Updated: Feb 13
When to change your machine's needle
There are basic questions that every new quilter will ask. Should I change the needle with each quilt project? Or, the needle seems to be working, so why would I change the needle?
Well, the fact that the needle engages with your machine’s hook (connects with bobbin thread in hook) means that a damaged needle could damage the hook. For example, if you accidently hit a pin while sewing – the needle, even though it seems to sew ok, may in fact have been bent slightly, which means the needle isn’t engaging with the hook properly. Or, if the needle is worn down, or has a small bur; again, it changes how the needle will engage with the hook and may over time cause hook damage. Not to mention the quality of your stitches will be less than ideal.
How to Know when to change the needle:
The first place to look is the manufacturers manual that came with your machine. Read the manual or look on their website for information on when to replace the needle.
Your machine may suddenly seem to sew differently. For example, if stitches are suddenly being skipped, there’s a good chance that you need a new needle.
There are times when I automatically change the needle as a best practice. For example, I always change the needle on my long arm for each new client’s quilt. I want to make sure that I set up each quilt for success every time.
When I’m quilting my Art quilts, I always have extra needles on hand. Depending on the size of the quilt I may use 2 or more needles for each quilt.
Keep in mind that tightly woven fabric, like batiks, can wear down a needle faster. Batiks are great to work with, just be aware that depending on the size of your project, you may need to change your needle.
The best practice is to not sew over pins, remove them before you get to them. If your needle hits a pin, it can force it into the hook and cause damage. But in the least, the needle is now damaged – it can be bent or chipped – replace the needle.
Keep your hook healthy...
So, in summary, a good needle is required to engage with the bobbin thread in the hook and make the ‘loop’/stitch accurately. A dull needle, bent needle or a needle with a chip/bur on it may cause the needle to engage with the hook in a less than ideal way and possibly damage the hook. Therefore, when in doubt, change the needle. A good needle will keep your hook healthy and your stitches of a high quality!