The other day I was having trouble with a metallic thread I was using breaking periodically. It sewed beautifully for a bit and then broke. I rethreaded and it did it again. I was using a Superior 90/14 titanium top stitch needle, which is the one I use the most and which handles 40 weight embroidery threads extreamly well. The metallic thread was about a 40 weight. I finally decided to change the needle for a Klasse needle that I happened to have on hand that is designed for metallic threads. It sewed so well I managed to finish my project without another thread break.
I have had the same good results when sewing with monopoly threads when I use a 70 universal needle rather than a top stitch needle I was using. I think the needles kind of “step on” these specialy threads and the slight rounded needle point just slides by the thread rather than break.
Sew as I am getting to know my new Bernina 880 plus, Odette, I have been planning new projects and testing various techniques for them. This process has highlighted to me a happy thought that I have greatly enlarged my understanding of sewing, quilting, and problem solving in the studio since I retired from my government job to be a full-time fabric artist.
As well as using the right needle helps to solve thread problems, so does the little things like using a net when sewing from a cone of thread. The net keeps the thread from “pooling” at the bottom of the cone which will cause uneven feeding through the thread track and produce some tension problems.
I know that many of my readers already have a full understanding of the use of various types of needles. In the past, even though I really kind of knew what should be used, I did not take full advantage of the substantial differences using the proper needles can make. I used to just put in a universal 80/12 and use it for almost everything, changing only for specialty sewing. After I retired to my studio career, I decided to pay more attention to the needle I used. I found to my delight that it solved some of the stitching struggles I used to just power through.
Today I keep on hand an array of needle types and use them appropriately, often changing the needle several times during one project. For the most part, I use Superior titanium needles, which I believe to be the best on the market. However, I do also think Organ, Schmetz, Bernina, and Klasse needles are excellent brands.
The needle companies are doing many new things with needles now, like special needles to reduce stickiness when you are sewing through layers of fusibles, for instance.
Several of the brands have guidelines on their websites for their different needles. Here are some helpful links with a wealth of information on needles and their uses:
- Superior education page
- Schmetz all about needles page
- Klasse site (carried by Nancy’s Notions)
- Bernina needle downloadable brochure on this page
Side note: I get quality needles and don’t always use them up as I change them, so the first thing I had to do when deciding to change needle types for different threads, was to come up with a way to keep these needles for future use. I have two things that I do this with. One is a big red tomato pin cushion that I have marked around it which type of needle is in which section. I keep this by my big Bernina Q20 sitdown longarm. It uses domestic machine needles, which I like. The other method for keeping track of these partially used machine needles is my needle book I made several years ago that I have marked areas for different needles on the flannel pages in the book. I keep this with me for use wherever I need them. I even take it with me when I go to workshops, retreats, or downstairs when I need to do hand sewing. Also, I try to keep a record of what needle is in the machine. Odette has a useful built in program for doing this, but neither my little B 350 nor my Q20 have this. So I keep a notebook close by for that and other reminders along the way.
Sew if you are having problems with your thread breaking, splitting, or not stitching with an even tension, it might just be your needle. If you think your machine “doesn’t like” a particular thread, it might really just need a different needle type or size.