Hello. Today I wanted to write about sewing machine needles. My phone keeps wanting to write “needless” but you definitely need these if you’re using a machine.
I focused on the Schmetz brand as they have all the types of needles there are. They fit standard machines. I have used them on my old Singer and my new Brother computerized machine.
Schmetz advises to change the needle every 8 hours of sewing and at the beginning of every new project. It sounds like a lot, and I probably haven’t followed that advice, but I think I will going forward. Needles aren’t too expensive. They also recommend thinking about needle type when you’re planning out your other supplies like thread and fabric. They say that the eye of the needle should be 40% larger than the diameter of the thread. That might take some calculations and unit conversion. Maybe I’ll try to come up with a chart.
It’s hard to believe, but I’ve had lots of needles break completely in half and lots more bend to the side. If you don’t notice a bend, it can create weird stitch problems and can damage the machine. That’s why it’s good to change them often.
Universal needles are for general purpose sewing. The sizes are US (the larger number) and European (smaller number). The smaller the size, the smaller the needle, unlike things like wire gauge which is the opposite.
Chrome needles are more nonstick than regular ones and I believe they handle wear better. Someone I know who sews with vinyl, like the shiny thick kind, uses these (also with a nonstick Teflon presser foot).
Ball Point needles are just like the name states: ball point. It’s a very small ball and it’s actually more like a rounded point IMO, because it’s not like a ball point pen that literally has a ball that rolls around. They’re designed for knit fabrics and the point pushes threads to the side instead of piercing through the threads. Here’s an illustration to refer to, except it kind of makes them look half flat when they are cylindrical. Also, with Schmetz needles, I’m pretty sure the “flat side” is on the back, but I may be misunderstanding the illustration.
Embroidery needles are specially designed to work with embroidery thread, which can have different characteristics than other thread. It also works well with base fabrics that are used for embroidery.
Quilting needles are made thinner so that they can easily pass through lots of fabric layers.
Denim needles are used on denim or other heavy fabrics. They are reinforced and have a slight ball point, although looking at the illustration again, it makes it look like they are sharp. But the Schmetz site specifically says they have a ball point.
Leather needles have a faceted cutting point that cuts holes in the leather. In hand sewing leather, you have to pre-cut holes for stitching (I just recently learned that). So these needles do that for you.
Metallic needles are for metallic thread. They have bigger eyes that help the thread from getting tangled and unwound. Metallic thread is really hard to work with on a machine (and off). It constantly separates and gets tangled and it’s hard to untangle – it tends to break easier than normal thread. Tensions have to be set differently. I don’t recommend it for a beginner.
Stretch needles are a different type of ball point needle that’s optimized for stretch fabrics.
Quick Threading needles have a slit in the side that helps people thread it if they have problems seeing or other problems preventing easy threading. It’s recommended not to use these with certain delicate fabrics that might get caught on the slit area of the needle.
Hemstitch or Wing needles (called Wing because they look like they have wings) are very sharp and are made for cutting the fabric as they stitch. It’s recommended to practice a lot and to first hand-turn the machine to make sure it will fit properly. Schmetz’s site says that most plates won’t have room for this needle.
Topstitch needles have bigger eyes to accommodate thicker topstitch thread and a shape that helps with very even and straight stitches.
Double Eye needles allow you to sew with two threads at once. You have to make sure your machine used this form of needle. I just checked and apparently all machines do, so there you go. I’m not sure how you thread it, but I’m sure there are instructions out there.
Microtex needles are for sewing microfiber and similar fabrics. They are sharp but don’t have as much of a warning as the Hemstitch ones.
Twin needles are for sewing 2 lines of stitches. I have used these when sewing a shirt that I made from a knit fabric. It was for finishing the edges because I don’t have a serger to do that. It creates a similar look on the outside. These come in a few different styles out of the ones above. The one I got for the shirt was a Stretch Double Needle. On the picture it looks like they can be used for piping too.
Triple needles are used the same way as double needles, but I think have fewer applications.