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Sewing Machine Needles

-Prepared by -P.Lakshmana kanth, Senior Faculty – IFTK

• In the apparel industry there are literally thousands of different sewing machines, each requiring a different needle type. • Sewing machine needles are the most changeable part of your sewing machine and they can change how your machine forms stitches. • Understanding how the parts of a sewing machine needle work will help you choose the correct size for the fabric and thread you are sewing. • Understanding the sizing information on the needle packages will help you purchase the correct size.

Functions of Sewing Machine Needles
• The functions of the sewing machine needle are:
– To create a passage in the material for the thread to pass through. – To form a loop, which can be picked up by the hook, or looper, or a similar mechanisms – To pass the needle thread through the loop form by the looper mechanisms on the machines other than locked stitch.

Parts of Sewing machine Needle and their Functions

• Butt : the top end of the needle • Shank: The upper circular part of the needle which is inserted in the needle bar and is held by a set screw. It is usually larger in diameter than the rest of the needle for strength reasons. • Shoulder: This section in between the shank and the blade. • Blade : The long part of the needle between the shoulder and the eye

• Long Groove(S): The long groove runs down the length of the blade to provide a space so as to hold the thread along the blade while the needle pierces the material with minimum friction and to ensure that the thread does not get caught between the needle blade and the material when it passes through. • The groove depth should be sufficient enough with respect to thread diameter used in needle.

• Short Groove(S): This is on the side of the eye facing the hook and extends a little above and below the eye to facilitate initial thread passage into the material and to assist in loop information. • Eye: The hole extending through the needle blade from the long groove to the short groove. The shape of the inside top of the eye is critical; both in reducing thread damage during penetration of the material and in producing a good loop information. Some needles may have a bulged eye, i.e, having a larger cross section at the eye than in order to reduce needle or fabric friction.

• Clearance: A recess across the whole face of the needle, above the eye, which can vary in shape and length. It permits a closer setting of the hook or looper to the needle to aid loop pick up and reduce skip stitching under difficult conditions. • Point: The tapered end. It gives easy penetration of different materials and best appearance and less damage on the seams produced. It is often considered as the most critical aspect of the needle. The most common needles have a round point, a ball point, or a cutting point. Generally round points and ball points are used for woven and knit fabrics because they can penetrate the fabric by spreading the fibres or deflecting the yarns without damaging them. Needles with cutting points are used for leather. • Tip: The part of the needle that pierces the material.

Needle Systems
• The needle system refers to the fitting measurements of the needle which enable it to be suited for a model/ type of machine. • The dimensions / measurements generally stipulated are: – The shank diameter of thickness – The needle length – The shank length

Needle Selection
• Once the needle system type is determined, the needle selection – its needle point and size – depends primarily on the characteristics of the fabric, but also on the thread, seam type and stitch type.

Needle Points
• The needle point is determined by the fabric weight and its structure. • Round points have conical shape designed to spread the yarns without breaking them; they are used for most woven and many knitted materials. • Ballpoint needles have round point and range from light to heavy. They are generally used for knits and stretch fabrics and sometimes for button sewing because they center most misaligned buttons and do not cut existing stitches.

• Cutting Points have sharp cutting edges; they are used on leather, suede, and neoprene. • Sharp needles are for all woven fabric. The sharp point is especially helpful when sewing straight lines and tasks such as tops stitching. • Ballpoint needles are designed for knit fabric so that the point glides between the loops of a knit fabric without disturbing the fibers that make up the fabric. Ball point needles do not form as straight stitching as sharp needles. The non-straight stitching is more apt to stretch with the fabric.

• Universal needles can be used with woven or knit fabric. The point of a universal needle is sharp yet very slightly rounded giving it the characteristics of a sharp and a ballpoint needle. If you are not happy with the stitches your machine is forming, try switching the needle to either a ball point or sharp.

