gunfighter48

Sewing Machine Needle Systems Question

28 posts in this topic

I have a cylinder bed machine that uses the system 328 needles and it sews my heavy leather just fine. I am thinking about getting a flat bed machine for doing notebook covers, leather pistol and revolver bags with zippered closures, light weight leather items (8 oz down to 3 - 4 oz leather). I have found a number of machines that look like they will do the job and most of them use DPX17, 135 X 17, 16 X 231, DBX1 needle systems. Will the needles these machines use be strong enough to handle 8 oz and smaller veg tanned leather?

Thanks for you advice.

John

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Of the systems listed, DPx17 would be the most suitable at the heavier end, any of the others for the lighter stuff. 135x17 and DBx1 are basically the same and are very common. You want to cast the decision toward where most of the work will be, though, because needle availability in the various leather point types will be a factor. You can get very small leather needles (say 9 or 10) in DBx1, for example, but not in DPx17, where, conversely they are available up to a 23 or so. Personally, I'd get a few needles at both ends of the range I wanted to use first, then sew one of the machines off with some samples using my own threads.

Bill

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DPx17 and 135x17 are essentially the same system, DPx1 and 135x1 are also about the same.

135x17 is a size often used for fabric/canvas etc and usually needle points are for fabric. 135x16 is available in various leather points. 135x16 interchanges with 135x17 but sometimes timing can be different, usually not enough to make a difference so lets say they interchange.

There are many machines out there in 135x17/16 needle systems and they are excellent for the purposes you intended. This system is popular on new as well as older machines.

If you see a 190 needle system, this is what Pfaff uses, like I have said before, nothing fits a Pfaff but Pfaff. This is also a medium duty system and would be excellent for your needs.

I hope this clears things up.

Art

I have a cylinder bed machine that uses the system 328 needles and it sews my heavy leather just fine. I am thinking about getting a flat bed machine for doing notebook covers, leather pistol and revolver bags with zippered closures, light weight leather items (8 oz down to 3 - 4 oz leather). I have found a number of machines that look like they will do the job and most of them use DPX17, 135 X 17, 16 X 231, DBX1 needle systems. Will the needles these machines use be strong enough to handle 8 oz and smaller veg tanned leather?

Thanks for you advice.

John

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This isn't exactly what you are going for but I wanted to add that I made a flatbed extention to add to my cylender mechine for doing the kind of projects you are talking about. Though it is still limited at doing fine stiching, it does give me the option to do more jobs on my big stitcher by changing to smaller needle and thread. Comes in handy for other big jobs to like saddle bags, saddle pads, skirts, whatever I want to sew on a flat surface. Cheers,GH

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Hey Gunfighter,

Just a small point (excuse the pun) about those needles. Everything I am referring to below follows the Schmetz system of classification.

135 X 17 is a Fabric Point Needle. The system 135 x 16 TRI is the same size needle but the point is for leather. A 135 x 16 TRI has the same Diamond Shaped Point as the 794D system that is used in the Heavier Stitchers like the Toro 3000, etc.

I would suggest you try the 135 x 16 TRI point needles for most of your leather work. For very light leathers, like deerskin, stick with the 135 x 17 as the leather point needles would create too large a hole for proper stitching.

Artisan carries these Schmetz needles in stock - as do many other Industrial Sewing Supply outlets.

I hope this helps.

Dave

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DPx17 and 135x17 are essentially the same system ...

You're correct, my error.

Bill

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Hi Bill,

They're still trying ever so hard to get us (US) to go metric. They've almost done it with size, I still think in Singer and order in metric. Damned foreigners. Artisan has SAE screws in their big machines, but the medium machines (797, 618) are all metric. Course if I had it my way they would be still be using the Whitworth system (remember the MGA and Bugeye Sprite, and the 3000 Healey?).

Art

You're correct, my error.

Bill

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Damned foreigners or not.... I honestly think we should go metric on everything and loose the SAE system..... one universal measuring system like they intend to do with the universal money....

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They're still trying ever so hard to get us (US) to go metric. They've almost done it with size, I still think in Singer and order in metric.

... Course if I had it my way they would be still be using the Whitworth system (remember the MGA and Bugeye Sprite, and the 3000 Healey?).

Metric needle size at least makes sense in that it IS a size (nanometers), unlike Singer, which is an arbitrary system and whose numbers look the same as a lot of other sizing schemes. I'm almost there with metric, I just have to force myself to think of the metric size first.

I don't see the needle system issue going away though. I like to reference back to CANU, as it's the closest to a cross-reference available for compatible systems, plus the point designations are consistent. But it still doesn't REALLY cross-reference comprehensively. Take a DBx17 (CANU 37:20) vs. a CANU 38:00, for example.

And yes, unfortunately I am old enough to remember the Whitworth system, including arguments over whose thread specs were better and why!

