5 Tips to Avoid Breaking Needles While You Sew

Don’t you just hate when the needle breaks on your sewing machine? I always worry it is going to snap off and hit me in the eye. I’m sure you can imagine how serious that could be… Luckily, there are some strategies you can follow to avoid breaking your needle while you sew. Check out the following five tips.

  1. Use the Correct Needle for Your Project

Did you know you’re supposed to change the needle on your sewing machine whenever you start a new project? I’m usually too lazy to do that, but the needle is more likely to break if it is dull. This is because blunt or dull needles have a difficult time piercing through multiple layers of fabric and they can jam and break off.

There are all sorts of different sewing machine needles for different weights of fabric and thread. If you use the correct needle, it’s less likely to break. If the needle is too long, it can hit the bobbin case and break. If the needle is too short, it might not go deep enough into your sewing machine to interlock with the bobbin thread.

A universal needle will work in most cases, but you should also have ballpoint needles on hand for sewing knits and heavy-duty needles for sewing through leather and thick fabric like denim and corduroy. Most sewing machines do not require brand-specific needles but check your user manual just to be sure.

  1. Check Your Needle Alignment When Using a New Presser Foot

I think the most common reason sewing machine needles break is that people forget to check the alignment of the needle after attaching a new presser foot, especially the zipper foot. Your sewing machine has three needle positions: left, right, and center. Most presser foots use the center needle position, but not all of them. When you start to sew, the needle might hit the presser foot and break. Always check to make sure this will not happen before you start to sew.

When you’re attaching a new needle or presser foot, ensure the screws are tight. If your presser foot falls off while you sew, the needle can hit it and break. Also, if your needle is not inserted all the way up in the needle bar, it can hit the bobbin case and break.

  1. Keep Your Sewing Machine Clean

Lint builds up in the bobbin case as you sew. Eventually, all that lint can get in the way of your needle and cause it to bend or break. That’s why it’s important to clean the lint out of your sewing machine on a regular basis. The more you sew, the more often your sewing machine needs to be cleaned. We recommend using a small vacuum, instead of compressed air, to avoid pushing the lint deeper into your machine. Refer to your user manual for instructions on how to remove and clean the bobbin housing on your sewing machine.

  1. Don’t Pull on the Fabric While You Sew

The feed dogs on your sewing machine are designed to pull your fabric through your machine evenly. If you pull on your fabric while you sew, the stitches will not look right. Plus, you might make the fabric too tight and the needle could jam on the fabric and break.

When you pull on your fabric, you also create a rubber band effect that could shoot the needle right into your eye if it breaks. That danger alone should be enough to stop you from pulling on your fabric as you sew. If you feel like you need to pull your fabric through your machine because it is too thick, slow down and use a lot of caution.

  1. Avoid Sewing Over Pins

Everyone knows pinning will help your finished project look better, but you should remove the pins as you sew. When you sew over pins, the needle can hit them and bend or break. Place them in your fabric perpendicular to the seam so they are easy to pull out just before they go under the presser foot. Be sure to also keep the heads of pins away from the stitching line so that your needle doesn’t break if you accidentally forget to remove a pin.

Sewing is dangerous! Follow the tips in this article to avoid an eye injury from your needle breaking as you sew. If you’re following all the tips in this article and you still can’t figure out why your needle keeps breaking, check out our troubleshooting guide.

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