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1. The basic functions of a needle
2. Needle Parts: Physical characteristics
3. Needle Identification
4. Round Point Needles
5. Needle Size / Thickness
6. Comparison of Equivalent Needle Sizes
7. Common Problems and Solutions
8. Needle Checklist
9. Checking a Needle that is already in a Machine
SEWING MACHINE NEEDLE
Functions of the needle
• To produce hole in the material
• To carry the needle thread through the
material and there form a loop
• To pass the needle thread through the loop
PARTS OF THE NEEDLE
SEWING NEEDLE PARTS
• The end of the needle
• The butt determine the length of the needle when it is
fully inserted into the needle bar of the sewing machine.
• upper part of the needle
• may be cylindrical or have a flat side.
• larger in diameter than the rest of the needle for reason
• Intermediate between shank and the blade
• It is also called shaft
SEWING NEEDLE PARTS
• Below the shoulder of the blade to the eye of the needle
• Longest part of the needle.
• Accommodates the groove, the eye and the scarf.
• The blade reduces the fabric resistance as the needle point
and its eye passes through the fabric
• Greatest amount of the friction .
SEWING NEEDLE PARTS
• Slit above needle eye, should be large enough to "cradle"
thread for smooth stitches.
• Provides a protective channel in which the thread is drawn
• A Correctly shaped long groove of a depth matched to the
thread diameter, offers considerable protection to the thread.
• It extends a little above and below the eye
• Its function is to assist in the formation of the loop in the
SEWING NEEDLE PARTS
• Concave section above the eye of the needle
• Indentation at back of needle.
• A long scarf helps eliminate skipped stitches by allowing bobbin hook to
loop thread more easily.
SEWING NEEDLE PARTS
Hole in end of needle through which thread passes.
The hole through which the thread pass
Eye is located below the scarf
Needle size and type determine size and shape of eye.
Point: minimizes the damage of the fabric
SEWING NEEDLE AND THREAD
IF THE NEEDLE IS TOO SMALL FOR THE THREAD
• Thread will not pass freely through the eye
• Thread will not fit properly into the long groove.
• Thread will suffer from excessive abrasion.
• Can lead to costly thread breakages in production.
IF THE NEEDLE IS TOO LARGE FOR THE THREAD
• There will be poor control of the loop formation which may cause
• It will create holes in the fabric which are too big for the stitches
and give an unattractive seam appearance.
• Tends to give rise to damaged fabric along the stitch line, and in
closely woven fabrics, pucker along the seam line due to fabric
Most machine needles will
look similar but they will
differ in their tips:
Set/Spear point - These are
used for most woven fabrics.
Ball point - These have a
rounded tip and are used for
knitted fabrics. The rounded
end allows the needle to
separate the yarns without
cutting them, which reduces
the chance of the fabric
Wedge point - These are
designed to cut a hole as they
penetrate the fabric. They are
used for machining leather
and plastic materials.
SPEAR NEEDLE POINT
SLIM SET POINT
HEAVY SET POINT
BALL NEEDLE POINT
LIGHT BALL POINT
MEDIUM BALL POINT
HEAVY BALL POINT
EFFECT OF DIFFERENT NEEDLE POINTS
Slim Set Point also referred to as acute
round point (SPI)
* This point is used for dense woven fabrics as it
causes less damage, helps set a straighter stitch
and minimizes seam pucker.
* Commonly used for microfibre and densely
woven fabrics, coated materials, topstitching of
collars and cuffs in shirts.
Set Cloth Point also referred to as normal round
This point is used for normal fabrics with standard
seams as it pushes the yarn to the side.
Light Ball Point (SES)
This point is used for sewing lightweight knitted
fabric. It is sometimes used for fine denim and light,
densely woven material to avoid damaging the
Medium Ball Point (SUK)
This point is used for sewing medium weight knitted
fabric. It is also used for medium to coarse denims,
particularly sand-washed and stonewashed grades
Heavy Ball Point (SKF)
This point is used for coarse knitwear and for
sewing dense woven elastic (it won’t push the elastic
Special ball point (SKL)
Used for medium to course elastic materials with
covered elastomeric threads and very coarse
Cutting Point Needles
• Cutting point needles have sharp tips like blades.
• These tips are available with a wide variety of crosssectional shapes such as lens, rounded, triangular and
• They can be used while sewing dense, non-fabric based
• They pierce the material more readily than the round point
types thereby generating less needle heat.
• There are a large number of cutting points of which around
11 are in regular use.
NEEDLE SIZE / THICKNESS
The size of a needle is generally represented
in one of two ways (although there are
One method is by a number metric (Nm).
This represents the diameter of the needle
blade in hundredths of a millimetre
measured just above the scarf but not at any
reinforced part of the blade.
NEEDLE SIZE / THICKNESS
For example, a Nm 110 needle is 1.1
millimetre in diameter, while a Nm 50
needle is half a millimetre in diameter.
