We all know that a sewing machine needle should be changed after every eight hours of sewing, but we don’t often hear a standard for hand-sewing needles. That's because the answer is a little more nuanced. Read more below.

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hand sewing needle

It depends on the quality of needle you're using and the type or thickness of the material you're sewing through. A common estimate is after 10 hours of sewing, but there are a few clues you can watch for that will tell you when it's time.

  • Blunt needles will be harder to push through fabric, so if you find that your hands or wrists are sore after sewing, that could mean you're working harder to sew.
  • If your needle is snagging fabric while sewing, it's time to replace your needle.
  • Most hand sewing needles are plated with nickel, gold, or platinum, which wears off over time. This causes a sluggish needle. If your needle is starting to rust or you smell a metallic smell on your hands from sewing, this generally means that friction from the fabrics and oils from your hands have eroded the plating.

Some quilters get nervous when their hand-sewing needle bends. But this is the sign of a good needle! Good needles are made to bend, so they can sew through fabric without snapping in half from the pressure. The bending shouldn't affect your sewing.