Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Needle--Does it make a difference?

    This weekend we had a workshop at our Runamok Modern Quilt Guild meeting. We were trying an improv technique and I brought my machine for a group to use. It was quite an interesting hour! I sew beautifully on my Bernina usually. It had a brand new needle in it and right off the bat the needle broke (my fault, I forgot to switch the needle back to the center after doing piping). The only spare needle in the room was a Schmetz universal size 80. That's the needle almost everyone uses and I put it in. (My usual needle is a Schmetz Jean size 80). The first person who sat at the machine was sewing really crooked. I'm thinking "wow, she does not sew very well". The next person was even more crooked, the stitches were different lengths, and she was freaked out because the machine was too fast. ( I slowed it down for her, but she was still freaking out). Stitches were different lengths and crooked. So I sat down and sewed and it was really strange. The machine was not acting like my machine at all. It almost felt like the fabric was swimming around under the presser foot. When I got home I realized I had broken  my last jeans 80 needle and all I had was a 70 which is good for piecing but not really heavy enough for machine quilting. I put it in to continue with the project and MAGIC it was back to normal!
     I had taken a workshop at one time that taught about different needles and what they are best for. My take-away was the knowledge that a jeans needle is awesome!
     There are a lot of different needles out there for different uses. The difference is the way they pierce the fabrics and it makes a difference in how the seam appears. A jeans needle is very sharp and pierces straight down plowing through everything, making a straight seam. A ball point has a rounded tip, which keeps the needle from snagging the knit or making a hole. A universal is in between. A ballpoint or universal tries to slip between the fibers, rather than piercing, so the seam is less straight.
Our group's improve section--not really my thing
but I'm sure the whole thing will be interesting
These are the ones in my collection and what they are used for:
     Universal: general sewing, mending, garments, wovens
      Jeans; piecing and quilting
      Quilting-also sharp and recommended for quilting
      Ball Point: knits
      Embroidery: using specialty threads
      Microtex: precise topstitching
This is a good site to compare needles

It is probably a good time to remind people that needles get dull quickly, so as soon as you feel it snagging or acting dull--change it! After this experience I will never piece with anything but a jeans or quilting needle again!

Now really--we're quilters! This seam was done
during the meeting. The seams at the top were
done by me at home.

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