Broken needle: best practices to prevent this from happening to you | So sew easily

A broken needle sticking into your eye is a fear shared by seamstresses around the world. It's like walking through a spider's web and not knowing whether the spider is stuck in your hair or lurking on the ground, ready to strike – but potentially much worse. Those who have suffered the consequences of a broken needle often wear eye protection in the form of safety glasses or goggles. To avoid this unfortunate incident, here are the main reasons why this happens and some best practice tips to prevent this from happening to you.

Avoid pulling the fabric

This is a mistake made mostly by seasoned sewers because they are experienced and get distracted by music, internet or television and cannot hear when the machine is complaining. The sound of the machine always tells you when it's working too hard or if something is misaligned. Pulling on the fabric will result in skipped stitches, bent or broken needle.

broken needle

Below shows the correct positioning of your hands to avoid a broken needle. The feeder located under the fabric helps the fabric move to the correct speed for the machine. Use your hands only to keep the fed fabric straight and flat under the needle, NOT to feed it through at a faster pace than the machine can handle.

avoid a broken needle correct hand position

Clean your sewing machine

Experts recommend cleaning your machine once a month. It actually depends on how often you use it and what type of fabric you use. If you use the sewing machine a lot, you may need to clean it more often.

Materials such as felt and non-woven will drop short fibers and obstruct the area below the feed plate. To better enjoy your sewing experience and extend the life of your sewing machine, clean it regularly. If you've never done it before, 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 go further, here's how to take care of your sewing machine.

Check the needle regularly

If you know the movie “The usual suspects“, then you might appreciate the comparison, at the end of the film the twisted little man, the mastermind of the whole mess, transforms into a bright, intelligent and self-confident suit. In this scenario, the needle is the unusual suspect. Before we blame that little blunt, crooked thing at the end of the rod, we blame the tension, the timing, the fabric and even the thread – when most of the time the problem can be solved by changing to a good quality needle.

Change needles often, especially after sewing thick or sequined fabrics. Use the appropriate needle and thread for the fabric you are working on.

Here's what often happens just before a broken needle:

  • You sewed a pin or zipper
  • The thread appears frayed
  • You skipped points
  • Your stitches give your project a pleated look.

A clean, well-oiled sewing machine and a good quality needle will reduce the risk of eye injury and extend the life of your sewing machine. This will also improve the creative satisfaction of your sewing while most importantly reducing the risk of eye injury.

Use a high quality sewing machine needle

One of the best sewing machine needles we've come across comes from a company in Illinois called Schmetz Needles. They have needles that fit all makes and models of sewing machines, including Brother, Singer, and Janome, to name a few.

What are your experiences with a broken needle?

Let me know in the comments section below.

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