What do you think is the most important part of your embroidery machine? Perhaps you think it's the machine or the hoop? Surprise, it’s the needle! Choosing the incorrect needle can make or break a project, not to mention may cause you tons of time with the seam ripper!
Start every new project with the correct needle – and be sure to change the needle frequently. A good rule of thumb is to change the needle when you go through 2 bobbins. If I experience thread breakage, loud noises when stitching or other issues, I always change to a new needle to see if it resolves the problem.
Embroidery needles are specially designed to handle the constant penetration as it stitches out embroidery and the needs of specialty thread. They have a larger eye and a specially designed groove to lessen friction and prevent the thread from breaking and shredding. They also have a slight ball point which slides between the existing embroidery stitches and fibers of your fabric, rather than piercing them, as a sharp needle might do.
Note: Ball point needles also work great for fabrics with a stretch, such as T-shirts.
You may use sharp sewing needles for embroidery on woven fabrics. However, you may experience shredding of your thread. If you do, try switching to an embroidery needle to see if that helps.
If you look at a pack of needles, you’ll notice there are two sizes listed. The first number is the European size followed by the American size. You’ll choose smaller size needles for fine fabrics, such as a 70/10 for light fabrics such as cotton batiste. Larger sizes are used for more dense fabrics, such as a 75/11 or 80/12 needle is perfect for a mid-weight cotton fabric. A 90/14 is used for heavier fabrics, such as canvas or denim. When it comes to needles, keep in mind that the larger the needle, the larger the hole in your fabric.
Titanium and gold embroidery needles are great for when you use adhesive stabilizers or coarse fabrics. These specialty needles allow the needle to better penetrate dense materials. These needles also last longer than standard needles.