With all these issues, I still love embroidery!

I love doing this blog and I love Calvin and Hobbs as well: 

Let's just say that they understand me very well! 


Needles are the challenge that keeps on giving - over and over.  Let's think of the questions possible:

·         Is it a bad needle right out of the package? 

o   Closely inspect the needle under a magnifier and good lighting.

o   Because the needle (most of them) has a flat side, place just the needle (not including the shaft) on the edge of a flat surface and roll it to see that it is straight and not damaged in any way.

·         Is it dull - how many stitches have I done?

o   Many machines have a 'counter' available.  (When was the last time you went through your manual to refresh your memory of where the counter is?)  If you don't have a counter built in, you can put an index card under the machine and put the date and an approximate number of stitches - say 33K and keep adding.  I used to change my needle around 200,000 stitches. 

o   Take into consideration the fabrics you are using as well.  If you are doing heavy denim or vinyl?  Those cut directly into the number of stitches on a needle.

o   Be sure you are buying your needles in bulk.  At a 5 pack, they are expensive.  However, if you get 100, they cost about the same as 3 -  5 packs of regular needles.  After about 15 of them, they are FREE.  Toss them!

o   Be sure to dispose of carefully, needles are not nice sometimes. . .

·         Is it sticky, gummy or have a burr on it?

o   I clean a needle that is sticky with the:

§  Oil from my hair (run thumb and first finger through your hair and on the needle.

§  Rubbing alcohol on a Q-Tip

§  Use a different adhesive, spray or self adhesive stabilizer.

§  Toss the needle.  My time is limited, how about you?

·         Did it get bent somehow?

o   A bent needle is a major accident waiting to happen.  Remove it immediately

o   Bending can be caused by the thread being too tight on the upper threading.  I actually have had a spool of thread (the ones with the slice on the bottom to hold the thread) catch and hold the thread.  It does not even matter which way the slit was facing either.

o   There is no way to press the needle back into service, bending it back will not correct the issue.

·         Why are the needle holes visible?

o   You are using too large a needle. 

o   The needle has become dull.

o   Change your needle.

·         Is the thread path correct?

o   This is a personal favorite of mine!  When your machine is working at 500 or 600 stitches per minute, it is bound to be in motion at least a little bit.  I am always careful to put my thread in the correct position, but it can and may jump just enough to make you crazy.   Furthermore, you can look at it and not see the culprit.  If I am having needle and/or thread issues, I suspect the pathway.  It only takes a few seconds, rethread.



If you are still having needle issues, check out this blog to refresh your memory about what embroidery is supposed to look like.  In addition, I am sure you have had some sort of issue which I have not noted here.  After all, if it can happen, it will.  That blog includes such items as a tension test for the various formats as well.  Testing tension should be part of your normal maintenance of your machine.





Using good tools such as needles and quality thread is the best path to results that you will be very proud to show or give. This special from Madeira is a value that anyone can use.  Getting samples of quality stabilizer is the best part.  Try before you buy.  I have tried and do like Madeira thread above all others!


I really appreciate your reading my blog and hope you find a few ideas and thoughts that help you along the way. To Teach is To Learn and I have learned so much for all of you, THANK YOU!


Best wishes to you and yours for a joyous and safe holiday season.



Comments (4) -

what a great topic... you can never know "to much" about needles. I just had major issues with needles.... it was hair pulling time. lol My needle kept breaking. No one could figure it out, even taking my machine to the repair place. We finally figured it might be the needle was a bit too small for the project and fabric combo. We used 12, then moved to 14 and it still broke..... What a nightmare!!!

I always try to read and read and read about needles.

thanks for posting.

I am stumped too.  Anyone out there have an idea?

In looking at the process shown (animated) above, you can see that the needle and bobbin are a little tight.  Did you look over your bobbin too?

Check the blog on needles (www.annthegran.com/.../...needles-july-3-2008.aspx">www.annthegran.com/.../...needles-july-3-2008.aspx) for tension testing.

I know that most technicians, who are very sensitive to tension, test by the feel.  Try the tension test and see if there is  a clue there.

One never knows where we will find an answer and we must explore all possible ideas.

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer


That is very good advice.  I would like to add one more idea.  We need to discard old needles safely so that they do not pierce our garbage bags or hurt anyone handling the garbage.  Old medicine or vitamin bottles are just perfect for holding old and broken needles.  The vitamin bottles with a flip-top opening in the lid are especially handy.  When it's full, just recycle and start filling a new one.

For cme's issue, is it possible the thread is getting caught on a rough spot or slit in the spool, or does it wrap around the spindle and pull on the needle?


Thank you for your comments. I started the project over, new fabric, new batting, new needle. (again) I think it was the design combined with the fabric. I was doing the snowman by Dakota that was featured here. I was making my grandson a Christmas stocking. I used pre-quilted fabric and flannel for the inserts. Restart. Flannel for all. Slowed the machine down to about 300 and DID NOT LEAVE..lol Needle broke once. I skipped that spot, filled in with red sharpie. (the scarf area) done! whew.. what a challenge. Again.. thank you

@ Carol: we did check the thread, the spool etc. Nothing there.

@ Pat: we tested the tension also. I know the technician wanted to resolve this also as he was not getting paid again for an issue that was recurring.

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