My 3 Rules About Sewing Machine Needles

Ever find your tension is off or that your machine is skipping stitches? It’s time to check out that sewing machine needle! Here are 3 rules to remember:

Rule 1: Change your Sewing Machine Needle frequently!

Needles will dull. Period. I recommend buying them by the handful when your local stores run notions on a 50% off sale. By stocking up, you’ll be ready to use a new needle with every new project.

Also, check your needle frequently for burrs and blunt tips. These will cause snags in your fabric.

Rule 2: Pick the right needle for the right fabric.

Generally, you’ll need a size 11 or 14. However, there are a few things to remember.

Rule 2.1: The thicker the fabric, the bigger the needle, bigger the needle size. Most manuals have a table listing the size needle that you need for certain fabrics. Here are some basics:

  • Use a size 9 for Very Lightweight Fabrics, like Chiffon, Lace, Organdy, or Tulle.
  • Use a size 11 or 12 for Lightweight Fabrics like Chambray, Gingham,Satin, Lawn, Single Knits, Jersey,Thin Leather, or Suede.
  • Use a size 14 for Medium-weight Fabrics like most of your quilting cottons or Flannel, Velour, Broadcloth, Linen, Velvet, Double Knits, Vinyl, or some Leathers or Suede.
  • Use a size 16 for Heavy-weight Fabrics including Denim, Sailcloth, Fake Fur, and thick Leathers.
  • Use a size 18 for Very Heavy Fabrics like Canvas, Duck and some Upholstery fabrics.

Rule 2.2: Pick the right type of needle for the fabric. Basically:

  • Woven fabric: Universal needles or Sharps
  • Knits: Ball-point needles
  • Leathers: Wedge-point needles (AKA leather needles)
  • Most topstitching: Topstitching needles

Rule 3: Make sure your needle is inserted properly.

Any questions, refer to your sewing machine manual.

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