Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Confession

This is a bit of a extension of last week's topic, but it seems worthy of it's own post. While I am OCD about changing my sewing machine needle every project, I am not particularly good about making sure that my needle "matches" my fabric. I mostly use universal needles, and I periodically put in a denim needle if my fabric is quite heavy and a stretch needle if I'm sewing a knit. But I don't really know what I'm doing and I have NO idea what the sizes mean... :(

How about you? Do you have a system for matching needle to fabric type? Do you pay attention to the needle sizes? I'd love to know what works for you! :)


Kelley said...

I'm a bit like you. I change my needle when I think of it, but I'm not 100% certain that I'm always choosing the right kind. I sew a lot of knits, but I'm not sure about the difference between a ball-point, a jersey and a stretch needle, so I just put one of them in and hope for the best. I don't normally have too many issues, but I would like to feel more confident about my needle choices.

I also sew with a Janome machine and have heard that you should only use Janome needles. I don't always stick to this rule and feel a little guilty when I use other brands. I hope I'm not doing too much damage, but I'd been using other brands for years before I heard about this and my machine doesn't seem affected at all.

This is the first time I've commented on your confessions, but I always read them with great interest. Thanks for raising such great topics.

Faye Lewis said...

Nope, guilty. If the needle is working well, I don't change it.

Sewing Geek said...

Here is a chart that is pretty good to help choose the correct needle.


Paulette said...

Hi Gwen - I make sure my needle matches my project. I am very particular to use the smallest needle possible not only for the fabric but for the thread. I have a ton of needles for various uses. I sew on chiffon all the way up to denim quilts so I have to have the variety in stock.
As a side note, I do have Universal needs but only use those for loosely woven fabrics otherwise I find them to be worthless.

Zep said...

I think it all goes down to your perfection level. If you're looking for that perfect stitch you will use the right kind and size of needle for each fabric. There really is a lot to know about needles and pins. Just like we have different needles for fabrics we also have different pins (silk, T-pins, universal). I've looked at many owners manuals. A lot of the time you can find a fabric/needle chart there.

I teach about needles when I talk about troubleshooting the machine. Have you ever had the needle go up and down only to not make a stitch? That's because you have the wrong needle. And it may be the right size (starting with 8 going to 18) but the wrong point. Think of size like this - the smaller the number the smaller the needle for lightweight fabric. The bigger the number the bigger the needle for heavy fabric. has some great info on needles

My thing is I have so many machines I forget what kind and size of needles in each machine. Sometimes I put a sticky note on the machine to remind me but they always don't stay on the machine. Which is the reason why I told you about my idea to go along with the cards you already sell :)

GOOD LUCK at the Sewing Expo! I can't wait to hear how you did. Have fun for me too.

Unknown said...

You'll usually find a universal of standard size in my machine, unless I'm working with a knit (stretch needles prevent skipped stitches), or a fine fabric. I have denim ones, too, for hemming jeans. I've just found that the stitches look so much nicer with the appropriate needle, that it's just part of the rethreading-the-machine-for-the-next-project process.

marysews said...

I always manage to match up my needle type and size to the current sewing project. When I don't have a stretch or jersey needle for a knit fabric, I might a) substitute a universal needle, b) run out an buy the correct needles, c) write it down (or not) and hope I remember to get the correct needles the next time I go to Joann's.

Alison said...

I usually match my needle to my fabric. I have a little booklet by Schmetz which is very handy. It lists fabrics and tells you which needle goes with each one. I have a *ton* of needles and especially love using the wing, twin and other fancy dancy ones.

CarlaF-in Atlanta said...

I match the needle to the project. I have a wide collection of needles for my sewing machine. I use Sandra Betzina's book Fabric Savvy which suggests needles by fabric type. It also suggests stitch length and presser foot. I also read what other bloggers are using on fabric. Using the appropriate needle just makes you sewing session a lot easier.

Julie said...

My system for selecting needles--I read my sewing encyclopedia. My method for selecting sizes, again the encyclopedia and I try 2 different sizes on scraps of the fabric and see which I like better. It takes me longer to start a project now but the results are better. I also use a black permanent marker on the top of needle if I know it is good for more projects but not right for the one I'm currently working on. All my used but not ready to toss needles go in my Needle Nest, a handy snap-shut magnetic case I found in the quilting section.

Anonymous said...

I am anal about my needle sizes, not so much having a new needle.

I have a chart I stole (not quite literally, but I did take it) from a designer and keep it in my treadle to refer to if I have questions. I also hit the end that goes into the machine with nail polish once I've used it, but it's still sharp enough to sew on.

Summerset said...

I keep all the different needles in a bin by my machine and will select the right one for the job I'm doing. I've researched what needles go with what fabric, but I don't adhere to that hard and fast. I always sew a sample and if the needle I am using is not working, I'll try different ones to find one that does.

mamafitz said...

i make sure my needle matches my project. i also tend to prefer smaller needle sizes, so when i'm using a standard quilting weight cotton, for instance, i like a size 10 instead of a 12. the needles i use:

sharps/microtex in size 10 or 12 (8 or 9 for fine silks/chiffon)
stretch in size 11
denim in size 16
quilting in size 14

i don't use universal needles.

it's pretty easy to know what needle i have in. i use schmetz needles, and the sharps are purple on the top, stretch is yellow, denim is blue, and quilting is green (i think, not so sure on that one). also, if i am at all unsure how old the needle is, i throw it out.

meredithp said...

I do match the size needle with the type of fabric, using the smallest size I can get away with. I start with universal, and if it's not satisfactory, for wovens, I'll try a sharp or denim. If the universal isn't working on a knit, I'll move to a stretch needle.

Tee said...

I missed the first question regarding changing machine needles. But, yes, I do change my needle often. I change it after about every third garment. I buy lots of machine needles. Mostly on sale at Joanns or Hancocks when they have 50% off notions.

As for using the correct needle. I most certainly do. The smaller the number the most delicate the fabric, i.e., size 8 or 10 is great for a very fine or thin fabric.

I purchased the Threads Archive DVD and found 2 great articles on choosing the right machine needle in Issue #68 and #94. If you don't have the issues, you could probably search for them by topic on the taunton website.

Great discussion!

Anonymous said...

For matching needle size and type of point to fabrics, I would highly recommend Sandra Betzina's "More Fabric Savvy," which is an expanded version of her earlier book to include many more kinds of fabrics. For each fabric (listed alphabetically in the book, she covers Preshrink, Layout, Marking, Cutting, Interfacing, Thread, Needle, Stitch Length, Presser Foot, Seam Finish, Pressing, Topstitching, Closures, and Hem, with recommendations in each category plus x-refs to diagrams in the back section of the book that illustrate particular techniques. It's a great dictionary to have - just look up the fabric and there it is, the right kind of needle for it.

Cindy C.

Claire S. said...

I do try to match the needle to the fabric. Up til now, I used the chart in the owner's manual of my Kenmore. But I now own More Fabric Savvy and check that one out too.