Bill

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Thanks guys for all the info, just what I was looking for. I've decided to stay with my heavy stitcher for the present time. If Uncle Sam sends me a $600 check I might think about a lighter weight machine.

John

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What's a needle "system"?

SkipJ

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Hi Skip,

The needle system defines the two critical dimensions (the diameter of the shank and the distance from butt to eye) and roughly defines the type of blade, including the eye and point. There are about 5 different "systems" from Singer to Canu with additional letters or numbers to designate point types or orientations of the particular system. A few different systems are 135x17, and its "twin" 135x16, 794, 190, 328, 13435, 7x3, and 332 that are used by popular threaded needle machines.

Size is generally the diameter of the needle in any of the above systems. The size is usually specified in Singer or nm or both as in the following:

Singer/Metric (Needle Size Reference table)

S nm

7 55

8 60

9 65

10 70

11 75

12 80

14 90

16 100

18 110

19 120

20 125

21 130

22 140

23 160

24 180

25 200

27 250

Art

What's a needle "system"?

SkipJ

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A needle system is a set of specifications for a needle. It includes at least shank type and diameter and length from the butt end to the eye, but can also include things such as the specs for the grooves, tapers, flats, etc. The system itself does not specify the point type or size (size is the diameter at the eye end, not the shank or butt end), which are always specified in addition to the system when a needle is ordered, and in fact, there are multiple systems and naming standards for both needle sizing and point types also.

A needle system may IMPLY a size range or point or usage type, however, which only adds to the confusion when trying to figure out if a particular system is usable on your machine. Finally, needle and sewing machine manufacturers have the habit of appending proprietary creative and cryptic bits to existing needle system names when they create a new needle based on an existing type. "794 Serv1" would be an example, where "Serv1" designates a shorter needle of a 794 type ... even though the length would "normally" call for yet another system. Confusing, isn't it?

Needle system naming originates primarily from the sewing machine manufacturers, but many of them are closely associated with needle manufacturers - often because the needle maker was involved in creating the machine(s) with the sewing machine makers from the outset. There are multiple needle system names for most needle types. Although cross references exist - I've seen them - to find identical, comparable, and usable systems, they are very hard to find, and none up-to-date, to my knowledge.

In the end, if you have a machine that takes a common needle, like a DBx1 in a single needle lockstitch machine, you're simply never going to have an issue finding needles in all sizes and points. If you have something slightly more exotic, like the 794 used in the 441 class machines using for sewing leather, it pays to develop a knowledge of systems, point designations, and needle makers.

Briefly, though, there's needle system, size system, point specification system, and various additional proprietary add-on designations. There are multiple systems to specify the system, the size, and the point. It makes for thousands of potential combinations, many, many, many of them for physically identical needles.

It's extremely confusing, but once you've gone through it a few times and understand what you're looking at, it gets better. But then there's THREAD specs ... which are just as bad ...

Bill

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I always come up with my own peculiar naming conventions when I'm writing down construction notes for my bags. For example I know that a 42.5" gusset is for an 18x13 gerber , which all means for an 18" by 13" bag with corners made using the lid of a Gerber baby food jar, because it was the right size. If I ever decide to go narrower and use a quarter for a cutting template, it will then be called an 18x13 quarter.

The ideas for naming come to me on the fly. certain names stick and then I stick with them. I've wondered if many industrial naming conventions also came about via such a practical route?

Ed

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Hi Ed,

It is probably the same thing with needle systems. They mean something to somebody probably long dead.

The system variously designated 7x3, 794, DYx3, and Canu 53:20 are the same basic system and should be called a 2.50x60.00 then add some letters for the other stuff like tip type and orientation.

Then folks say how about all the 2.00 stuff, well there are few diameter x length duplicates there but when there are you could use a 100th of a mm on either side of the true length to fix that, and it wouldn't affect the operation of any machine I know of if they actually manufactured a needle 100th of a mm too long; for instance:

Our old friend the 135x17, DPx17, 2167, SY3355, Canu 37:20 could be called the 2.00x39.00 with a bunch of letter designations for tip and orientation,

and, the infamous TVx3, DVx43, 149x3, 149x31, SY3651, Canu 38:00 could be called the 2.00x39.01 with a bunch of letters.

The DBx1 would end up with a bunch of different systems because the diameter is different on so many of them, but with any good system there are exceptions.

Problem is, there is no agreed upon standards organization and nobody gives a hoot anyway.

Art

I always come up with my own peculiar naming conventions when I'm writing down construction notes for my bags. For example I know that a 42.5" gusset is for an 18x13 gerber , which all means for an 18" by 13" bag with corners made using the lid of a Gerber baby food jar, because it was the right size. If I ever decide to go narrower and use a quarter for a cutting template, it will then be called an 18x13 quarter.

The ideas for naming come to me on the fly. certain names stick and then I stick with them. I've wondered if many industrial naming conventions also came about via such a practical route?

