Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Right Sewing Machine Needle

Wednesday Tip of the Week

Not all sewing machine needles are alike and as any experienced sewer knows, using the right one can make a huge difference in the quality of your stitching. The same, of course, can be said of fabric and for this reason it is important the right size and style of sewing machine needle be used. While the universal size 80 is good for a lot, its not good for everything.


If you are like me, I always have several projects in the works, each of a different fabric and in some cases requiring  different sewing machine needles.  Case in point, I just finished making a large duffel bag using a medium weight home decor fabric that was quilted so it had some heft and body. The needle in my machine was a size 90, perhaps a bit bigger than I really needed, but that's not my point here. When I moved to my next project -- a dress for an upcoming wedding in a very lightweight rayon print -- thank God I ran a sample of stitches on my handy scrap of fabric before I started on the real thing. That size 90 needle still in my machine pulled and snagged the fabric like crazy. Had I begun my new project before sampling the stitches I would have ruined it.  A quick change to a fresh size 70 needle did the trick. Nice clean stitches with no pulling or snagging.

I should have known better because I keep a sticker on my machine to indicate what size needle I have in my machine.  The sticker also indicates how many projects I have made using that needle so I know when it is ready to throw away.  Likewise, when I remove a needle from the machine I store it in a small box near my machine attached to a piece of paper indicating the same information - size and times used.  This is so much easier than having to pull out the magnifying glass to read the needle - been there, done that. My eyes just aren't as good as they used to be. Plus, if you just re-store them in those cute sleeves you never know how many times you have used it.  

Sample your stitches before starting a new project and always make sure the needle in your machine will do the job right. If the stitches start to pull, snag or skip, a new or finer needle is probably in order. If you sew a lot keeping a stash of fresh needles in a wide variety of sizes and styles is just good sewing. 

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