Needles and Thread: How to pair your needle and thread for perfect stitches

Needles and Thread: How to pair your needle and thread for perfect stitches

Hello fellow sewist!
You're finally sewing, and you've got all the tools and supplies you need to keep you going. Occasionally, you'll hit a few roadblocks like breaking a needle or your thread keeps shredding.

Many sewists will immediately blame the machine, but the most likely culprit could be that the needle is the wrong size for the thread weight you are using.

Albeit, other elements could factor in undesirable stitches, which I cover more about in the Fabric Anatomy chapter and sprinkled throughout the other chapters too.
But today, let's focus on needle size and thread weight.
What is thread "weight," you say? The weight of the thread is the length measurement. Thread weight is according to how much length is needed to weigh 1 kilogram.

For example, thread weights can come in 30, 40, 50, 60, and 100 wt. The smaller the weight number, the heavier or thicker the thread is. Therefore, the least amount of length is needed to weigh a total of 1 kilogram.

If visuals give you a better understanding of things, like me, I made this info-graph to simplify it.
Thread can also be measured in other units other than weight, and they are called Denier and Tex.

Going into full detail about how they are measured can get tricky, but here are the conversion factors should you come across these units.

40 Weight = 240 Denier = Tex 25 
30 Weight = 300 Denier = Tex 33

The most common unit to measure threads is weight, as used more often by home sewists and quilters.

A general rule for needle size and thread weight coordination is that the needle eye needs to be at least 40% larger than the diameter of the thread. Any smaller, the threads tend to snap.

Here's a chart to consider:

If you notice your thread shredding, you may need to go up a needle size.

If you're unsure of your thread weight and needle size pairing (labels missing), consider taking a long strand, thread the needle (not attached to the sewing machine), and let it glide through the eye with both ends secured in your fingers, back and forth. If there is resistance, the needle size is too small for the thread.

To determine the needle size once it's out of the packet, refer to the colored bands around the shoulder of the needle. Most brands will have them color-coded.

Schmetz's are high-quality household needles that have two color bands - the top color band indicates needle type and the lower band indicates needle size.
Parts of a Sewing Machine Needle
Sewing Machine Needle Type/Size Color Code
Now that you have a better understanding of thread and needles, you are more likely to have a stress-free sewing session! 

Lastly, be sure to change to a fresh new needle for every new project you begin or every 4-8 hours of continuous sewing. Needle points tend to dull over several hours of use and are more likely to bend and break if they do not accurately pierce through the fabric and needle plate.

How do you know when the needle is dull? When your stitches start making a "popping" noise. You will become familiar with that sound the more you sew. Once you start hearing it, it's time to change your needle.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Sewing!
To easily remove a needle from the packaging, slide down the clear cover and bend the backing plastic's upper part.
For More Sewing Techniques, Tips & Tricks
Sep 19th 2023

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