Jun 1, 2008

Make a perfect stitch with the right Machine Needles

Sometimes troubleshooting a machine when you have problems can cause a new sewer to give up. When your machine isn't making a stitch. When it loops up on one side of the fabric or the other. It's not very hard to figure out why your having problems sewing. Sometimes there's an extra thread in the bobbin causing it not to work. Other times it could be tension causing the thread to loop on one side of the fabric or the other. A lot of times it's the type of needle you are using for the weight and kind of fabric your using.

I teach in my machine class about tension of the thread running through the machine and making a perfect stitch. Sometimes no matter how much you play with the tension you still can't make a stitch. This is because your using the wrong kind of needle.

Refer to your owners manual how to change a needle. It's very easy. After you have your new needle in your machine make sure your turn your hand wheel slowly to assure the needle is installed properly so that you don't break your new needle when you start to sew.

Again, you can find a lot of good information in sewing magazines. Threads has a good article about needles. It's a very good magazine. You should order it so you can learn new things and get great ideas for projects.
From the pages of Threads magazine

Machine-Needle Know-How

There are lots of needles to choose from. Ensure a project's success by selecting the right one.

by Lydia Morgan

Lay out an assortment of sewing-machine needles in various types and sizes on a table, and most of us can't tell the difference among them. But put the wrong needle in your machine, or use the wrong needle for your fabric and/or thread, and all heck breaks loose. You can damage your bobbin hook, throw off the machine's timing, get puckered seams, break or shred thread, punch holes in your fabric, and, at the very least, produce an inferior stitch. Whatever your machine, even the latest computerized model, needle selection can make or break your stitch.

At one time, only one type of machine needle was available to home sewers, and the sole choice involved was size. But today, home sewers can choose from a wide variety of needle types in their quest for trouble-free sewing .

Several things can determine the type of needle to pick: the fabric you're using; the thread you've chosen (for example, metallic or embroidery); or the type of stitch you plan (for instance, topstitching or hemstitching). When you're doing regular, not decorative, sewing, the type of fabric determines the shape of the needle's point, and the fabric's weight determines the needles' size.

But before deciding on a needle, you first need to know the needle system your machine uses. Unlike commercial machines, which use a variety of needle systems, almost all home-sewing machines use a 130/705H needle system -- designated on the needle case between the needle's name and size (other letters indicate needle type, such as M for Microtex or Q for quilting). Your machine's needle system never changes, regardless of the size or type of needle you use.

Tension control, stitch length, foot pressure, and other invisible settings on automatic machines are set for medium-weight fabrics, threads, and needles. If you're a middle-of-the-road sewer, using midweight, woven fabrics, you could be happy using a size 12 universal needle for the rest of your life. But when you want improved stitch quality, learn which specific needles to use for various jobs. See Anatomy of a needle to understand the build of this tiny, but important tool.

Select needle type by the task at hand
Sewing-machine manufacturers want their machines to consistently produce a perfect stitch. So the needle's configuration is engineered to manage thread and fabric to reduce the likelihood of skipped or flawed stitches. Each needle type produces a stitch by using a uniquely designed groove, scarf, eye, and/or point to enable the needle and bobbin hook to meet perfectly (see How a stitch is formed). The chart of Needle types describes their uses, configuration, and how to troubleshoot them.

Choose regular needle size by fabric weight
When selecting a needle for regular sewing, start with needle size. European needles range in size from 60 to 120, which refers to the diameter taken on the shaft right above the eye. American needles are sized from 8 to 19 in an arbitrary numbering system, and paired with corresponding European sizes: for example, 60/8 or 70/10; the larger the number, the larger the needle.

Determine needle size by fabric weight. Choose a size 60/8 needle for lightweight fabrics similar to georgette or organdy; a 70/10 or 80/12 needle for medium-weight jersey, Lycra, linen, or calf leather; a 90/14 and 100/16 for heavy fabrics like jeans, vinyl, upholstery or canvas; and 110/18 or 120/19 for very heavy fabrics. After choosing needle size, match the needle point to your fabric. The needle type and name is usually determined by the characteristics of the needle's point.

Thread should pass easily through eye of needle
How smoothly the thread pulls though the needle's eye is also a factor in producing even, regular stitches. So if you have trouble threading the needle and problems with the stitches, the thread and needle aren't matched correctly. Lay your thread in the needle’s front groove; it should “snuggle” in.

In the end, most sewers just want to get professional-looking results. Knowing more about needles brings you closer to that goal, since needle choice greatly affects your outcome. For every correctly chosen, new needle you put into your machine, you should have eight to 12 continuous hours of trouble-free sewing.

Lydia Morgan owns a sewing business and Beacon’s Fabric and Notions (mail order), in South Pasadena, Florida.

Photos: Sloan Howard; drawings: Karen Meyer

From Threads #94, pp. 59-61
I hope you enjoyed learning about needles from Threads magazine. Pick up a copy - you won't be disappointed.

If you want to learn how to use your sewing machine join any machine class. I run them a couple of times a week. Check out my website for the dates

Today is the first day of June - summer begins.
Until next time.
Enjoy your moments, make them"sew" much fun,

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