How To Change Needle On Sewing Machine

Understanding the Needle

Sewing machines are one of the most basic and practical pieces of home equipment for handiwork and mending. They range from basic to very complicated in operation. The key to sewing machine success is to understand the needle and how to change it. The needle is the most important part of the sewing machine and, if not correctly positioned and securely clamped, it can cause the machine to miss stitches.
The needle is made of steel and looks like a small spear tip. It is available in a variety of lengths, thicknesses and points with the standard being 70 to 110 millimetres in length. The right size and type of needle need to be used according to the fabric being used. The size is printed on the package and is measured in European numbers which range from 0 to 16. The needles come with a number of different points, including sharp, ballpoint, double sharp and stretch needles.

Preparing the Machine for a Needle Change

Before changing the needle on a sewing machine, the power must be turned off and the threaded portion of the machine unthreaded. The bobbin must be removed in order to access the needle. This is done by slightly loosening the handwheel on the side of the machine and then sliding the bobbin out from the shuttle race of the machine.

Removing the Old Needle

Before changing a needle, it is important to confirm that the new needle is the correct size and type for the fabric to be sewn. To remove the old needle, first locate the screw that holds the needle in place on the top of the machine. Using a screwdriver, unscrew the screw to release the needle. Pull the needle straight down and out of the machine and discard it.

Installing the New Needle

To install a new needle, start by inserting the shaft and needle point into the needle clamp and pushing it up until it stops. Make sure the flat side of the needle is facing the back of the machine. Use the screwdriver to tighten the needle screw until the needle won’t move. Re-thread the machine, starting from the bottom of the spool.

Finishing the Preparations

Once the machine is re-threaded and the bobbin is in place, the machine is ready for further use. Place the correct fabric under the presser foot and lower the foot gently. Rotate the handwheel clockwise until the needle is in the highest position and then test the machine for correct threading.

Checking for Quality

After the needle has been changed, it is important to check for quality stitches. The stitches should be even and not too tight, as too-tight stitches can cause fabric to pucker. The stitches should also not be too loose, as this can cause the fabric to pull apart. If the quality of the stitches is not satisfactory, re-adjust the thread tension and/or the needle position and retest until the desired results are achieved.

Caring For the Needle

Changing a needle is a relatively easy task, but it is important to remember to take care of the needle in order to ensure its longevity. Materials like denim and leather can damage a sharp needle, so it is important to remember to use a ballpoint or leather needle for sewing these fabrics. Also, it is important to clean the needle after each use, as debris and buildup can cause the needle to wear out faster.

Maintenance and Storage

Regular machine maintenance is essential to keep the sewing machine in good working order and to keep the needle from becoming damaged. Before changing a needle or any other machine part, ensure that the machine is clean and free of any debris. Additionally, always store the needle in a safe, dry place away from children and moisture.

Alternate Needles

In addition to standard needles, sewing machines can also use different types of needles such as quilting needles, beading needles, and stretch needles. Quilting needles are used when quilting heavier fabric such as canvas and batting. Beading needles are used for adding beads and making decorative embroidery. Stretch needles are usually used for sewing on knits and stretch fabrics and have a special point that prevents skipped stitches.

Proper Thread Selection

When changing the needle, it is important to make sure the right type and size of thread is used. If the thread is too thick or too thin, it can cause the needle to break. Too thick of a thread can also cause the machine to jam, while too thin of a thread can result in skipped stitches. Selecting the right type and size of thread ensures that the needle is able to do its job without becoming damaged.

Tension Settings

In addition to selecting the right type of thread and needle, it is important to correctly adjust the tension dial on the machine. If the machine is not correctly tensioned, the stitches can be too loose or too tight, causing puckering and gathering. Too much tension can also cause the needle to break, so it is important to adjust the tension dial to the correct setting for the fabric being sewn.

Coordinating the Bobbin

Having the correct bobbin for the fabric is also important for achieving quality stitches. The bobbin must be the same size and type of thread as the needle. If the bobbin is incorrect, the machine will not stitch correctly. It is important to ensure that the bobbin is correctly placed in the machine before use.

Thread Guide Settings

The thread guide on a sewing machine must also be properly adjusted in order to achieve quality stitches. If the thread guide is too tight, it can cause the thread to jam and cause the needle to break. If the thread guide is too loose, the thread may not fit properly and the stitches can be loose or gathered. Ensure that the thread guide is adjusted correctly before using the sewing machine.

Needle Types and Sizes

To achieve the best results when sewing, select the right type and size of needle. The different types of needles range from universal to stretch to quilting and each type requires a different size of needle. Universal needles are standard size needles from 8-10 millimeters and are great for most fabrics. Stretch needles are generally longer needles in sizes 11-14 millimeters and are designed for stretch fabrics. Quilting needles, on the other hand, can be smaller or larger size needles from 9-18 millimeters and are designed for quilting.

Winding the Bobbin

Before changing the needle on any sewing machine, make sure the bobbin is wound correctly. Improperly wound bobbins can cause the machine to jam, break the needle, and cause skipped stitches. Take the time to wind the bobbin properly and make sure the thread is tightened and wound correctly.

Replenishing Supplies

Replace the needle when it has become dull or worn out. Needles can be blunt when sewing through thick fabrics or when performing a lot of overlock stitching. Make sure to have a supply of needles on hand and replace the needle when it becomes dull or worn.

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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