The Sewing Place

Changing needles

rowe1311

Changing needles
« on: January 17, 2018, 15:46:41 PM »
How often do you change your needles, especially ball point or stretch? 

I have several needle boxes with various sized and type of needles in them.  Every time I finish a project I take the needle out and put it back in its box, so I don't get confused. 

Now I don't know how long I have been using a size 12 stretch needle.  When do u know when to change needles?    I don't think it has been used that much, but the armholes on a viscose jersey dress have stretched and not sure if that is my bad sewing or the needle.  Roughly how many hems/bindings/bands do u think a Schmetz stretch could do? 

Morgan

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2018, 16:34:18 PM »
It depends -

The real answer is you bin the needle when you hear a thuck, thuck noise whether it's new or been sewing forever.


The received wisdom is about 8 hours of actual sewing time . . .
BUT
that varies depending on -
- the size of the needle (smaller sizes tend to dull quicker and can bend more easily than thicker  bigger needles)
- the fabric (some synthetic fabrics dull the heck out of a needle);
or
-  sometimes the thread being used (eg. bonded nylon, metallic, etc wearing a groove in the eye of the needle);
or
- the job your'e asking the needle to do eg. 8 hours at stitch length 2mm involves double the amount of needle penetrations of 8 hrs with stitch length 4mm  Some synthetics can dull the heck out of a needle and so can stitching through lots of thick layers.

As mentioned above, the real answer is you bin the needle when you hear a thuck, thuck noise.

Often issues with needles become apparent because a needle of too small a size of needle is being used for the thread and type of fabric.

Also, once a needle has been used for metallic thread, don't use it for anything else.

Depending on what type of sewing you do most of the time and the fabrics you use, it makes sense to try and buy in as few different types of needle.

There's no point in scrimping on needles for the sake of a few pennies - often we've invested silly amounts of money in our machines and none of us want to ruin gorgeous fabric.
That said, there's a balance to be found between what's practical and works for you.
It helps getting to know when it's time to bin a needle.


Currently I stick to 4 types

Stretch needles (sizes 10, 12 mostly, 14) - for any fabric with lycra and all knits
Microtex (9, 10, 11 mostly) - for fine lightweight fabrics and some troublesome ones.
Titanium coated top stitch needles (Sizes 11/12 mostly, 14 & 16) - for all general sewing and machine embroidery and when using metallic thread  (titanium coated needles last around 8 times longer than conventional needles).  The truth is I use them for machine embroidery and now also use them for any general sewing that doesn't need a Stretch or Microtex.


ELX705 coverstitch & overlock needles (sizes 12 mostly & 14)- used for both overlocking and coverstitch for both wovens and knit fabrics.  I can't be bothered with changing out different types of needles for O/L & cover stitch and keeping track of them.  However, I do keep an eye on making sure the needles are the right sizes.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 22:44:52 PM by Morgan »

sewmuchmore

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2018, 17:09:45 PM »
I change mine every time I start to sew something different or after 6/8 hours if it is a long project. I never put needles back in their box, even if they have only been used for a short length of time, as I would never remember when/how long I had used it for.
Overlock needles are changed weekly and embroidery machine needles every time I do something new.
I do not believe in skimping on needles, no matter how good your machine is the vast majority of problems when sewing are caused by needles i.e. wrong size/type for the fabric, bent or blunt. And I would avoid the unbranded needles like the plague.
It's not easy being this perfekt

Janet

Acorn

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2018, 17:15:34 PM »
It was a lovely, lovely day when I first put a Schmetz titanium needle into my embroidery machine.   :loveit:
I might look as though I'm talking to you, but inside my head I'm sewing.

tumblina

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2018, 17:23:00 PM »
I put my lightly used needles in a tomato pin cushion that I've sectioned for types and sizes of needles. This prevents me from grabbing an old needle when I'm sewing nice fabric! I'll keep using the old ones for quick projects or muslins until it starts skipping stitches, sounding off, snarling thread or bending. Knock wood, I haven't damaged anything yet!

Sewingsue

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2018, 17:26:17 PM »
@Morgan can I check please? You use topstitch needles for general sewing?
I assumed they were specially made for topstitching - or is it that they are just meant for thicker threads?
Bernina Aurora 440QE, Brother BC-2500, Singer 99K (1938), Silver Viscount 620D overlocker.

Roger

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2018, 18:33:33 PM »
I was always told ‘as often as you change your pants’ 8-12 hours but when the quality drops it’s time to change, or check you have the right needle...

I bought some Klasse needles... they’ve done fine but now I have Schmetz and Gross Beckert (sp) for my next project... I’m hoping they will feel great
A bit of a vintage sewing machine nut! Singers: 500a, 401g, 48k Elnas: lotus SP & grasshopper, Bernina 530-2 F+R 504, Pfaff 30, Cresta T-132

jen

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2018, 18:42:50 PM »
Ha ha! I was thinking I only change mine when I hear that thuck thuck noise Morgan refered to, but didn't want to admit it.

rowe1311

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2018, 19:45:30 PM »
Thanks for the reply, lots of great information.  I have quite a few types of needles, top stitch, embroidery, stretch, ball point, metallic and universal, but I haven't even opened the packets on the top stitch. So far for machine embroidery, I have just been using normal sew all thread, and universal needles.  Is that okay, or should I be using the top stitch ones?  I have organised my different needles into little boxes, and then tiny poly bags for old ones that I use for practice and paper work.  The pin cushion sounds a good idea, except the children would probably find it and move them all around for me.   