Types of Needles
• For use in a particular machine, needle must conform to the machine manufacturer’s specification as regards shank diameter, length from butt to eye and total length. • Some types of needles used for different machines are given below in the table:
Sl.No 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Machine Single Needle Lock Stitch Double Needle Lock Stitch Single Needle Chain Stitch (class 401) Over Lock Feed of Arm Bar-tack Button Stitch Flat lock, Button Hole Needle Used DB X 1 DP X 5 DB x 5 DC x 1, DC x 27 UV 128 GAS DP X 5 TQ X 1, TQ X 7 TV X 1

Needle Sizes
• Sewing machine needles sizes are determined according to both the American and/or European system of sizing. • Generally both numbers will be given.
– European sizes are: 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, and 110 – American sizes are: 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18

When packages list both sizes, the European size is written over the American size and looks like a fraction. For example: 60/8, 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, 100/16, and 110/18. • A good rule of thumb to remember is that the smaller the number, the finer the needle. In addition, the finer the fabric, the smaller the needle size needs to be, to reduce the stress on the fabric.

Selecting the right needle for the fabric

For Woven fabric
Fabric Weight and types of Fabric For feather weight and Batiste, chiffon, fine lace, voile, very light weight fabrics organza, georgette, transparent fabrics, and microfibers Needle Types sharps, universals Needle Sizes 60/8 and 70/10

For lightweight fabrics
For lightweight to medium weight fabrics For medium weight fabrics

Challis, chambray, charmeuse, crepe, sharps, dotted swiss, satin, lace, taffeta universals
Metallics, gingham, percale, seersucker Broadcloth, brocade, pique, shantung, silk suiting, chinz, faille, felt, polyester blends, acrylics, woolens, worsteds, washable wools, fleece, gabardine, outerwear Denim, twill weave fabric, corduroy, terry cloth, velour, faux fur sharps, universals sharps, universals

60/8 and 70/10
60/8, 70/10, and 80/12 70/10, 80/12, and 90/14

For medium weight to heavy weight fabrics

sharps, denim, 70/10, universals 80/12, 90/14 and 100/16 sharps, universals 80/12, 90/14, and 100/16

For heavy weight fabrics Canvas, coatings, duck such as:

For Knit fabric
Fabric Weight and types of Fabric For lightweight fabrics For light to medium weight Double knit, interlock, jersey, mesh, panne, velvet, rib knit Velour, fleece, sweater knits, sweat shirt knits Needle Types universals and stretch universals, stretch, and ballpoint universals, stretch and ballpoint Needle Sizes 60/8, and 70/10 60/8, 70/10, and 80/12 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, and 100/16

For medium to heavy weight fabrics

Faux fur, double knit, and fleece

Different Types of Needles

Ball Point Needle
• Made especially for sewing on knits. Its unique point does not damage or break knitted fibers. • It comes in size 10/70 through 16/100 and in an assortment pack. • Choose the size that will handle the thread being used when sewing on knits.

Denim/Jeans Needle
• Made especially for sewing through densely woven materials such as denim or imitation leather. It is both strong and sharp. • Some quilters use it when sewing through many layers of fabrics, especially high thread count batiks. • This needle comes in sizes 10/70 through 18/110. Choose the size based on the type of thread being used. • The heavier jeans threads work best with the larger needle.

Double Eye Needle
• Used for embroidery and topstitching with decorative threads to produce decorative seams. • They have two (2) eyes, one right above the other. Two different threads can be used for shading and texturing effects. • These needles work in machines that use the 130/705H system needles.

Double Needle (Twin Needle)
• Comes in a variety of needle types and sizes. • Double needles are actually two needles mounted on one shaft and are used to create two rows of stitches at the same time. • When using a double needle two spools of thread will be used in the top of the machine. • Pass the thread from each one on a different side of the tension discs and thread one into each needle. • Only one bobbin thread will be used and the stitches will create a double "web" of stitches on the back of the work.

Embroidery Needle
• For use with rayon and other specialty machine embroidery threads including polyesters. • The special scarf, long smooth groove, and large eye, of this needle protect these more fragile threads and guard against excess friction. • These needles come in size 75 and 90. The beautiful sheen of these threads results in outstanding embroidery work. • Check the size of the thread and use the appropriate size needle for each thread — remember the finer the thread, the smaller size needle that should be used.

