How to tell your sewing needle is dull
A dull sewing needle will make a popping sound each time the needle penetrates the fabric. A dull needle will not feel sharp to the touch. Using a magnifying glass you can confirm a needle is dull by comparing it to a sharp needle. You can sharpen a dull needle with the same sharpeners used on knives.
Most sewing machine needles are universal
The three most common types of needles are sharp, ballpoint, and universal. Sharp needles work with all woven fabric. A sharp point is especially helpful when sewing straight lines and tasks such as top stitching. The majority of needles are universal needles.
The best universal sewing needle size
The slightly rounded points of the best universal needles are sharp enough to pierce woven cotton fabrics but not so sharp as to damage knits. They come in sizes ranging from 60/8 to 120/19, however, a good starting point is the 80/12 size. To save money look for assorted needle packs that include two or three different needle sizes.
Why you should stitch in the ditch
Stitching in the ditch, also known as sewing between quilting borders, helps stabilize fabric and maintain straight lines while quilting. Stitching in the ditch is optional but can prevent pattern distortion and should be done before adding any quilting design above the border.
Stitching in the ditch by hand
Stitching in the ditch tucks two fabrics together along their seam, a process that can be done just as accurately by hand. The main benefit of stitching the ditch by hand is that it allows you to place your stitches more precisely. Overall, the choice is yours, but you can do this task by hand or by machine, whichever you prefer.
Choosing the best needle for free motion quilting
For free motion sewing machine quilting choose the needle size that best suits the weight of your thread. As a general rule 40 wt thread requires a size 75 needle. Unless you are piecing together extra thick padding a small to medium sized needle that is sharp to slightly rounded will work fine.
Why sewing machine needles break
Over time, sewing machine needles suffer stress damage or bend slightly, especially when sewing thick fabric. Too much bend can cause the needle to strike the feed dogs, throat plate, or bobbin case of the sewing machine. Excessive needle breaking can be avoided by slowing down while sewing or by using a sharper needle.
When to replace sewing machine needles
We recommend replacing old needles at the start of every project, or after every eight hours of sewing. Change your needles when they becomes bent, dull or develop a burr because damaged needles result in broken or shredded threads.
Embroidery needles vs sewing needles
Embroidery needles have larger eyes than regular sewing needles to accommodate embroidery thread. The sharp tips on embroidery needles penetrate tightly woven fabric and felt better. Embroidery needles, sometimes called crewel needles, are used for crewel embroidery
Sewing machine needles that work on leather
Cutting point sewing machine needles work well on heavy leather materials. For lighter weight leather something like an R point Groz-Beckert sewing needle works well. R point needles are considered sharp enought to punch through light leather quite easily.