Tuesday, August 10, 2010
If you're new to sewing, and sometimes even if you're not, selecting needles can be confusing! I've been there!
I've had a few comments, and several emails, asking what type of needles to use for what type of fabric especially when it comes to knits. I know for our first sew-a-long some of you are going to be working with knits for the first time.
I'm no expert, but I'll share with you what I know, feel free to correct me if you think it's needed!
Now, what size should you use for your project? Smaller needle sizes are for lightweight fabric and larger needle sizes are for heavier fabric. Quilting weight fabrics, often just referred to as wovens, are best sewn with needles 11, 12 or 14. You can really base what you are sewing on that and choose to size up or down if you have a lighter or heavier fabric.
What will happen if I don't use the right needle? Well, to be honest, sometimes nothing. Sometimes your project will sew up just fine. I'm a very lazy sewer at times and don't change out my needles as I sometimes should. In doing that I'm taking a risk. A risk that my machine might start skipping stitches, may make holes in my fabric, that my needle might actually break, or a whole other host of problems. That is why you should use the right needle for the job.
So, there are needle sizes in a nutshell. Now I'll give you a little summary on the different types of needles and what they are used for. I'll just talk about the main ones.
These are the needles that you should use when sewing with knits. Ballpoint needles have a rounded tip (too small to be seen by the eye), but they allow the needle to pass between the weave of the fabric without cutting it. If using a regular needle the sharpness of the tip can cause the fabric fibers to actually be cut while sewing. You may not be able to see this, but in the end your seams may come apart prematurely. A regular needle may also cause skipped stitches in knits which you will be able to see right away.
Sharp or Regular Needles
They're called sharp needles because the point is the opposite of a ballpoint and is very sharp. You want to use this type of needle for any type of woven fabric where the fabric has a tight weave. These needles will give you nice pretty stitches on wovens, where as if you use a ballpoint this can cause holes in your fabric, skipped stitches.....(pretty much the same host of problems you may get if using these needles on knits).
Just like their name they are supposed to be universal. Which means you can use them on both knit fabrics and woven fabrics. The tip is slightly rounded for knits but the body of the needle is in such a way that they work well for piercing woven fabrics (again the differences in needles are small and not noticeable really to the naked eye). Many seasoned sewers will caution against using universal needles on knit fabric saying they are more suited for wovens, but I use them quite a bit and have never had a problem.
In your sewing store you will most likely also come across needles specifically for denim, and other specialty needles. Usually by their name you will be able to figure out what their specific functions are. :)
I hope this helps some of you! I know that when I started sewing I found needle sizes especially very confusing!
Are you guys working on your submissions to the DMK contest? I've seen some wonderful entries, but we need more!
Also, make sure you are getting your knits ready for the sew-a-long next week! I'm excited, are you?
I'll hopefully see you guys with a new knit tutorial tomorrow!