Gold Embroidery Needle
• The special Titanium Nitride ceramic coating improves needle wear resistance in high stitch count applications and penetration of coarse or densely woven materials. • Has a slightly rounded point for embroidery on most fabrics. • The enlarged eye accommodates special application threads.

Hemstitch Needle
• Sometimes called a Wing Needle. It is used to create decorative openwork or cut-work on tightly woven fabrics. • This needle comes in sizes 100 and 120 and should be used with caution as it is very sharp and is made to actually cut the fabric. • The user may want to use a stabilizer and experiment with decorative stitches when using this needle. • Carefully hand turn the needle through the stitch movements before actually trying it on the project to assure that the throat plate opening will accommodate the design! Using a straight stitch plate will probably result in a broken needle.

Leather Needle
• Has a slightly sharp cutting point for leather and other heavy non-woven synthetics including imitation leather. • It comes in size 8/60 through 18/110 and in an assortment package. • Choose the size based on the type and size of thread being used.

Metallic Needle
• A must for sewing with metallic threads. • It comes in sizes 80 and 90 and helps prevent shredding and breaking with metallic threads. • It has a double sized, polished, and Teflon coated eye to assure smooth flow of thread.

Microtex Sharp
• A very slim needle with a thin shaft that helps make very straight stitches. • It was developed for the modern micro- fibers and polyesters and high thread count, high quality fabrics used today. • The point is very sharp — thus the name — but because of this it is a bit more fragile and needs to be changed more regularly. • This is a great needle for piecing high thread count fabrics like Batiks, silks, and microfibers. • It is also used for beautiful topstitching or edge stitching. It comes in sizes 60, 70, 80, and 90.

Quilting Needle
• Made especially for piecing and machine quilting. • The thin tapered design of these needles allows them to pass through many layers smoothly to help eliminate skipped stitches and keep stitches even. • These needles come in size 75 which is fine for piecing with 50 weight threads or size 90 which works well with heavier plain or variegated 40 weight threads for quilting.

Self-Threading Needle
• A general purpose needle with a slip-in threading slot for people who have difficulty threading needles. • These needles are helpful for children, those with vision problems, or those having difficulties with fine motor coordination resulting from arthritis or other conditions. • They come in sizes 12/80 and 14/90

Stretch Needle
• Made especially for synthetic suede or highly elastic synthetic knit wear. • This needle is constructed with a medium ball point to help prevent skipped stitches. It comes in sizes 11/75 and 14/90.

Topstitch Needle
• Has an extra large eye and large grooves to accommodate topstitch thread. • This needle helps stitch perfectly straight lines and even stitches. • It comes in sizes 10/70, 12/80 and 14/90 and 16/100. • It is helpful to use a straight stitch plate if you are expecting perfectly straight top stitching results.

Triple Needle
• Triple needles are actually three needles mounted on one shaft and are used to create three rows of decorative stitching at the same time

Universal Needle
• A general purpose needle that can be used on knit or woven fabrics. • A casual sewer who might repair a pair of jeans today, a child’s t-shirt tomorrow, and some lingerie next month will probably use this needle most often. • It will do a number of tasks sufficiently. • It has a long scarf that is great for zigzag stitching and it does not damage knits. • It is sharp enough to go through a lot of fabrics but it does have a slight ball point which does not make it ideal for going through many layers or high thread count fabrics. • This needle comes in a wide range of sizes from size 60 to size 120.

Characteristics of good Sewing machine needle
• • • • • Needle should be sharp Needle should be brittle Needle elasticity should be very less Needle should withstand high temperature Needle should be made up of stainless steel with chromium coating.

Reasons to change a needle
• There are many reasons for changing the needle. Some of them are • The needle is damaged: bent, burred, or broken • The needle is dull and makes a popping sound when stitching • The thread breaks frequently during stitching • The machine is skip stitching • A different thread size is required • A different fabric is sewn with a different weight, thickness, and construction.