Ever found yourself in a flow on your sewing machine when your needle unexpectedly breaks? If you are an avid sewer or have ever sewn a tough piece of material, you’ve likely experienced this scenario. It can be so frustrating to stop what you’re doing to troubleshoot. It’s even more frustrating when you’re unsure about how to do it. Tasks like these are some of the skills you want to learn and practice if you intend to sew on a sewing machine regularly.
When I first started sewing, my mom would walk me through all of the maintenance steps at least once a week. One of those steps was checking the needle for dullness or flaws. Another reason you may need to change your needle is when you are working with tough or delicate fabrics. Tough fabrics, such as denim and leather, need a sturdier needle. When sewing with these fabrics, without the proper gauge, it will likely break. On the other hand, delicate fabrics can be irreversibly damaged by the wrong needle. If the gauge is too big the fabric may have large visible holes where the needle punctured it. The time and effort put in for maintenance are well worth the effort.
So, how do you change a needle in a sewing machine? Well, the good news is that this task is quite simple. All you need is a screwdriver and a steady hand. The latter is optional!
- A small screwdriver or the tool included with your machine.
- New or replacement needle.
Two of the primary reasons you will need to change your needle are when one breaks or if the gauge is wrong for the fabric you are working with. Either way, the following steps will guide you to quickly and easily accomplish a needle change.
Disconnect the power to your machine. You can press the power switch to do this. However, it’s safer just to remove the power cord completely.
Turn the handwheel on the side of the machine to move the needle up to its highest point.
Locate the screw that holds the needle in place. This part resembles a flathead screw and is located near the top of the needle housing. It is also called a needle clamp screw.
Grasp the needle in one hand and turn the screw to the left to loosen the needle.
Once the needle is loose enough, it will fall out of the needle clamp assembly. Carefully remove the old needle and put it aside. Properly discard any broken or dull needles.
Sewing machine needles have a flat side on the back and a slightly wider base at the top. Hold your new needle so that this end is facing up with the flat side facing back for insertion into the machine.
Push the needle up into the needle clamp assembly. Make sure that it is flush to the top.
Rotate the screw to the right and secure the needle into the machine. You can do this with your fingers initially and use the screwdriver to do a final tightening. However, be mindful not to overtighten. Overtightening can cause damage to the clamp assembly and your needle.
Now use your fingers to test the steadiness of the needle. If it wiggles, unloosen the screw and reinsert the needle. Then, retighten the screw and test again. You want the needle to feel secure without any movement between your fingers.
Turn the handwheel to make sure the needle clears the machine base properly.
Knowing your sewing machine and how to perform routine maintenance is a great way to ensure that your machine runs smoothly for years. As you just discovered, changing a needle in your machine is a very simple task that will only take a few minutes to complete. However, being prepared prior to the start of a sewing project can make the difference between a smooth and enjoyable experience or a project filled with frustration and distractions. If you liked this tutorial and found it helpful, please share or leave us a comment below.