Ed

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Thanks for answering my dumb question, meaning every time I read about sewing machines, I realize how little I know and how complicated they are. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

SkipJ

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Hi Skip,

They really aren't that complicated, especially the stuff we use, the threads are huge compared to the home sewing and embroidery world and the tolerances are correspondingly large, also they are easier to work on because of the larger sizes and it's easier to see in there. Working on a big stitcher is kind of like working on a Toyota engine. Needle and Awl machines can push the envelope a little, but you just have to think carburetors an no computers, they do everything with mechanical timing, not tension. Most of the threaded needle stuff hasn't changes since the 1900s when they switched from real shuttles to rotary. Like any engine, timing can make it run or not run. All the home stuff is electronic now but they are still sewing machines, just the needle deflection and feeds are computer controlled, boards and solenoids aren't too complicated though. I love the old Elna SUs where they controlled all that with cams and leavers.

If you need to take it to a sewing machine repair, just make sure the mechanic is over 50.

Art

Thanks for answering my dumb question, meaning every time I read about sewing machines, I realize how little I know and how complicated they are. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

SkipJ

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I am afraid I know the answer to my question before I ask, but are there any books that explain this stuff? I have 12 or 13 machines at home and 6 or so at work and ordering 100 needles at a time gives me a headache when I have to try to explain what I want when the order taker doesn't seem to know as much as I do.(next to nothing) Thanks , Kevin

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Hi Kevin,

The Schmetz website is probably the best resource although the website is a bugger to navigate. If you just need to know what needle system to use for what machine, call them or email them and give them the most complete model number you have. Once you know the system you can get a list of the needle points and sizes by application from the website.

Art

I am afraid I know the answer to my question before I ask, but are there any books that explain this stuff? I have 12 or 13 machines at home and 6 or so at work and ordering 100 needles at a time gives me a headache when I have to try to explain what I want when the order taker doesn't seem to know as much as I do.(next to nothing) Thanks , Kevin

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Thanks Art I'll give that a try, Kevin PS I grew up in Alexandria, used to go to The Super Chief Drive In, bought vegetables at a stand on Indian Head Hwy. and we always went to Marshall Hall, not Glen Echo.

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Hi Kevin,

The stand is still there and open during the summer and now has a crab truck usually on duty there, got laid at both the Super Chief and the ABC which are gone, houses and a shopping center on the SC for 30 years now and the ABC will be a strip mall, they closed Glen Echo before they closed Marshall Hall, they still have a few things at Glen Echo because it is a Nat Park, the Crystal Pool is in ruin and half filled with sand, no rides. Marshall Hall is back to nature, they burned down the mansion 10 or more years ago. To know that you have to have 60 in the windshield or the rear view mirror.

Art

Thanks Art I'll give that a try, Kevin PS I grew up in Alexandria, used to go to The Super Chief Drive In, bought vegetables at a stand on Indian Head Hwy. and we always went to Marshall Hall, not Glen Echo.

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Great info on the different needles, thanks for sharing. :thumbsup: What about the right SIZE and type thread for the #17 & #16 needles? My new Consew came with the DpX 17 needles, searched the net but no real info out there on what size thread to use with it? :helpsmilie:

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Tachgirl,

We have a chart here:http://www.tolindsewmach.com/thread-chart.html

Bob

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Great info on the different needles, thanks for sharing. :thumbsup: What about the right SIZE and type thread for the #17 & #16 needles? My new Consew came with the DpX 17 needles, searched the net but no real info out there on what size thread to use with it? :helpsmilie:

I have never seen a #17 needle. I have seen #16 and #18.

If you have #16 needles, the maximum thread size in bonded nylon or bonded polyester is #69 (T70) thread, sewn into thin leather, or denim.

If you have #18 needles, they are good for thicker denim, vinyl or 1/8" thick leather, using #69 thread.

If your machine can tension heavier thread, like #92 (T90), a #20 needle is just right (in my experience).

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Thanks guys really appreciate the reply back. :notworthy: Bob appreciate the chart and will definitely check it out. Wiz if you have never heard of a #17 needle (with all your experience) that probably explains why there isn't much info out there on the net. In checking the needle package that came with the machine, it reads Schmetz , Germany, system DPX17, not sure what the word "system" stands for or mean? If it were you, would you go with the correct size thread for the #16 or the #18 needle? From what I have read about the different industrial size needles, the #17 is more for heavier fabrics, canvas etc and lt wt leathers ...the #16 more for the heavier leather. My first project is going to be to sew up a (leopard print) horse saddle pad with 1/2" foam in the center, I'm thinking the #17 needle should work fine for that...just got to figure out the correct size thread, has to be durable and strong since it will have to stand the weight of the saddle and rider for hours on the trails. Thanks again for helping a newbie :cowgirl: out!

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