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.
What the colors on sewing machine needles mean
Different needles have different strengths and weaknesses, and color codes can help you better understand them.
Most new household sewing needles have two bands of color.
The top color band indicates needle type and the lower color band indicates needle size.
Special use needles, like those used for hemstitching, double eye, and quick threading, only have one color band to identify needle size.
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.
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.
Needle size for sewing vinyl
Vinyl is a heavier weight fabric, requiring a larger size needle to handle thickness without breaking.
Before starting your next vinyl project, prep your sewing machine with a leather or denim needle size 90/14.
For perfectly symmetrical stitches in vinyl, use a denim twin needle.
Between needles, when to use them
Between needles are what quilters use to ‘sandwich’ padding and patterns together.
The shaft of a between needle is shorter than average so that it does not bend as easily while quilting.
Between needles come in different sizes, however, the best size for your quilting application is the one which barely allows the thread you are using to fit through the eye of the needle.
Needle type that works best on batting
A quilting needle works best on batting because it has a thin shaft.
Machine quilting with a quilting needle is ideal for pushing through top, batting and binding materials.
The slightly rounded tip and tapered shaft of a quilting needle easily pierces several layers of woven fabric, without damaging them.
Properly setting sewing machine tension
A 4.5 sewing machine tension setting is the default position for normal straight-stitch sewing.
4.5 is suitable for most fabrics, however, if you perform any stitch that requires width, like a zigzag stitch, you may find the tension is too tight.
Fine threads may require less tension in order to prevent thread breaking.
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 become bent, dull or develop a burr because damaged needles result in broken or shredded threads.
What 80 12 sewing needles are used for
80/12 sewing needles are for use in ball point applications with all-purpose thread.
Ball point needles are made especially for sewing T-shirt and jersey fabric.
Ball point tips don’t damage or break fibers when they pierce these types of fabric.