Tell Me more all about needles.
Ihave a confession to make. I've never really cared about sewing machine needles. I don't use a brand new needle every time I start a new project--I usually run every needle to the ground before I change it. I don't keep the little packets that they come in so that I know the sizes. And, to be completely honest, I have never really cared what size or kind I use in my machine. I know, I know; how many years have I been a quilter? Long enough to know better! But, with 2014 being Quiltmaker's Year of Machine Quilting, I vowed to learn more--and take care of--my needles.
When I set out to learn more, I was thrilled to take a class about Schmetz needles from Rhonda Pierce at the International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas. Schmetz has taken out the mystery with their needle descriptions and color coding information. The diagrams below make it easier than ever to identify needles!
There are basically 3 types of needle points: sharp, ballpoint and universal. A ball point is used for knits, a sharp is used for woven fabrics and a universal can be used for either. Among those 3 needle points there are several types, which are indicated by the upper color band on the Schmetz needle. The most common types of needles used by quilters are quilting and universal needles. For special projects and embellishing, embroidery and metallic needles are often used.
The lower color band indicates the size. The size of the needle is determined by the size and shape of the eye (the hole where the thread passes through). The bottom numbers on the needle package indicate the needle size, such as 90/14. The larger number is European (metric) sizing, and the smaller number is American (universal sizing). Both of the numbers basically mean the same thing--the larger the number on the package size, the thicker or larger the needle. For general quilting, the most common sizes are 80/12 or 90/14. Try different sizes to see which one works best with the fabric and thread for your project. The general rule is the lighter the fabric the smaller the needle size and the heavier the fabric the larger the needle size. Likewise, when using a smaller needle size, use a finer thread and when using a larger needle size use a heavier, thicker thread.
Using the correct needle can make a huge difference in the quality and satisfaction of your work. It's a good idea to change your needle with every new project, which was my New Year's resolution. Care to join me? Happy quilting!
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