The sewing machine needle may seem insignificant when compared to the rest of your sewing machine however the needle is actually one of the most important parts of your machine. Use an incorrect needle and your stitches will not form correctly while using a dull or bent needle will risk damaging your machine, fabric, and thread. Read on to discover how the shape of your needle is instrumental in creating stitches………
The Parts of the Needle:
The Butt – the bevelled edge at the top of the needle which is inserted into the sewing machine needle holder.
The Shank – normally semi-circular in shape, this is the part of the needle that fits into your sewing machine needle holder. The shank is wider than the rest of the needle and works as a support for the needle. When inserting the needle into the machine, the flat side of the needle faces away from you (i.e. towards the back of the machine). Quite often, the make and the size of the needle will be written here.
The Shoulder – the section between the shank and the blade. When the needle penetrates through the fabric to reach its lowest position the shoulder also penetrates through the fabric. This increases the size of the hole in the fabric so that there will be less friction between the fabric and the needle.
The Shaft / Blade – the longest portion of the needle running from the shank to the eye. The blade is gradually tapered to the tip. The needle size is determined by the diameter (width) of the blade.
The Long Groove – the groove in the needle from the shoulder to the needle eye. The thread remains in this slot when the needle penetrates the fabric and goes up and down. This reduces the friction between the needle, fabric and thread.
The Short Groove – the short groove is the slot on the side of the needle running from the needle eye to the tip. The short grove is located on the same side as the bobbin hook or looper. The short groove helps to form the loop of the thread.
The Eye – the needle eye is the hole at the tip of the needle between the short and long groves through which the sewing thread passes. The needle eye holds the thread and helps to make the loop whilst also protecting the thread from damage during sewing.
The Scarf – the scarf is a curved slot or indentation just above the needle eye. The scarf allows more room for the bobbin hook or shuttle to pass by. This enables the bobbin hook to smoothly grab the thread thereby creating a better stitch. The size of the scarf varies with different needle types.
The Point – the point of the needle is the part from the needle eye to the tip. The point helps the needle to penetrate into the fabric in such a way as to ensure no damage to the fabric. The size of the point will vary dependent on the type of needle you have selected and should be appropriate to the fabric being sewn.
The Tip – the tip is the extreme end of the needle. The tip helps the needle to penetrate the fabric by parting the threads or creating the holes in the fabric during sewing.
So the next time you get your sewing machine out, take a minute to have a close look at your needle and marvel at the amount of engineering goes that little piece of steel!