Machine Minute: Needle Know-How
Learn how to select the right needle for your project, how often to replace a needle and how to do it.
Hi, I'm Jennifer, here with another machine minute brought to you by Baby Lock and the Symphony Machine. Today's topic is needle know-how: when, why, and how to change your sewing machine needle. Did you know when you go to select needles at the notions wall that there is a difference in size and type? Let me show you what the packages generally look like. There are lots of different brands, but two areas that you want to pay attention to are the type of needle. So, it might say universal or sharp or embroidery or metallic. The type of needle is important. Then at the bottom, there is generally a size of needle. In this case, I've got a pack of universal needles that are size 90/14. A universal needle is neither a sharp nor a ball point needle, and it's often good for general sewing or mending type projects. You can also find needles that are metallic. Those are for use with metallic thread and they have a bigger scarf or hole or groove cut out of the back of the needle to allow the machine to accommodate metallic threads, since it builds up a lot of heat and friction against the needle. This pack happens to be an 80/12, which is slightly smaller than 90/14. Sometimes, you will find specialty needles. This pack is embroidery needles, but you might also find twin needles or other things like that, and again size 90/14 is a little bit larger. Finally and what most quilters used are sharp needles. They sometimes also go under the brand name of Microtex. A sharp needle has a nice point on it that will give you nice smooth, even stitches. This happens to be a 70/10 that's the size quilters often used for piecing or perhaps more commonly an 80/12 needle for cotton piecework or patchwork quilting. A sharp needle is probably your best choice. Now often I hear quilter say when I asked them how often they change their needle, they will laughingly say, 'well, every time it breaks.' That's a bad idea. You don't want needles to break in your machine because you can damage your machine. To protect your investment, how often should you change your needle? We suggest every eight hours of sewing. I tell people it's the most fun you can have for under a dollar. Treat yourself to a new needle. So let me show you how easy it is to change the needle on your machine. First and foremost, you need to know that machine needles have a right side and a wrong side when you're putting them in your machine, and the back side of the needle or the wrong side has a flat edge to it. So, you want to look at your needle before you get ready to place it in the machine, and notice which side is the flat side. That's going to go away from you or toward the back of the machine. Let me show you how. I've taken the presser foot off the machine and I took out the old needle by unscrewing the set screw here. Then, I again feel for the flat side of the needle. I want that to be away, and I position the needle up into the shaft. Now, you want to push it as far up in the shaft as it will go and then tighten up the screw. It's as simple as that. It's easy to do and remember every eight hours of sewing, treat yourself to a new needle. Its' an investment you will never regret.