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Know how old your needle is

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quiltswalia Posted: Fri, Sep 20 2013 8:23 AM

I stick a piece of masking tape on my sewing machine.  When I change my needle, I write the date on the tape so I can be reminded when it was last changed.  All too often I have sewn with a dull needle and this subtle reminder works for me.

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Nana replied on Fri, Sep 20 2013 12:42 PM

I change my needle with each new project or every 8 to 10 hrs of sewing time.

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Flo replied on Fri, Sep 20 2013 3:26 PM

I change mine with every new project and about half way thru each project since I am also throwing countless mending jobs in between each project.

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Just curious - what sorts of problems do old needles cause?  I'm always forgetting to change my needle.  Sometimes, I get to where I can't even remember when I last changed it or how many projects I've done since then.  I change it when I remember, but generally, the times I remember to change it are just when I'm having some kind of problem and troubleshooting to find the cause.  So, I was just curious what sorts of problems it causes to have old needles.  I've never really been able to pinpoint anything.  

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Flojo replied on Fri, Sep 20 2013 9:30 PM

Here are a few things that a dull needle does on my machine. 

Starts skipping stitches

Makes a dull popping noise that indicates the needle is breaking threads instead of going between them

Thread starts breaking frequently

pulls threads along the seam line

and ultimately the needle will bend and/or break when crossing a seam

I try not to let it get this far by changing my needle at the first sign of trouble or when I change the type of fabric I am sewing.

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ls2116 replied on Sat, Sep 21 2013 12:53 AM

I really should change my needle Thanks for reminding me. My goal is to change it after each quilt but then I look at it and it looks fine but i forget about all the burs that are caused by not removing pins soon enough when I'm sewing.

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Rhonnie replied on Sat, Sep 21 2013 2:14 AM

I want to change mine more than I do. I have read all the bad things it does to the projects and sometimes even the tension on the machines. I am horrible I keep forgetting.

Is there a needle that some of you prefer or find stays sharper longer?

I know for me I use Schmitz but that is old school of what my home ec teacher said was the best needle to use. I didn't know if things had changed over the years or if it even mattered anymore. 

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Rhonnie replied on Sat, Sep 21 2013 2:28 AM

I always say I will change mine more often but like so many I look at it and think its fine. I forget all the bad things a dull needle causes like the list that was mentioned. 

I was wondering is there a particular needle brand you like? Is there one that stays sharper longer?

I use Schmitz needles.My home economics teacher said they were the best so I've used them ever since. I was just wondering,

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Rhonnie replied on Sat, Sep 21 2013 2:30 AM

Since my first post didn't post I redid it now they both appear. 

Sorry for the double posting

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I have had the best experiences with the Schmetz MICROTEX 80/12. It is a sharp needle, not a ball point/universal. It made a big difference in my free motion quilting. If I am piecing with calicos I can do two twin size quilts before I need to change the needle. The batik fabrics wear the needle out more quickly, so I change the needle after every batik piecing.

Joanns usually has 70% off notions once or twice a year. One of the times is usually near Thanksgving. I stock up on enough needles to last me a year.

Denise Smart

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Sue replied on Sat, Sep 21 2013 9:09 AM

I've just started using the Superior Titanium coated Topstitch needles, sizes 12 and 14.  For one thing, I can see the size much easier on the shank than on the Schmetz needles.  I like too that the Superior have a longer scarf on the back for those heavier threads.  Just finished quilting a large queen with 12 weight thread, which looks great, and used a size 14 for the whole process.  No breaking, no skipped stitches, flawless stitching.  I will stock up at Houston Int'l quilt show next month instead of ordering from Superior.  Why?  Because when I ordered two packages of needles, they came boxed in a very large package that didn't fit my mailbox!  When I wrote to ask why, they said because some smaller packages were getting crushed by the PO.  Where my mail is delivered, I have to pay extra for anything that does not fit in the box. 

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Thanks Flojo and others for the explanation.  

Raleigh, NC

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Karla replied on Wed, Sep 25 2013 10:34 AM

Flojo:

Here are a few things that a dull needle does on my machine. 

Starts skipping stitches

Makes a dull popping noise that indicates the needle is breaking threads instead of going between them

Thread starts breaking frequently

pulls threads along the seam line

and ultimately the needle will bend and/or break when crossing a seam

I try not to let it get this far by changing my needle at the first sign of trouble or when I change the type of fabric I am sewing.

I notice that my machine does all of the above when I have a dull needle and since I sew with batiks a lot, I change a lot of needles on my domestic.  On my midarm I use titanium high speed needles by Schmetz and they work great for me.  Haven't had too many problems with thread breakage since I bought the titanium needs and went to using 40 wt. Superior thread.  Unfortunately, JoAnn's in my area stopped carrying the Superior thread, and my LQS has a limited supply and not a whole color range, but I just order directly from Superior with the colors I can't find at my local LQS.  

 

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Nana replied on Wed, Sep 25 2013 10:39 AM

I always clean the bobbin race at the end of the day or when I have to change bobbins.   I usually have been sewing for numerous hours by that time so I change my needle at the same time as I clean the machine.

Vinton, Virginia

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Roxana replied on Wed, Sep 25 2013 11:53 PM

Nana:

I always clean the bobbin race at the end of the day or when I have to change bobbins.   I usually have been sewing for numerous hours by that time so I change my needle at the same time as I clean the machine.

Great tip!

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