The thickness of the blade on the right
is 1.1mm wide which is shown in Nm
The alternative standard needle sizing
method is the Singer/Asia numbering system
sometimes referred to as the American
system that uses a number that represents a
DETERMINING THE RIGHT NEEDLE FOR A
Here’s a quick way to determine if the thread and the sewing machine needle are
1. Take half a metre of the thread being used on the machine and thread it through
the eye of a loose needle.
2. Hold the thread vertically with the needle at the top.
If the needle is too big, it will drop to the bottom of the thread
If the needle is too small, it will stick at the top of the thread
If the needle is the right size, it will slowly spiral to the bottom of the
INSERTING A NEW NEEDLE
• Always ensure the needle is the correct needle system for
the sewing machine
• Make sure the needle size / eye fits the thread size being
• Make sure the needle is pushed all the way into the needle
• Ensure that the angle of the needle is correct
• After inserting a needle in the machine turn the machine
hand wheel manually to make sure the needle isn't
contacting any parts
CHECKING A NEEDLE
THAT IS ALREADY IN A MACHINE
• Is the needle inserted correctly?
• Is the needle contacting any machine parts?
• Is the needle bent?
• Is the eye rough or blocked with melted fibre?
• Is the point damaged?
• When in doubt change the needle!
Uses: Safest needle choice for most fabrics.
Configuration: Has slightly rounded point and
elongated scarf to enable almost foolproof meeting of
needle and bobbin hook.
Troubleshooting: When fabric is not medium-weight
woven, consider needle specifically suited to fabric. For
example, size 18 universal needle works on heavy
denim, but size 18 jeans needle works better.
BALLPOINT & STRETCH NEEDLES
Uses: Ballpoint needle for heavier, looser sweater
knits; stretch needle for highly elastic fabrics, like
Spandex, or Lycra.
Configuration: Both have rounded points that
penetrate between fabric threads rather than pierce
them. (Stretch-needle point is slightly less rounded than
Troubleshooting: Test-stitch knits with ballpoint,
stretch, and universal needles to see which doesn't cut
yarn and yields best results. If ballpoint skips stitches,
try stretch needle.
MICROTEX & SHARP NEEDLES
Uses: Sewing microfiber, silk, synthetic leather;
precisely stitching edges; and heirloom sewing.
Configuration: Has an acute point.
Troubleshooting: Essentially trouble-free, but fabric
may require a Teflon, roller, or even/dual-feed presser
Uses: Excellent for sewing natural leather.
Configuration: Has slight cutting point (almost like
Troubleshooting: On synthetic leather, unless it's
very heavy synthetic, cuts rather than pierces stitch
hole and can tear leather. Most synthetic leathers
require Microtex or sharp needle.
DENIM (JEANS) NEEDLE
Uses: For heavyweight denim, duck, canvas, upholstery
fabrics, artificial leather, and vinyl.
Configuration: Has deeper scarf, acute point, and
modified shaft to sew without pushing fabric down into
needle-plate hole. Goes through fabric and meets
bobbin hook better on dense woven fabrics.
Troubleshooting: If stitches skip when sewing very
heavy fabrics, try larger needle and sew more slowly or
walk needle through fabric (by turning hand crank).
HANDICAP/SELF THREADING NEEDLE
Uses: Enables easier threading for sewers with vision
Configuration: Universal needle with slip-in
threading slot at the eye.
Troubleshooting: Always pull sewn piece back away
from needle before cutting thread so needle doesn't
unthread. Needle works well on woven fabrics, but may
occasionally snag knits, so test-sew to check for fabric
and needle compatibility.
HEMSTITCH (WING) NEEDLE
Uses: Hemstitching or heirloom embroidery on linen
Configuration: Has fins on sides of shank to create
holes as you sew.
Troubleshooting: Stitch is more effective when
needle returns to same needle hole more than once.
TWIN (DOUBLE) NEEDLE
Uses: Topstitching, pin tucking, and decorative
Configuration: Two needles on single shaft produce
two rows of stitches. Measurement between needles
ranges from 1.6mm to 6mm, and needles come with
universal, stretch, embroidery, denim, and Metallica
Troubleshooting: Be sure throat plate allows for
distance between needles
Uses: Same uses as for double needle.
Configuration: Cross bar on single shaft connects
three needles to sew three stitching rows. Comes with
universal point in 2.5mm and 3mm widths.
Troubleshooting: Same as for double needle.
Uses: Free-motion stitching with dropped feed dogs.
Configuration: Has wire spring above point to
prevent fabrics from riding up onto needle, eliminating
need for presser foot.
Troubleshooting: Before using, practice free-motion
stitching with heavy regular needle, paper, and dropped
feed dogs. Don't pull paper/fabric; instead gently guide
it through stitching. Wear safety glasses for free-motion
work, since needles often break.