A broken needle flying into the eye is a fear that seamstresses share all over the world. Something like walking into a spider web and not knowing whether the spider is stuck on your hair or lurking on the floor ready to strike –but potentially much, much worse. Those that have experienced the consequences of a broken needle often wear eye protection in the form of safety goggles or spectacles. To avoid this unfortunate incident, here are the main reasons why this happens and some best practice tips to prevent it from happening to you.
Avoid pulling the fabric
This is a mistake made mostly by seasoned home sewers because they are experienced and get distracted by music, internet, or tv and cannot hear when the machine complains. The sound of the machine always tells you when it is working too hard or something is misaligned. Pulling the fabric will result in skipping stitches, a bent, or a broken needle.
Below shows the correct positioning of your hands to avoid a broken needle. The feeder underneath the fabric is helping the fabric pass at the correct speed for the machine. Use your hands only to keep the fabric feeding straight and flat under the needle NOT to pull it through at a pace faster than the machine can handle.
Clean your sewing machine
Experts recommend that you clean your machine once a month. In fact, it depends on how often you use it and the type of fabric you are using. If you use the sewing machine a lot, you may have to clean it more often.
Materials such as felt and fleece will drop short fibers and clog the area under the feeding plate. For better enjoyment of your sewing experience and to prolong the life of your sewing machine clean it regularly. If you have never done it before, please watch one of our videos below on how to clean a sewing machine where Deby explains in detail how to do it.
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If you want to take it one step further, here's how to really Pamper Your Sewing Machine.
Check the needle regularly
If you are familiar with the movie “The Usual Suspects“, then you may appreciate the comparison, at the end of the movie the small crooked man, the mastermind of all the mess, turns into the smart, self-confident shiny suit. In this scenario, the needle is the unusual suspect. Before we blame that blunt and bent little thing at the end of the shaft, we blame the tension, the timing, the fabric, and even the thread –when most of the time the problem can be rectified by changing to a good quality needle.
Change your needle often especially after sewing thick or sequined fabrics. Use the appropriate needle and thread for the fabric you are working on.
Here is what often happens just before a broken needle:
- You have sewn over a pin or zipper
- The thread looks frayed
- You have skipped stitches
- Your stitches give your project a puckered appearance.
A clean and well-oiled sewing machine and a good quality needle will decrease the chances of injuring your eye and prolong the life of your sewing machine. It will also improve the creative satisfaction of your sewing while most importantly reducing the chances of injuring your eye.
Use a high-quality sewing machine needle
One of the best overall sewing machine needles we've come across is from a company in Illinois called Schmetz Needles. They have needles that fit any make and model of sewing machine including Brother, Singer, and Janome just to name a few.
What are your experiences with a broken needle?
Let me know in the comments section below.