Replace Your Machine Needle, Before You Have To
Tis the season to be sewing and sewing and sewing!
It is easy to forget how many hours of wear you have put on your machine needle. One rule of thumb, is to replace your needle after about 8 hours of sewing or after one large project (a dress vs a stocking).
These last few weeks I have been sewing a lot more than usual and on wide range of materials. I have been switching needles often in between and during my projects, so I found a good practice that has worked well for me to make sure I check the condition of my needles.
If I have a needle that I use for a short time and then replace this with a different needle, I like to check it before I reinsert it for more use. If you lay your needle on a flat surface, you can see if it has been bent or not. If it lays nice and straight, I will then proceed to drag the tip of the needle across the tip of my finger and feel if it is rough. Occasionally barbs can form on the tip of your needle. So, if you hear a popping sound or the needle is punching through the fabric or you see skipped stitches, it is most likely damaged (perhaps a barb has formed on the tip) and will need to be replaced. In any case, it happens eventually. Obviously, if it fails either of those tests, then I dispose of it into my used needles jar. If any of you have experienced a needle snapping or breaking, it is probably from too many hours of use. However, a snapped needle can be due to the thread getting tangled or knotted up as it unwinds off the spool. Take care to make sure your thread has a clear path.
If you have a needle that snaps, you need to carefully look for all the pieces. Often, the tip will get lodged into the fabric, and occasionally find its way into the bobbin area. So it is very important to try and locate all of the pieces.
The best way I have found is to reassemble the pieces. It saves you from possible physical injury (you don't want to find it unexpectedly with a finger or foot- ouch!) or machine damage, if it gets into the bobbin case area and remains there. Once you have located all the bits and pieces and can establish it's all there, then it all goes into the jar.
Since there are many embroidery projects now that have multiple techniques, I often switch out needles during the project. It could be that element of the project needs a different size or type (metallic for example). I love options!
Needles are designed for different weights and types of threads.
I find the metallic needles work very well with metallic type threads. This is due to having a larger eye that allows the thread to flow better at faster speeds (I do still slow my machine down a bit), and a larger shaft to accommodate the thread and keep it from breaking.
Titanium needles boast being able to last up to six times longer than your standard nickel-plated sewing machine needles.
The downside is that these are limited to only a few sizes readily found at your local dealership and often fewer needles come in a pack. Several years ago, I found that the titanium needles I was using worked better with my sticky stabilizer than my standard needles. They didn't gum up like the others.
It was a valuable added bonus as well as having the extended use of each needle!
As time has gone by, there are always new things being introduced. Here is a newer item that was recommended to me. I decided to give them a try. Since my expectations were a bit high after having experienced great results with the titanium needles, I was quite curious to see the results. Using the 75/11 for an embroidered card project that used only a layer of sticky, the needle performed just as it should. There are still a few more projects I would like to try them out on, but my initial impression is quite good.
I do hope that you are all enjoying making the projects you are sewing this season, and I encourage you to check and change your needles regularly...You'll be happy and so will your machine!
Sandra of Inspired Remnants LLC