How Are Sewing Machine Needles Measured

Sewing Machine Needles – An Overview

Sewing machine needles are a crucial part of the sewing process and are necessary for completing any fabric project or pattern. Sewing machine needles can be found in a range of sizes and types, making it important to understand the basics of what they are and how they are measured. In this article, we’ll explore the fundamentals of sewing machine needles and discuss the various ways they are measured.

Types of Needles

Sewing machine needles come in different lengths, widths and sizes and have different functions. The most common types of needles include general purpose needles, ball point needles, and denim needles. General purpose needles are the most widely used type and are suitable for most fabrics. They have a sharp point which helps to pierce through fabric easily. Ball point needles have a rounded point that helps to prevent damage to knit fabrics, while denim needles are designed to handle heavier material like denim.

Needle Point System

There is a specific needle point system which measures the size and shape of the needle. This system classifies needles according to the size of their shaft, which is the middle part of the needle. Every needle is assigned a number which indicates the circumference of its shaft. The higher the number, the thicker the shaft of the needle. For example, a size 8 needle has a circumference of 8 mm at its middle part, while a size 12 needle has a circumference of 12 mm.

Metric Number System

Additionally, needles are also measured by a metric number system. This system categorizes needles according to the European metric system. This number is usually imprinted on the side of the needle packet and indicated both the length and diameter of the needle. For example, a needle measured as 90/14 would be a 90 mm long needle with a 14 mm diameter.

The Materials

Depending on the job, the materials used in a sewing project may vary. Needles are made of different types of metal, ranging from hardened carbon steel to titanium and cobalt. Some needles can also be coated in silver, bronze or gold to help prevent damages or breaking. Each type of metal is designed to be suitable for a certain range of fabrics, however titanium and cobalt needles tend to be the strongest and most durable.

Choosing the Right Needle

It’s important to choose the right type of needles for the project. Stitching lightweight fabrics needs a sewing machine needle with a smaller size and a sharper point. On the other hand, heavier fabrics will require a larger, stronger needle. A good way to determine the best needle for a project is to think about the type of fabric and the thickness of the thread being used.

Sharpening Needles

Over time, needles can become dull, making them difficult to use. To help keep needles sharp, it’s important to remember to change the needle often. Needles should be changed after every few hours of continuous sewing. It’s also important to store needles and other sewing supplies in a cool, dry place to help keep them in good condition.

The Anatomy of a Needle

Needles come in different shapes and sizes and vary depending on their purpose. Generally, all needles consist of a shank, eye and point. The shank is the top part of the needle and is used to hold it in the sewing machine. The eye is the hole or slit in the middle of the needle through which thread passes. The point is the tip of the needle that actually pierces the fabric.

The Impacts of Needles

Sewing machine needles have a huge impact on the quality of work. If the wrong needle is used, it can result in damage to the fabric or cause unintentional holes. Poorly made or incorrectly sized needles can also lead to unreliable stitching, which can spell disaster for any project. In order to create a perfect finish to any garment, selecting the right type of needles is essential.

Upholstery Projects

leather, canvas and vinyl are different types of fabrics needed for upholstery projects. Needles designed for these kinds of fabrics come in the form of sailmakers’ needles, hemline needles and curved needles. Hemline needles have a small, sharp point and are suitable for lighter fabrics, while sailmaker’s needles are serrated to help hold the fabric in place. Curved needles aid in difficult spots, such as tight corners, or areas with a lot of material.

Using Specialty Needles

Specialty needles are designed to be used on specific kinds of fabrics. Leather needles are designed with a triangular point that helps to solidly pierce through the tough fabric. Chenille needles feature a long eye which helps to decrease resistance between the thread and the fabric. Quilting needles are made with a special taper for sewing through multiple layers of fabrics. Twin needles come with two points that enable the user to create special stitch patterns, such as chain stitches.

Maintaining Needle Quality

Maintaining the quality of a needle is essential if the user wants their project to turn out the way they plan. Use a needle grinder to sharpen needles and remember to keep a range of needles stored in your sewing kit. Investing in quality needles can help save time in the long run as cheaper needles are more prone to breaking and damaging fabric. Finally, it’s important to take time to learn about the various sizes and types of needles so that the perfect one can be chosen for the project.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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