Rose's Quilting Blog

How often do you need to change your sewing machine needles?

How often do you need to change your sewing machine needles?

How often do you change the needles in your sewing machine?

When do I need to change the needle in my sewing machine?

How do you know when to change your sewing machine needle?

These are questions I’m so often asked, so here's my answer...



How to Easily know when to change your sewing machine needle?
Most people only change them when they’re broken or if they think about it.

Did you know that if there’s something amiss with your sewing machine,
like skipped stitches, tension or where you can hear the needle piercing the fabric, like a “pop pop or a thud thud” type of sound, then the first thing that you really need to be doing is changing your NEEDLE.

I'm sure that I keep the needle company in business as I change my
needles very regularly. I don’t actually change them at the start of every new project as is so often written, as every project could be major a small afternoons sewing, but I do change them very regularly. Some of my projects like my Best of Show quilts etc , check out my gallery page here, could take me a couple of years to complete, so that wipes out that theory of changing your sewing machine needle at the start of every project, but I trust you understand what I’m saying here.

If I’ve been doing a full complete day of major sewing, then I’ll often change
the needle at the start of each day, but then again it’ll depend on the brand of sewing machine needle that I’m using. If I’m using my very favoured Superior Topstitch needles then I don’t need to change these needles as often as many of the other brands as the Superior needles have a titanium coating on them, which in turn makes them last a lot longer than other needles do. These come in all the different sizes just like other brands.

I do find that I do change other brands more often, as they don’t have the
titanium coating on them, but on saying this, I do use these other brands as well, I just personally change them more often.

There are many signs that’ll let you know when your needle needs to be
changed if you’re always tuned into your sewing machine, the noises it may make, the feel of things, skipped stitches etc, just like you should be aware of changes within your car when driving, for example you should be able to “feel” when you have a flat tyre, and your sewing machine is no different.

All needles regardless of the type of needle will have a small microscopic
wear & tear to it every time it pierces through your fabric, even though you’re unable to see this every time your needle pierces the fabric, just like the soles on your favoured pair of runners, etc.

Now if you’re sewing something light with an open weave, then your needle
is going to wear & last longer in comparison to sewing something that is thick with a tight dense weave. Compare sewing a beautiful good quality quilter’s linen fabric, in comparison to sewing denim. The actual size of the needle can also make a big difference as well. Imagine trying to sew denim with a size 60 needle, forgetting that it’d break really quick, but it’d blunten that very fine point so much quicker, than using a size 90 needle.

When I’m teaching classes face to face within a classroom, one of the
things that I like to mention at the start of the class is about the importance of making sure that the needle you have in your machine for sewing with for the day, is in tip top condition, not bent, blunt or has sewn 2,000 kms.....

I do normally suggest, that as it’s a class that they’ve paid money for, and
they want to get optimum results from their days learning & sewing then please do start with a new needle in their sewing machine, as it’s also being very kind & generous to yourself by eliminating many frustrations on their day of learning.

During the day I often find a couple of people will start having issues with
their tensions, skipped stitches, breaking thread or the top thread sort of shredding as it’s going through the needle or even things like puckering. The first thing that I suggest is for them to change their needle to a brand new needle, and many times they’ll advise that “No, my needles perfectly fine, I’ve only used it a couple of times before I came to the class”. I gently urge them to “just try it anyway”, and for the majority of times this’ll fix their issues straight away, not always, but most times.

It’s a fantastic way to start the elimination process of what is causing the
machine, stitches, tension, thread breaking etc to play up. You have to start the elimination somewhere, so to me this is the best and easiest place to start.

You may think that this is a little extreme, but you’ll find that you don’t have
many problems if any at all, with skipped stitches, tension, noises or many other things that a blunt needle can cause to your sewing machine if you remember to change your machine needle regularly.

Another thing that’ll also cause your needles to blunten more quickly, can be the products that you’re also using... for example stabilisers, papers, etc.

I also use lots of freezer paper in my projects, particularly my appliqué, which looks like needle turn but is all sewn on the sewing machine, so of course my needle is actually sewing through this paper, and we’re all aware not to cut paper with your really good fabric scissors, because the paper will very quickly blunten the scissors. Well this is the same thing except it’s a needle not scissors.

So what product do you love to sew with that may be blunten-ing your
sewing machine needles that little bit quicker? Most people don’t take these types of things into consideration & that's perfectly okay, as you've possibly never had any reason to think about it like this before.

Many people think that it’s too expensive to be changing your needles so
often, but think about how much money you’ve just spent on fabric, tools, notions, books, patterns, on-line programs etc. Most of all think about how much time you lose and the frustration you have when things aren’t sewing as well as they should be.

We all have the same amount of time in our lives, 24 hours every day, it’s how we choose to use those hours that makes a huge difference to our you want enjoyment, calmness & ease of sewing, which is also being kind to your body, or would you rather have frustrations, having to unpick bad sewing tensions, etc & a feeling of.. this is such a waste of my time, then anger & blame starts to set in?

Well needles are actually the cheapest part of your sewing, even when buying the best brands & quality within the sewing machine needle range, which I always recommend as the better the steel the better the needle, but so often they seem to be the hardest thing that people want to replace. I guess they’re not pretty & don’t have that sensuous feel that many of our fabrics have, they don’t help us to visualize the finished project that we’re working on, but they are a necessity.

So be brave and throw out that old needle and shout yourself a new one...

Yes, you can do it,

I know you can ... be strong, 
just reach your hand out, take out the old needle and 
YES.....dispose of it in a safe manner
then take out a nice new shiny needle and place it into the machine.
You’re now ready to start sewing again, it’ll feel tremendous.

You've done it... but you may now need a cuppa...

Do make sure that the needle size is reflective to the size thread that you’re sewing, but I’ll talk about this at another time.

One other thing that I’m often asked is...
What do you do when you’re sewing a project where you may be changing to different size needles quite regularly throughout that project? How do you keep track of what needles your using etc. You’ll find a brilliant blog post of what I do in that situation, it involves using a piece of Blu-Tack—Curious- check that out here.

Also you may like to read another reason for why your thread suddenly
breaks that many people don't think of checking but it's such a very very simple thing to do but if not checked it'll cause you many frustrations. Check that out here.

You can also find out Why & How I use a piece of Blu-tack, a sewing
machine needle & my sewing machine together right HERE.

Hoping that you've enjoyed today's posting.
Do leave a comment, as I love reading peoples views & comments, as so often this is where we all learn, with sharing our creative knowledge & wisdom.

I'll be back again next week,
same time same place,
but something new to help you grow within your personal creative journey
Have the most beautiful, creative & inspiring day