About that needle…There’s an app for that!

I have always known that the needle in my sewing machine needed to be changed regularly, but the truth is, I’m not very good about it. I was taught that you should replace it at the end of every good-sized project. Honestly, I rarely replace my needle until I hear it going “ki-tick, ki-tick,” and not before. Sometimes I’ll actually notice that my stitches aren’t straight and smooth and I’ll remember to check, but usually not Okay, sometimes occasionally I change it sooner. Here’s why: As a rule, I don’t sew over pins, but sometimes I play a little game of chicken with myself to see how close I can get to the pin before I pull it out. Ahem. Sometimes I lose. Case in point:

Broken needle, (c) 2015, Lori East
Pins 2, Needles 0

Basically, when sewing cotton fabric with good-quality thread in a well-maintained machine, you need to replace your needle after every eight hours of sewing. Eight hours! So if you spend all day sewing, you need to pull that little thing out and put in a new one before you quit for the day. Yeah, really.

It probably goes without saying that if you’re sewing flannel or felt (ick, flannel and felt make such a mess under the “hood” of the machine!) you’ll need to change it even sooner.

I was looking around at Schmetz the other day and learned all sorts of interesting things. I am partial to their brand of needles, and always use a size 70 Sharp (Microtex) for piecing (along with Aurifil 50-weight thread). I recognize the Sharps at a glance because of the little purple band around the top of the needle shaft.

Yes, my scissors are red!

Did you know those stripes were there? Do you know what they mean? Take a look here:

Schmetz Needle Color Coding Chart
Schmetz Needle Color Coding Chart

The Schmetz site contains a wealth of information about all kinds of needles for all kinds of sewing machines. How about that? There’s a page for helping you troubleshoot any problems you might have, and even a bit about the history of sewing needles. There is even an app for iPhone users. Who knew?

Hope on over and see if you learn a thing or two. And don’t forget to change your needle.