How To Insert A Needle In A Singer Sewing Machine

Background Information

Inserting a needle into a sewing machine can be a daunting process. Even with some prior sewing knowledge, this particular task can be daunting. If a needle needs to be replaced, it must be done correctly or the integrity of the garment may be compromised. The right needle will help produce a neat line of stitches, which is essential for a good quality finish. It is important to ensure the correct needle size, length, and type is used for the fabric to be sewn, as well as the type of machine.

Understanding Needles

Needles are made up of two main parts: an eye, or stitch hole, and a shank or neck. The eye of the needle is a semi-circular opening where thread is attached and the shank is a cylindrical bar that fits into the machine and holds the needle in place.
Needles come in different sizes and types, so it is important to choose the right needle for the fabric, thread and sewing machine. Size is typically determined by the length of the needle and its circumference. The most common needles used for general purpose household sewing include universal needles, denim needles and stretch needles.
When selecting a needle, consider the type of fabric that will be sewn, the type of thread and the size of the thread. Needles with a larger diameter and longer length should be used when working with heavy fabrics such as denim or canvas. Conversely, when working with lightweight fabrics such as silk or sheer, use a needle that is shorter in length and finer in diameter.

Inserting the Needle

When inserting a needle, it is important to follow the instructions in the sewing machine’s manual. Generally, a screwdriver or needle inserter is needed to remove the existing needle and install the new one.
Before taking out the old needle, make sure that the power is switched off. Place the needle into the machine and, using a screwdriver, turn the needle and shank to the right until it is secure. It is important to make sure the needle is inserted in the correct direction as indicated in the sewing machine manual.
It is also essential to use the correct needle for the fabric and thread that is to be sewn. If a needle is too fine for the fabric, the needle will break, and if it is too thick, the needle may create uneven stitches or cause the fabric to be torn.

Threading the Needle

When threading the needle, start by gently pulling the thread from the spool and laying it across the groove of the tension adjuster. Position the thread with the needle threader or a needle, turn the handwheel and guide the thread towards and through the needle’s eye.
To check if the needle has been correctly threaded, pull the thread towards the back of the machine. If the thread has not been correctly threaded, the thread will not move and this can be corrected by unthreading the needle and repeating the process.

Checking Tension

Once the needle has been threaded, it is important to check the tension of the thread. This can be done by gently pulling the bobbin thread while the presser foot is up. If the thread pulls too tightly, the tension should be adjusted.
Tension can be adjusted by turning the tension dial clockwise to increase the tension and counter-clockwise to decrease it. If the tension is set too tight, the stitches may appear wavy, and if the tension is too loose, the stitches may be too loose or even create a loopy effect.

Testing the Stitches

Once the needle has been correctly inserted, threaded and the tension has been adjusted, it is time to test the machine. Test the machine by stitching on a piece of scrap fabric and adjusting the tension as you go along. Once the ideal tension is found, you are ready to begin sewing.


It is important to maintain the sewing machine needle and keep it in good working order. Change the needle regularly – approximately every 5 hours of stitching – as the needle can become bent, rusty or simply worn out.
Regularly inspect the needle, as a damaged needle can cause skipped stitches or damage to the fabric. To keep the needle in good condition, it’s important to keep the machine clean, especially around the needle area.

Replacing the Needle

When it is time to replace the needle, power down the machine and use a screwdriver to loosen the needle clamp. Unscrew the old needle from the clamp and remove it from the machine.
Insert the new needle into the clamp, making sure to insert it in the correct direction as indicated in the manual. Tighten the clamp until it is secure and then thread the needle. Allow the machine to power up and adjust the tension as necessary. After testing it on a scrap fabric, the machine is ready for use.

Choosing the Right Needle

Choosing the right needle is essential for a successful sewing project. Consider the size, type and length of the needle to ensure that it is compatible with the fabric and thread. Use a universal needle for most projects as it works well with a variety of fabrics and thread types.
For heavier fabrics, such as denim and canvas, a larger and longer needle should be used. Needles that are too short or too fine can cause skipped stitches or damage to the fabric.

Expert Advice

Sewing experts recommend that the needle is changed regularly, and that needle size, length, and type should be carefully selected based on the fabric, thread and sewing machine being used. Before starting a project, check the manual and make sure that the needle is the right size and type.
Needles can become bent or rusty, so it is important to inspect the needle periodically and change it at least once every 5 hours of sewing. Keeping the machine clean, particularly around the needle area, will help prolong its life and improve the quality of the stitches.

Understanding the Mechanism

To better understand the needle insertion process, it is important to understand the sewing machine’s internal mechanism. A sewing machine is made up of several components, including the needle bar, bobbin, arm, and hand wheel.
The needle bar is attached to the needle and the arm controls its movement. The bobbin is what holds the thread and the hand wheel is used to control the needle. When the needle bar is moved up and down, the needle is threaded and the tension is adjusted.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

If the machine is not producing the desired results, it can be because the needle has not been inserted correctly or the tension is incorrect. In these cases, the needle should be checked and adjusted.
If the needle is incorrectly inserted, it should first be unthreaded and then reinserted according to the manual’s instructions. If the needle is correctly inserted but the tension is incorrect, the tension dial should be adjusted accordingly and tested.

Understanding Fabric Types

It is important to understand the type of fabric that is going to be sewn when selecting the right needle. Fabrics can be divided into three categories – lightweight, medium-weight, and heavy-weight.
Lightweight fabrics such as silk, chiffon, and lace are more delicate and require a smaller needle size and length to prevent stretching and damage to the fabric. Medium-weight fabrics such as cotton, linen and twill can be sewn with a medium size needle and heavy-weight fabrics such as denim and canvas require a larger, longer needle to prevent skipped stitches or damage to the fabric.

In Conclusion

Inserting a needle into a sewing machine can seem intimidating, but following the manual’s instructions and taking the time to select the right needle for the fabric, thread and machine will help to ensure a successful sewing project. Understanding the machine’s components, fabric types, and needle sizes and lengths will help to produce a beautiful, professional finish on any sewing 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.

Leave a Comment