New Needles for the New Year

Needles don’t last forever. (Well, except the ones that fall off the Christmas tree. It seems we are still vacuuming up those little buggers in July!)

How long has the needle been in your sewing machine?
Did it come with the machine? Do you just keep using the same one until you run over a pin and it breaks? Or until things just keep going horribly wrong with your stitches and you start swapping out everything – needles, thread, bobbin?

Broken NeedlesImage: Broken Needles by amboo who?

Your sewing projects will look better and go more smoothly if you use a new needle after 8-12 hours of sewing or every 2-3 projects. And if you hit a pin, button, or other object while sewing, replace that needle right away, even if it looks okay. A damaged or worn out needle leads to damaged fabric and a ruined project. You’re putting a lot of time into your sewing, don’t let the needle foil your efforts.

Why don’t we change needles when we should?
Reason #1: Keeping track of how long a needle has been used is not easy!
Since I use both my sewing machine and my serger for most projects, 2-3 projects doesn’t equate to 8-12 hours use on both machines. This is my current solution:
Not pretty, but functional. The tomato is split so each column has five sections. Each time I finish a project or use the needle for about two hours, I put the needle in the next spot. The pins are marked and hold the spot for the needles currently in use. If I finish the project and need the needle for something else in the same machine, I’ll just move the pin to the next spot. The blue pins in the #5 spot for the 90/14 ball point needles are holding the space for the needles currently in my serger. When I’m done with them, I’ll retire that set of needles since this is their fifth use. When they’re done, I put them in an old prescription pill container.
old needles

The blue pins each have an “I” written on them in permanent marker because they are placeholders for the needles in my Imagine serger. The sewing machine pin has a “B” on it for Bernina. And so on…
machine needle placeholders

There are a couple things that make this setup work well, besides the ability to keep track of length of use. First, I know which needles are sharps and which are ball points. Second, I don’t have to try to read the itty bitty writing on them to see what size they are. But, it’s not pretty.

Reason #2: Needles are expensive!
My favorite place to buy needles is because their prices are great and they offer free shipping on needles. My sewing machine, a Bernina uses 15×1/HAx1 household machine needles. currently has these for $11.95 for 100 needles in some of the most common sizes. Yep, less than twelve cents a needle. The cost of needles is no longer an excuse not to change them.

But 100 needles? Where do you put them? I happened upon this cute little storage box in the craft section. It was probably intended for beads or something similar, but it’s the perfect size for needle packs. Needle packs are small, if I tossed them in a drawer, they would be all over and I’d be opening a new pack all the time. This keeps them organized.

needle storage

Do you have a great way to keep track of your needle use? I’d love to see it, especially if it looks nicer than my sharpie tomato!

Happy Sewing!

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