Archive for the ‘Needles’ Category

Binding Tips

Friday, March 10th, 2017

I was putting the binding on a quilt the other day and thought of a couple of tips to pass along to make it a little easier!

Binding Tip #1

Once you’ve attached your binding to the quilt by machine, the next step is to flip it to the back and hand stitch it down (unless you do it all by machine but that’s another blog post!) Take a few moments and press the binding in the correct direction first. It’s kind of like pressing a seam to one side, pressing the binding away from the quilt top. It will make it much easier to flip around to the back during the hand stitching part. You will also get a more uniform appearance on the front of the quilt.

Press Your Binding

Binding Tip #2

Save all the extra binding pieces. I put all mine in a big glass jar. That way they’re a pretty decoration until I’m in need of a scrappy binding. Sew ’em all together and it’s like free fabric!

Binding Collection

Binding Tip #3

Start the hand sewing portion with a new needle. Just like machine needles, hand needles don’t last forever. They can bend, get burrs and get their points worn down from use. The price of an individual needle is not all that much, get a new one. My favorite for doing binding work is the John James Milliners needles. They are long and thin and I can get a good bit of stitches on before having to pull up the thread. The less I have to pull up the thread, the less it may tangle. The come in various sizes and also have the option of the Gold ‘n Glide coating. I love Gold ‘n Glide! The needles are dipped in a magic solution that makes it glide through the fabric with ease. The eye is also dipped in gold to make it easier to see. Seriously, who are they kidding…I still can’t see it…a needle threader is a must!

John James Milliners

Do you have a binding tip that you can share?

Free Needle Info For Quilters

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Do you use different needles for different sewing tasks? Do you date your needles as “1997” and you’re still using it? Do you know what size needle to use and why? These questions are near and dear to my heart. I’m always amazed at the obscene amount of money quilters will spend on machines, fabric, patterns, thread, etc…yet they won’t fork over less than a dollar for a new needle. Let’s see if we can’t change some bad habits…suffer through, there will be a give away at the end!

Embroidery 5PK

Different needles for different tasks:

I know there are more than a few of you out there that will put a needle in the machine and just leave it in there until it dies. You will use that needle for every different kind of sewing you do. Let me ask you…do you use one knife in the kitchen for all your different cutting tasks? Of course not, I’m sure you have several knives. Think about it…would you cut a tomato with that big cleaver or carve the turkey with a paring knife? Oh sure, both jobs would get done but wouldn’t it be easier if you had the correct knife? The same holds true for machine needles. Each different type of needle is designed to do a specific task very well. The different anatomical parts of the needle are made to perform their task with ease. Most of them are pretty self explanatory: Embroidery needles for machine embroidery, quilting for quilting, topstitch for stitching on top (embellishment). The ones that confuse people the most are the microtex/sharp needles and the universals. Microtex have a very pointy point and they pierce the fabric very well. I recommend these for piecing, especially with batiks because of their higher thread count. Universals are not meant to do any ONE task well but to do an okie dokie job at most tasks.  They are less expensive than the other needles so people usually grab those.  The other types of needles are not really that much more. The most popular needle I sell (beside universals) are only $.88 per needle while universals are $.57 each. Are you really going to carve your turkey with a paring knife to save $.31?

Image result for image needle closeup

Change your needles!

Needles can get nicks and burrs which are unseen but WILL affect their performance. Don’t wait until they break to change them. If your machine manual does not have a recommendation for how often to change your needle you can assume the time honored “every 8 sewing hours” or “every major project”. If you are having problems but can’t figure out why, change your needle.


What size needle to use?

Needles come in different sizes for a reason. You need to pair the needle size with the thread size you’re using and the type of sewing you’re doing. Yes, thread comes in different sizes, you should know what you’re using. I wish there was a magical chart that would tell you what needle to use when. Sadly, there is not. Think of it as matching a drill bit size (the needle) to the screw (the thread) you’re making a hole for. If it’s too big the screw will slosh around in the hole. Too small and the screw will be too tight and bunch up the wood (your quilt).

schmetz color code

I’ve taken the needle out of the package…I don’t know what kind/size it is…

It used to be that once the needle was out of the package, good luck figuring out what kind or size it is. Oh sure, it’s stamped but good luck reading it. Schmetz heard our cries and they have now marked all their needles with two colored stripes. The top stripe denotes which type of needle it is and the bottom stripe denotes what size. They even made this handy chart to help you remember.


What about that give away you mentioned?

OK, you’ve suffered enough. If you want to learn more then you need to have your guild contact me to book my presentation “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Needles…but were too afraid to ask…”. Contrary to the dry sounding name, it’s a fun presentation and you may just learn something new. This presentation ALWAYS generates the most questions from the audience!


For everyone else…all orders until 12-31-15 will get a free Schmetz Color Coding Chart printed on card stock, perfect to hang out next to your machine. The first 10 orders will also receive a needle pocket guide. You could also print out the photo above but it won’t be as nice as the one I send you!

Needle Storage

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

We all know that we should use different needles for different sewing tasks. (blatant commercial…if you don’t know this then you should have your guild let me stop in and tell you all about why…I love to travel…end of commercial). How do you store those needles in between uses? You don’t really want to put them back into their original containers because then you can’t tell which ones are new and which ones are used…and which needle is currently in the machine anyway???? Are these the questions that keep you awake at night? If so, you really need to get some fabric fondling therapy…but we can offer a solution in the meantime.


We have a new product available called My Pad. It’s a foam pad imprinted with the various styles and sizes of needles. Every needle has a spot. There is even a flowerhead pin to mark which needle is currently in the machine. This pad is made in the USA and measures approximately 6.75″ square. The suggested retail price is $11.98 but our price is only $10.29. It can be found here, in the Needle Accessories section.


Is this too pricey for you? Do you prefer the DIY approach to such matters? How about this needle storage solution then…


Take an ordinary tomato pincushion (new or used, doesn’t matter) and label the green leaves with the variety of needles you use. Write the size of needles you use down each section. I would suggest using a permanent pen for this. Insert a flowerhead or fancy pin to mark which needle is in the machine. Viola – customized needle storage at it’s finest! We can supply you with tomato pincushions if you’re lacking…they’re just $1.39 and can be found here in the Needle Accessories section.


I need needle help!

Monday, October 1st, 2012

I am updating my handout on sewing machine needles and need your help. What information about needles have you always wanted to know but were afraid to ask? Burning questions keeping you awake at night? Nagging rumors you want to know if they’re true or not? Now is your chance to find the answers! If you’re too shy to respond here, feel free to email me directly. I won’t tell…