8 hours sounds a good basis and not sure how long I have used the stretch one for, but will be off to listen to the thuck thuck noise.  Is there a thuck thuck demo on youtube???

arrow

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2018, 20:25:13 PM »
I have heard of people taking over a used machine throwing out all needles and thread, because they would not be bothered by possibly used needles mixed with the unused.

If you can run a needle across the tip of your nail and it doesn't catch it's still fine, runing the tip lightly over a nylon stocking will show any signs of wear too. A package of vintage needles can be a fine, but we need to know what's worth keeping. If you have a box of needles you need to sort out, it works very well. 

BrendaP

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2018, 20:45:40 PM »
I do usually change the needle, and dispose of the old one, if I am about to start on a biggish project, but for little jobs if there isn't a "thuck thuck" noise and the machine is stitching well I use the existing needle.

IME modern machines are much more tempramental about having a pristine needle than vintage machines are.  The first machine I owned was a hand crank Singer - no idea now what model it was but it was blue and straight stitch only - and in those days the needle was only replaced if it broke!  When I upgraded to a then high spec Frister Rossman with cams for zig-zag and stretch stitch patterns in 1973 I came to realise that if a needle had been in use for too long the stitch quality suffered.  My philosophy now is that if the machine is stitching well with no "thuck-thuck" the needle doesn't need replacing, when I do change it the old one goes in the bin (actually a plastic pot with a lid).  The only used needles I keep are twin needles which generally only get used for a few minutes to do a bit of top stitching.
Brenda.  My machines are: Caroline a Singer 201K-3 born 1940, Thirza a Featherweight 221K born 1949, Azilia a Singer 201K born 1957 and Vera, a Husqvarna 350 SewEasy about 20 years old. Also Bernina 1150 overlocker and Elna 444 Coverstitcher.
http://paternoster.orpheusweb.co.uk/

DementedFairy

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2018, 21:22:36 PM »
Thuck it and thee
C'est moi!

Morgan

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2018, 22:36:40 PM »
. . . topstitch needles for general sewing?
I assumed they were specially made for topstitching - or is it that they are just meant for thicker threads?


It's about the engineering - the groove and the elongated eye. The deep groove it's great at cradling and protecting thin sewing thread (including machine embroidery thread usually 40s) from abrasion as well as thicker threads.
(I use them for general sewing that doesn't need either a stretch or microtex needle because I use them for machine embroidery and I can't be bothered to buy and keep track of even more different types of needles. Thread breakage is a rare event.)

Bob explains all sorts about top stitch needles in the videos below and there are some other gems he shares.  Take from them what you wish.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U48srIlnWg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=magTIhmFVgw


« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 22:39:19 PM by Morgan »

Morgan

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2018, 23:01:03 PM »
. . .but I haven't even opened the packets on the top stitch. So far for machine embroidery, I have just been using normal sew all thread, and universal needles.  Is that okay, or should I be using the top stitch ones? 
 
I'm a great believer in doing what works for you, there are no sewing or embroidery police so if the needles you are using are the right size for the thread and they work with the fabric and you're happy with the result that's fine.

When you mention machine embroidery with sew all thread - do you mean decorative stitching with sew all thread or embroidery in machine embroidery mode with sew all thread?
Machine embroidery designs are most often digitised for 40wt thread and I suspect that very few are designed for a thread weight/thickness similar to sew-all thread.  Stitching a design intended for 40wt thread with sew all thread could be asking for trouble eg. stitch pileups, thread breakage, needle breaks and bullet proof embroidery.

For Machine Embroidery, in general it's usual to use either an 'embroidery' needle or a 'top stitch' needle.  For machine embroidery with metallic threads, it's usual to use a top stitch needle or a metallic needle (they are the same thing).
Thread is important - for most designs, usually either rayon or polyester 40s on top and a bobbin fill (usally 60s) in the bobbin.  Some designs are digitised for a thicker 30wt machine embroidery thread. 

. . .Is there a thuck thuck demo on youtube???
Don't know, but you will know the sound when you hear it.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 23:16:11 PM by Morgan »

mudcat

Re: Changing needles
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2018, 02:45:08 AM »
I use Schmetz Universal 80/12 for nearly everything.  I change them out every garment or two depending on the amount of sewing that was done.  I only change sizes for very heavy (cotton tapestry), very light (chiffon) or particularly problematic fabric (a light weight rayon/lycra that didn't like any needle or any stitch width/length). 

I have a 20 year old Viking #1 and it seems happy with the 80/12 universal 99% of the time.