How to Change a Sewing Machine Needle

Jean Chaney
Jean Chaney
Research Writer
Jean is the brains behind her fashion label. She's a whiz with a needle and thread, and has been sewing since she was old enough to hold a pair of scissors. Jean has always read more
Reviewed By
Isabel Misner
Isabel Misner
Expert Consultant
A professional seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step read more
Last updated: August 21, 2023
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Fun fact, the most popular suggestion for sewing problems is to change the sewing machine needle. Any seasoned sewist knows the essence of changing a sewing machine needle often. As a beginner, when and how to change a sewing machine needle are crucial sewing hacks. An unchanged needle is a compromised needle, and it can wreak havoc on your stitch quality.

Some of the common issues you are likely to experience because of an unchanged needle include large punctures in the fabric, uneven stitches, popping sound, and thread breaking during stitching. A regular needle change can fix all these problems. Experts suggest using a new needle for every new project or special materials that have distinguished needs. The frequency with which you change the needle also depends on how often you sew. Moreover, to get the most out your needles, you must know how to choose the right sewing machine needles Trusted Source How to Choose the Right Sewing Machine Needle - Threads How to choose the right needle for your sewing machine can be challenging. Learn to pick the best one for your machine, fabric, and thread. for different projects.

When should you change the needle on your sewing machine?

You will need to change your needles on several occasions. The most obvious indication is when you can see that your needle is broken, bent or dull. The needle can also get nicked if you sew on a straight pin. A needle in any of these conditions will compromise the quality of your work detrimentally.

Changing to a new project or different fabric also calls for a needle replacement. This is because the project might involve a different sewing style and a significant change in the weight of thread that the old needle cannot handle. Plus, different fabrics have different needle needs. You can’t use the same needle you used to sew woven fabric with leather.

Tools you are going to need

How to Change a Sewing Machine Needle

To remove and replace your old needle, you need a few nifty tools. The first obvious one being a new needle. There are numerous options on the market, but to be safe, go for a general-purpose model that comes in assorted sizes. The Schmets Universal Sewing Machine needles is one such model that comes highly recommended by experts.

The other tools that you might need are the clearance plate or a needle inserter and threader. You could use your hand or either of the tools to change your sewing machine needle. Some machines like the SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 come with the needle inserter and threader while others don’t.

How to change a sewing machine needle

Before you change the needle, you must establish the exact type of needle that is used on your machine. The needles used on an industrial machine are somehow different from ones used on a regular machine. Some sewing machines have needle changing instructions in their user manual but for those that don’t have, here are the basic steps.

Step 1

Remove the old sewing machine needle. Turn off the sewing machine if it’s on, then loosen the needle clamp screw. You can also remove the presser foot for added convenience. Hold the needle with your left hand as you twist the needle clamp screw counterclockwise. If you can’t use your hands, use a flat screwdriver.

Step 2

You don’t have to loosen the clamp completely, just enough to allow you to pull out the needle. Pull the needle downwards and out of the needle bar at an angle.

Step 3

How to Change a Sewing Machine Needle

Insert the new needle, and you can use either your hands, a needle inserter and threader or a clearance plate. You need to push the needle upwards until its but hits the top. Ensure the needle’s flat part is facing the back.

Step 4

In case you are using an industrial machine, ensure the needle’s scarf is on the same side as the machine’s hook assembly.

Step 5

Tighten the screw clamp clockwise.

Final thoughts

With all the pro tips we have provided, you can’t get lost when changing your sewing machine’s needle whether you are a beginner or an intermediate sewist. The process is quite similar for virtually all modern sewing machines. If you learn how to change a needle on a Bernina sewing machine, that’s pretty much what you ought to do when you get a Brother or a SINGER.

If you intend to use your machine regularly, then it is recommended that you change the needles often, at least every time you swap projects or fabrics. If your hand just doesn’t do much in getting the needle correctly oriented during a replacement, be sure to get a clearance plate or a needle inserter threader. Either of the tools will make your work a tad easier.


How to Choose the Right Sewing Machine Needle - Threads
How to choose the right needle for your sewing machine can be challenging. Learn to pick the best one for your machine, fabric, and thread.
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