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That’s it. Well, almost. One of the most often overlooked maintenance items for your sewing machine is also one of the most important. Best of all, it’s cheap! Changing to a new needle can eliminate poor stitching, skipping, fabric snags, and can even cut down on lint accumulating in your machine! More importantly, keeping a good needle in the machine can help avoid costly repairs caused by the needle damaging parts of your machine. Dull needles can impact your bobbin case, needle plate, even the hook of your machine, resulting in costly repair bills. Now, we love to see you often, but I’m sure you’d rather not spend money unnecessarily. So, as do most industry experts, we recommend changing to a new needle (NOT the one you stuck back in the box a couple of times), when you finish 6-8 hours of stitching. Since no-one that I know can actually tell me how many hours they’ve sewed on the needle in their machine, I use a different rule of thumb:
1. If the needle starts making a soft “popping” sound as it sews, change the needle.
2. If you’ve sewed an entire quilt top with it, change the needle.
3. If you ding the needle against the foot or needle plate, change the needle.
4. If you are starting a project and have no clue how long the needle has been used, change the needle.
Starting to see the pattern? Needles are cheap. Sewing machine repairs and fabric are not cheap. If your project is worth using good fabric, good thread and lots of your time on, it’s worth a 50 cent needle.
What kind of needle should you use? That’s actually another upcoming article, but you should select a quality brand of needle, (we recommend Inspira and Schmetz needles, but there are others). Better needles stay sharp longer, break less easily and sew a better stitch. Also, the needle should be matched to the fabric and thread you will sew with. There are needles for denim, stretch fabric, leather, and lots more – we’ll feature that another time. But suffice it to say, changing your needle can save a lot of aggravation and expense (although I’m sure you wanted to come visit us anyway!). Happy Sewing!