This week we’re going to talk about needles - sewing machine needles. Size does matter with sewing machine needles, along with sharpness, thread hole size, how the needle is configured around the needle hole, the blade make-up, and sometimes materials
Sewing machine needles are chosen based on the type of sewing you will be doing. The point, needle hole, groove in the blade above the needle, and thickness of the needle all vary for each needle type. If you have grown up sewing, you have seen how different types of needles have been added over time. The numbers on a needle package tell you the size of the needle. There are two numbers because one is European sizing and the other U. S. sizing. Needles go from 60/8 – 120/19. The larger the number, the larger the needle. The opposite of thread. So, it follows that the thicker the fabric or the increased number of layers, the larger the needle number used for the project. There are specialized needles for the type of fabric too. 60/8 is for very fine fabric – chiffon, very lightweight knits, and machine beading (the 60 fits through the hole in a seed bead perfectly!). I use 70,75, and/or 80 for piecing quilting fabric and most garment construction fabric. 90/14 – 120/19 needles are for thick fabrics such as denim or many layers(quilting and binding, adding lining to a tailored garment).
The type of needle point varies as well. You want the needle to go through the fabric without breaking the fibers of the fabric. Universal needles are the most versatile needle. It has a sharp needle with a small ball point at the tip. You would use this when you are doing lots of different types of sewing – garment construction, hemming, mending, quilting, on a regular basis. Ball Point needles are for knits. The round point goes between the fibers, moves them over rather than cutting through them. Microtex Sharps are the sharpest points of all needles. These are for piecing, general sewing, and most fabrics. The point helps give you a straight stitch when you need accurate sewing. Quilting, Topstitch, Embroidery, and Jeans needles have similar points. Hole size and grooves around the needle hole vary to protect the thread from too much friction when passing through the fabric. They are sturdy needles for sewing heavier projects or fabrics. For any of these needle types, the thicker the fabric or the more layers you have, the higher number of needle should be used.
Needles are typically made of stainless steel. You want the needle to be strong and a little flexible. If something happens while sewing, you don’t want the needle to not move and rip your project. You want it to flex a little or break before hurting your project. Titanium needles were too strong a metal for sewing and would rip the fabric before breaking. They wouldn’t flex at all. They are now using chrome for needles. These are considered professional grade needles. They are strong and flexible. You can also get non-stick needles. These work great for projects that have fusibles in them such as applique or picture quilts. The needle will go through the glue and not get stuck or gunked up.
So what do the colors on the needles mean? They tell you the type and size of your needles. Do you remember when many of us were very young and had good eyesight? The needle information was stamped into the needle shank. Now we can’t see that very well(it’s still there). The colors give you that information. The top color is the type of needle, the bottom the needle size. Schmetz came up with this system and you can see what the colors mean on their information charts. The color code chart can be accessed here.
More information about needles can be accessed here. Go to the resources tab. Lots if interesting needle history and other resources can be found on the Schmetz webpage.
Lots new in the store this week. Spring is arriving in the shop, even if it isn't arriving outside. Below is only a sampling. New blenders for batiks and quilting fabric have also arrived.
Don't forget to check the calendar for upcoming classes. A new beginner class is starting March 11. The classroom is set up for social distancing.
Phyllis and the QA staff