. The type of material you will be stitching into should be taken into consideration when choosing the needle.

Types of Needle

Universal Needles – The point is ever so slightly rounded for use on knits, yet sharp enough to pierce woven fabrics. Available in a wide range of sizes, use them when stitching synthetic or natural woven fabrics and knits, with specific universal needles used for fine and heavy weight fabrics.

Leather Needles – Leather needles have a wedge-shape point that penetrates leather, suede and vinyl as well as other thick non-woven fabrics. Once the needle has pierced the material it will leave a visible hole. With these needles precision stitching is key.

Jeans Needles – For use with denim and heavy woven fabrics, these needles have a thick strong shaft and a very sharp point. They are predominantly used for stitching denim, canvas and other heavy weight, tightly woven fabrics. They are also great for stitching through multiple layers of fabric without the needle breaking.

Ball Point Needles –These needles have a slightly more rounded point than universal needles, passing between the fabric threads instead of piercing them. They are great for use on spandex and knitted fabrics that snag easily.

Embroidery Needles – Embroidery needles have a larger eye and a specially designed scarf that protects the thread against breaking or shredding.

Sharps Needles –These needles feature a deep scarf so the bobbin hook can get closer to the needle eye and avoid skipped stitches. Ideal for stitching silk jersey, Lycra and any highly elastic lightweight knits.

Metallic Needles –These needles are designed specifically for use with metallic threads. The needle features a larger eye than an embroidery needle, a fine shaft and a sharp point to prevent thread breakage and shredding.

Make sure to check out Hobbycraft’s range of sewing machine needles.

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