Monday, August 15, 2011

Needle Notes

Why do I need all those needle sizes? Is it just a way for shops and machine dealers to sell me more 'stuff'?  
Do you remember when you last changed the needle in your sewing machine? Did you change it because you broke a needle? That's NOT the only time you should have a new needle in your machine. Some people say we should change our needle after 6 - 8 hours of sewing. So, how long is that? I can never remember. So, my rule of thumb is to put in a new needle when I start a project.

But what size needle do I use? Well, that depends. The needle you use depends on the thread you are using and the job you want to do. Here are the needles I use, when I use them and why.

Universal 80/12 - for piecing. I use Masterpiece thread (a fine long-staple Egyptian cotton thread from Superior Threads) and this needle works best with this thread. It will work well with all 50 weight threads. Some quilters I know use a Jeans 80/12 needle for piecing and it is a good substitute for piecing.

Topstitch 90/14 - for machine applique, decorative stitching and quilting with heavier threads. The deeper groove in this needle provides more protection for the the thread as it goes through your fabric and multiple layers. I use this with Superior's King Tut and Rainbows threads.

Quilting and Embroidery needles - sizes 75/11 and 90/14. I use these needles most often for Rayon threads - decorative stitching or quilting. Quilting needles: special taper to the point  prevents damage to fabrics; Embroidery needles: larger eye usually helps prevent shredding of the thread.

Metafil 80/12 - Specialized needles with larger eye. I use these with metallic threads (and rayon if I am having trouble with the quilting or embroidery needles).

I hope this gives you more information on the needles to use for your projects. I always have spare needles in the sizes I use on hand - and I buy a new package as soon as I use the last one of a particular size!  The brand I use is Shmetz, available at most quilting stores.

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