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Choosing the

Right Needle

Needle Basics

Domestic sewing machines today basically use the one needle system (705/130H, HAX1, 15X1) but they are available in a large variety of sizes and point styles. Selecting the right needle and thread for the fabric you plan to sew is one of the most fundamental steps to achieving a successful stitching result.

Machine Needles come in sizes ranging from sizes Metric Size 60 to 120 (Imperial Sizes 8 to 20). This size essentially represents the thickness of the needle. The lower the number, the finer the needle. Thread, however, is the opposite, the finer the thread, the higher the number.

When sewing, the thread lies in the needle groove, if the needle is too fine for the thread, the thread will not fit into this groove causing faulty stitching.

The needle must also be in perfect condition. Stitching problems occur from using a needle that is either blunt, bent or if the tip has been damaged.

Find the Right Needle

Size is Important

In general the sewing thread diameter should be about 40% of the needle size (Nm). The reason for this is the ratio of the needle size to the cross-section of the long groove.

The long groove down the front of the needle plays a critical role in the formation of each stitch. The width of this groove is 40% of the needle diameter, i.e. in a size 100/16 needle ( which is 1.00mm thick ) the groove size is 0.40mm. The thread must fit nicely into this groove, and if the thread is too thick as shown in this first drawing, the thread can jam and all types of stitching problems will occur: such as thread stripping, thread breaking, missed stitches ,uneven tension etc.

When the thread size fits neatly into the long groove, this creates the optimum conditions for the best stitch, the best tension and hassle free stitching.

When the thread is much thinner than the groove, this creates a situation where an excessive amount of thread can form in the groove, which in turn may reduce the size of the loop and skipped stitches, uneven tensioning etc can result.

Find the Right Needle

Why Needles Break

"It is true, that the higher the quality of the needle, the more likely it will break, and a low quality needle will almost never break but bend!"

A machine needle is a precision made tool, which is designed to perform within very fine tolerances and at temperatures that vary from room temperature to over 200 degrees Celsius (550 degrees Fahrenheit). One of the performance criteria for a quality needle is that it must break cleanly when deflected more than 15 degrees from it's original vertical position.

Why is this so?

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