Needle For Sewing Machine
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Introduction
The central feature of any sewing machine is the needle or needles. Very many needle types (systems) have been developed over time to ensure each sewing machine that uses them performs at its best.
Needle systems may be introduced for a number of reasons such as the introduction of new or specialised fabrics, new sewing machinery or even increases in machine speed.
Each needle system (needle type) will typically have between 6-8 sizes available, and in the more popular systems there can be up to 15 sizes, with each of these needles systems and sizes being available in a range of different needle points.
The following guide has been put together to help gain a better understanding of sewing machine
needles.

The basic functions of a needle 
  • To create a passage in the material for the thread to pass through
  • To carry the needle thread through the material and form a loop which can be picked up by the hook or looper 
  • mechanism
  • To pass the needle thread through the loop formed by the looper mechanism on machines other than lockstitch 
Needle parts: physical characteristics 


▶ Butt
The shaped top end which facilitates insertion into the needle bar/clamp.
▶ Shank
The thicker part of the needle held by the needle clamp or the needle set screw. It supports the needle as a whole by providing additional strength.
▶ Shoulder
The intermediate section between the shank and the blade. A needle has various parts to execute different functions during the sewing operation as follows:
▶ Blade
The needle portion extends from the shank to the eye. This is subjected to the greatest amount of friction and hence heat when it passes through the material.


▶ Long groove
It is present in one side of the needle blade for the convenience of the needle thread from the take-up device and provides a protective channel in which the thread is drawn down through the material during stitch formation.
▶ Short groove
It is formed on the other side of long groove, towards the shuttle, hook, or looper and it assists in throwing the loop of needle thread.
▶ Eye
The eye of the needle is present in the bottom end of the blade. Needle thread allowed through this eye is taken to the bottom area.
▶ Scarf (Clearance)
It is a clearance cut in the needle blade just above the eye to permit a closer setting of the shuttle, hook, or looper to the needle.
▶ Point
The point of the needle is shaped to provide the most suitable penetration of the material being sewn according to its nature and the desired stitch effect.
▶ Tip
The extreme tip shape, in combination with the point defines penetration performance.
▶ Other variants
Most needles are constructed using these features but there are a number of exceptions. Some of which may have been developed to overcome specific seaming issues or simply designed to meet the machine requirements.

Needle Identifcation 
A sewing machine needle is identified with three parameters and they are:
  • System
  • Point
  • Size
System
A needle system defines the dimensions of a needle to suit the machine type. Depending on the machine and 
its stitch type, the needle is designed with variations in length of blade, shank thickness, type of eye etc. It is 
advisable to check with the machine manufacturer for suitability of needle system to machine.
Point
A needle point is classified broadly into two types:
  • Round, set or cloth points
  • Cutting or leather points
▶ Round Point Needles
There are believed to be around twenty different round points available out of these six are in common use.

Round Point Needles - Applications:
▶ Slim Set Point also referred to as acute round point (SPI)
This point is used for dense woven fabrics as it causes less damage, helps set a straighter stitch and minimizes seam pucker. Commonly used for microfibre and densely woven fabrics, coated materials, topstitching of collars and cuffs in shirts.
▶ Set Cloth Point also referred to as normal round point (R)
This point is used for normal fabrics with standard seams as it pushes the yarn to the side.
▶ Light Ball Point (SES)
This point is used for sewing lightweight knitted fabric. It is sometimes used for fine denim and light, densely 
woven material to avoid damaging the material.
▶ Medium Ball Point (SUK)
This point is used for sewing medium weight knitted fabric. It is also used for medium to coarse denims, 
particularly sand-washed and stonewashed grades.
▶ Heavy Ball Point (SKF)
This point is used for coarse knitwear and for sewing dense woven elastic (it won’t push the elastic yarn 
through).
▶ Special ball point (SKL)
Used for medium to course elastic materials with covered elastomeric threads and very coarse knitwear.


▶ Cutting Point Needles
Cutting point needles have sharp tips like blades. These tips are available with a wide variety of cross-sectional shapes such as lens, rounded, triangular and square. They can be used while sewing dense, non-fabric based material. They pierce the material more readily than the round point types thereby generating less needle heat. There are a large number of cutting points of which around 11 are in regular use.
Needle Size / Thickness
The size of a needle is generally represented in one of two ways (although there are others). One method is by a number metric (Nm). This represents the diameter of the needle blade in hundredths of a millimetre 
measured just above the scarf but not at any reinforced part of the blade. For example, a Nm 110 needle is 1.1 millimetre in diameter, while a Nm 50 needle is half a millimetre in diameter.
The thickness of the blade on the right is 1.1mm wide which is shown in Nm as 110.
The alternative standard needle sizing method is the Singer/Asia numbering system sometimes referred to as 
the American system that uses a number that represents a size.
Below shows these Nm and Singer comparisons alongwith a number of other size references.


Determining the Right Needle for a Thread
Here’s a quick way to determine if the thread and the sewing machine needle are compatible:
  • Take half a metre of the thread being used on the machine and thread it through the eye of a loose needle
  • Hold the thread vertically with the needle at the top
▪If the needle is too big, it will drop to the bottom of the thread
▪If the needle is too small, it will stick at the top of the thread
▪If the needle is the right size, it will slowly spiral to the bottom of the thread
However, a larger-than-normal needle may have to be used to penetrate thicker fabric, or stitch over the top of pronounced or bulky seams...

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