WHICH SEWING MACHINE NEEDLE SHOULD I BUY?
Todays market carries many types of home sewing machine needles. You will find regular sewing needles, embroidery needles, metallic needles, titanium needles and more. Some of these needles have multiple features and all have multiple sizes (9-20). It is no wonder we get confused. This guide is written to give you a better understanding about what you should be buying.
I use Organ machine needles because of their price and quality but most needles come with these same features. Organ needles come 10 to a pack as compared to many other brands, which only come 5 to a pack. Organ needles last twice as long as many competitors. Organ home sewing machine needles fit many machines, including Bernina, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna, Janome, Juki, Melco, Baby Lock, New Home, Poem, Riccar, Simplicity, Singer, Viking, White, and more. Their basic home machine needle is a FLAT SHANK needles, used by most home machine manufacturers. Organ needles also come with a larger eye for embroidery and metallic thread, in a heavy duty needle for heavy embroidery or quilting, or with a leather point. Organ needles come either with a chrome finish or a titanium-nitride ceramic finish. These are just some of the needles manufactured by Organ but these are the ones that most sewers will be choosing from.
TYPE OF POINT
The first decision you must make is between a sharp point and a ball point (BP) needle. Ball point needles have a rounded tip and are used to push between the fibers when sewing instead of making a hole or a break in the actual fiber. This is why they are used for knits or tightly woven materials. Imagine a run in a stocking; that is what can happen on knit material when using a SHARP needle point. A sharp point needle is what is says, sharp on the end, perfect for woven material.
TYPE OF NEEDLE
Next you will need to look at the type of the actual needle. Organ needles come in a variety of types, not all of which are discussed in this article. The basic, a 15x1 HAx1 is the standard home sewing machine needle. It is perfect for most home sewing, quilting, and embroidery machines. It is available is a variety of sizes and it the place to start with most projects. I would say to try it before going on to a more expensive needle. It works for 80% of my applications.
Next is the 15x1 ST. This is what I call the embroidery needle because it comes with a larger eye. This reduces the stress on the thread while embroidering or doing decorative work. It will also accomodate your larger threads, like a metallic or a heavy top stitching thread. If you are getting a lot of thread breakage, then step up to this needle. This needles is also great if you are just having trouble seeing to thread the needle.
The HLx5 needle is a heavy duty needle produced by Organ. If you are bending a lot of needles, then upgrade to this one. It is actually an industrial sized needle, made to go through multiple layers. It is great for heavy embroidery, or sewing on demin, jeans, or even quilting.
TYPE OF COATING
Needles come in either a chrome finish or a titanium finish. Organ's titanium finished needles are labeled PD for Perfect Durability. These needles have a special coat using the latest ceramic technology. This titanium-nitride is layered on the surface to extend their life by as much as 5 times the chrome plated needles. They are stronger than other needles while maintaining elasticity, thus reducing thread breakage. They are more wear resistant also. Not all needles types and sizes are offered with the titanium coating. Titanium needles are more costly than chrome plated needles and may not fit all budgets.
There are many guides out there for choosing the correct needle sizes so I won't go into this too much. In fact, many of our sewing machine manuals come with a basic needle guide. Personally, I use size 10 and 12 for most of my work, which is embroidery and quilting. The rule of thumb is to use the smallest size needle that you can so as not to leave a hole in your fabric. Very lightweight materials, use the smallest size you can get. Heavy denim may take a size 14 or 16. To me, this is an area not set in stone, but more of something you will get a feel for the more that you sew. You will KNOW when you need to go up a size (or down). Trust your instincts.
HOW OFTEN DO I CHANGE MY NEEDLE
Some will tell you to change your needle with every project, some will say every 4 hours (8 hours with Organ needles). Here again you need to trust your instincts. If that needle has been in there since you bought your machine, chances are that it is WAY overdue. But if you just did a small project on a new needle, it will probably be good for a few more. Changing your needle not only depends upon time, but how you were using it and on what material. Doing heavy embroidery will dull a needle and your machine will tell you ("I wonder why this design is looping all of a sudden"). Another key sign is thread breaking during embroidery (when it wasn't before). This may also be a sign of too small of a needle, which is why I say "trust your instinct". Personally, if I am unsure, then I change my needle, especially if doing embroidery. I can use the old ones for hanging pictures (they leave very tiny holes in the walls and are pretty strong, a trick taught to me by my favorite Bernina shop).