The thread that we choose to construct and quilt our quilts with is truly as important as the fabric and design.
Whether piecing a quilt or machine quilting, the needles you choose have a huge impact on the quality of your stitches and the overall effect of your finished project.
Threads, glorious Sulky and Gütermann threads
The variety of thread we have available to us as quilters is truly wonderful.
Everything from traditional cotton to silk, rayon, polyester and more from very fine to super heavyweight.
We have every color of the rainbow, multi-colored, variegated, neon, shiny and metallic.
Some needle basics
Your sewing machine needle works with your thread to create beautiful stitching.
Today we explore some of the basic considerations for choosing the correct SCHMETZ needle.
The anatomy of a sewing machine needle
Choosing the correct needle will be easier if you familiarize yourself with the components of a sewing machine needle and understand how the needle works with your thread.
The tip and point of the needle needs to be sharp enough to pierce your fabric cleanly and quickly without damaging the fibers or leaving too large a hole.
The eye of the needle should be the correct size and shape to allow your thread to feed easily without too much play.
Each needle has a long groove that runs down the front ending at the eye.
This groove should be deep enough to allow your thread to ride smoothly inside to protect it from abrasion and give smooth stitching.
If the groove is not deep enough then the thread will rub on the outside of the groove, shred and break.
The scarf is a little notch in the back side of the needle just above the eye.
This is what allows the hook of your machine to grab the top thread to make a stitch.
Needle sizes range from 60/8 (smallest) to 120/20 (largest), the first number being the European size and the second number North American.
As a general rule the smaller the thread the smaller the needle, the larger the thread the larger the needle.
When choosing your needle you must consider the fabric that you’ll be sewing, the weight or thickness of the thread you’re using and the technique you’ll be applying.
The eye must be the correct size and shape to allow the thread to run smoothly without damaging it.
Too small an eye will cause abrasion to the thread causing it to shred and break.
Too large an eye will cause the thread to bounce in the eye of the needle.
This can cause poor tension and can also cause the thread to break.
The shaft must be thick enough to go through your fabric and batting without bending but thin enough to create the smallest hole possible.
Too large a hole can cause the fabric to tear or wear more quickly and will allow the thread to slip back up through the hole.
This can cause poor tension when sewing or an issue called pin pricking when machine quilting.
Pin pricking is easily solved by using a needle with a smaller blade and slightly adjusting the top machine tension
A needle that’s too small, damaged or the wrong type can skip stitches.
This can be because the needle isn’t sharp enough to pierce the fabric quickly or because the scarf is not deep enough for the thickness of your thread.
Change your needle often!
The absolute maximum running time for a standard needle is eight hours.
The thread you’re using, the type of fabric you’re sewing, the condition of your machine and how you sew all affect the wear on your needle.
A new SCHMETZ needle is a happy SCHMETZ needle!
Each type of SCHMETZ needle has been made for a particular job and is named accordingly.
Each have different attributes that should be considered when choosing your needle.
We use many different needles for machine quilting.
Good stitch quality and even stitching can only be achieved with the correct SCHMETZ needle.
Now that we have examined a few of the sewing needle basics I hope that you’ll join me tomorrow as we continue our exploration of perfect pairings with SCHMETZ needles and beautiful Sulky and Gütermann cotton threads.
This is part 1 of 5 in this series.
Go to part 2: Cotton thread: versatility and variety
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