The parts of a sewing machine needle
Look closely at any sewing machine needle and you’ll notice some specific characteristics:
The upper part of the needle that’s inserted into the needle bar – one side is usually flat and the other side,
The lower part of the needle.
The hole in the shaft that carries the thread.
The indentation in the back of the needle that helps form a stitch.
The indentation in the front of the needle that helps guide the thread.
The sharp tip of the needle that pierces the fabric.
How to choose a needle
When selecting a needle for your project, consider both the kind of fabric you’ll be sewing and the type of
thread you’ll be using.
For finer fabrics, choose a smaller (thinner) needle. For heavier fabrics, choose a larger (thicker) needle.
Why? Because a thick needle used on a fine fabric could leave noticeable holes. And a thin needle used on a
heavy fabric could break.
And use a smaller needle for finer thread and a larger needle for thicker thread – the larger needle will have
a larger eye to accommodate the thicker thread. Your thread should pass through the eye of your needle
smoothly, yet fit snuggly into the needle’s groove. If you were to use a small needle with a thick thread,
your thread could shred or break. And using a thick needle with a fine thread could cause uneven stitches.
Since it’s difficult to judge the size of a needle by looking at it, needles are numbered to indicate their size.
The larger the number, the larger the needle*. And in addition to sizes, most needle packages are labeled
with recommendations such as “for medium weight fabrics.”
You must also choose a needle point:
Use a sharp point or standard point needle on woven fabrics.
Use a ball point needle on knits. The rounded point of this needle slides between the threads of a knit
fabric instead of piercing them.
You can also use a universal point needle to sew most woven and knit fabrics. This needle has a
slightly rounded point.
In addition, there are lots of other needles for special sewing tasks such as sewing heavy denim
fabrics, sewing leather, sewing with metallic thread, and more. There are also twin and triple needles
designed for decorative stitching.
Most needles can be used in most machines, but consult your manual to be sure. Or look on the back
of your needle package for a list of compatible models.
How to insert your needle
Raise the needle to its highest position. On most sewing machines, there’s a screw on the side of the
needle bar. Loosen this screw and slide the old needle out. Insert the shank (the upper part) of the new
needle into the needle bar, usually with the flat side facing away from the bobbin area (check your manual
to be sure). Push the needle up as far as it will go. Tighten the screw.
Tips for preventing needle problems
Use a new, sharp needle for every project or change your needle after eight hours of continuous sewing.
Dull needles can damage your fabric and cause stitching problems.
Use a needle appropriate for your fabric and thread. Using the wrong needle can cause stitch problems,
broken thread, and broken needles.
Make sure to insert your needle correctly (consult your manual) and that it goes all the way into the needle
Test your needle first by sewing stitches on a scrap of your fabric before starting your project.
Keep an assortment of needle types and sizes on hand so you’ll always have the right needle for your
*Most needle packages list both an American and a European size. The smaller number is the American
size. But with both numbering systems, the higher the number, the larger the needle.
|Sewing Information, Advice, How-to
Sewing Machine Needles – The Basics