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Your sewing machine is the primarily tool required to complete stitching projects, and it’ll usually come with everything you need to get started – depending on the machine you buy. But if you're looking to work with different fabrics and techniques, there are some other sewing machine accessories you should think about purchasing!
If you love dabbling with different types of fabric and threads when you sew and want to transfer this passion over to a sewing machine, you must consider which specialist needles you'll need to use. Using the correct needles for your projects prevents all sorts of stitching disasters, so we want to help you make the right decision! The first thing to consider is this: what types of sewing machine needles are there, and how could they benefit your sewing projects?
Instead of piercing fabrics, Ballpoint Needles have a slightly more rounded point than Universal Needles so will pass between the fabric threads. They are perfect for materials that snag easily, such as spandex and knitwear.
Denim Needles have a thick, strong shank with an extremely sharp point to resist breaking. They can be used to stitch many layers of fabric at once or tightly-woven fabric like denim and canvas.
The large needle eye and specially designed scarf help protect the thread when stitching dense designs at a fast pace. Perfect for use with most fabrics, you should use Embroidery Needles with rayon and speciality threads to ensure they don't shred when stitching.
The needle shaft has a 'wing' on both sides in order to produce a pretty, decorative hole. Perfect for tightly-woven fabric like batiste and linen, Hemstitch Needles should be used for hemstitching and heirloom stitching.
With a much larger needle eye than Embroidery Needles, Metallic Needles allow you to stitch with heavier, metallic thread. Their large groove and special scarf guard delicate threads to stop them from shredding when stitching.
Microtex/Sharps Needles have a very sharp point with a narrower shaft, so are especially ideal for straight stitching and topstitching. Microfibres, silk and lightweight suede are some examples of smooth, finely woven fabrics that work well with these needles.
Sharp needles that come in a variety of sizes, Overlock Needles are only for use in Overlocker Machines and will sew through multiple types of fabric.
Designed specifically for quilting, Quilting Needles have a sharp, tapered point and can stitch through multiple layers of fabric at once.
Stretch Needles have a deep scarf to allow the bobbin hook to get closer to the needle eye. This prevents skipped stitches on elasticated, lightweight knits such as spandex and synthetic suede.
With an extra-sharp point, an extra-large needle eye and a large groove, Topstitch Needles are perfect for heavy top-stitching thread or stitching with two strands of regular thread at once. They can be used on a variety of fabrics for straight stitching with heavy thread.
These special construction needles have two needle shafts on a crossbar, protruding from one shank. In basic terms, you'll be stitching two parallel rows at once with two needles instead of a single row with just one. Twin Needles are available in many forms – for example, you could buy Universal…
These popular general-purpose needles are a good all-round type and size, with a slightly rounded point. Universal Needles are especially effective for use with woven and knitted fabrics in a range of weights, depending on the needle size.
As well as deciding which types of sewing machine needle to use, it's also important to choose the correct needle size for your fabric weight. Generally, needle sizes will show as two numbers – the first number is the European size and the second number is the American size. The European size refers to the diameter of the needle in fractions of a millimetre.
For Twin Needles, however, the first number will appear as the distance between the needles in millimetres, while second number is the European needle size.
Here's a handy chart explaining which single sewing machine needle size is best for which fabric weight.
Sheer Lightweight Fabrics
Medium Weight Fabrics
e.g: Silk or Cotton
e.g: Linen or Velvet
Very Heavyweight Fabrics
e,g: Denim or Canvas
e,g: Leather or Suede
There are many different types of sewing machine feet available on the market, but what are they all actually used for? We've devised a little guide of common sewing machine feet, hoping to help make choosing the right ones for use with specific fabrics and techniques that little bit easier.
The Adjustable Guide Foot is very similar to the Quarter Inch Foot, but is far more adjustable. Allowing you to use multiple needle positions (such as zigzag), this foot is used as a seam allowance guide for accuracy in stitching – however it doesn't allow for very small seam allowances.
Usually clear or open-toed to see where you're going, the Appliqué Foot is used for easy manoeuvring when sewing appliqué pieces.
The Big/Quilting Foot is used in free-motion embroidery and, because of its size, gives you the freedom to move your fabric exactly as you please.
The Binder Foot comes with a funnel guide for binding edges with a specific size bias binding, depending on the specification of the foot. Used with lightweight fabric, it can sew with a straight, zigzag or decorative stitch.
Most machines come with various buttonhole capabilities but if not, the Buttonhole Foot aids you in forming buttonholes in clothing. Instructions will always accompany this foot.
Perfect for creating neat and consistent stitch patterns, the Embroidery/Darning Foot allows you to embroider beautiful finishes and embellishments onto your fabric.
Often used in clothing to hide zips, the Invisible Zipper Foot does a similar job to the Zipper Foot, but instead conceals the zip's teeth. It gently glides over the teeth to push them either side of the roller.
The Jean-A-Ma-Jig Foot helps you to hem your jeans in a professional, accurate way. Perfect for denim and heavier materials, it helps to protect your needles and thread while stitching.
Neatly create corded piping for your home décor projects with the impressive Piping Foot. Providing accurate placement of piping into seams and edges, expect a tailored finish every time.
This is the standard foot that comes with most sewing machines. The Presser Foot holds your fabric in place, preventing movement, with an even pressure. Quite a universal foot, it's used for both straight stitching and zigzag stitching.
This handy little Quarter Inch Foot allows you to achieve a precise quarter inch seam allowance on your fabric, without having to draw it on manually. It even has red markers on it to indicate which point you need to stop sewing when approaching a corner!
When sewing two layers of fabric together, the Walking Foot ensures that both bits of fabric are fed through the machine at the same rate. This means that you won't end up with one piece of fabric longer than the other – they will be perfectly aligned.
The Zipper Foot is primarily used to insert zips into fabric, however can also install cording or piping into cushions. It allows you to sew closely alongside a bulky material and requires extremely careful use of fingers.
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