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Neat Trick for Needle Sizing

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When visiting a home sewing machine shop, I watched the following tip. I thought how clever it would be for people having issues with the wrong needle thread sizing. I know that many of us have charts but this is a quick and dirty method.

This lady carted in with a machine, a cigar box FULL of needles, about 10-12 spools of thread, some light fabric, some heavy denim and some suede (4-5 oz). Turned out that this machine was given to her by her Mom and that she had seen her sew all these materials on it with no issue. She was constantly breaking threads and thought that the machine was the issue so this guy had already cleaned, oiled and tuned it up for her. However she still had issues so he was going to help her set up needles and thread to match materials.

First thing they did was look at about 20 needles from the cigar box and throw some of them away due to burrs. He told her that she would have to go through the rest of the box but showed her how to do that.

Next they selected one of the threads for the leather and started to select a leather needle. He picked out a diamond shaped one and told her to cut 3 foot of thread. He then "tested" it and said that this one will create issues. He picked another one and said this combination of thread and needle will work. He did it for 3 other pieces of thread and finally came up with some combinations that would work. Then he tried it on her machine andn it worked perfectly with her sewing without any issues.

Correct Thread - Needle Sizing Tip

(1) Cut about 3 feet of thread that you are going to use

(2) Select the needle that you are going to use

(3) Thread the needle on one end and leave about 8 inches past the end of the needle (If the needle sticks at this point it is too small)

(4) Hold the needle in one hand (thumb and forefinger) and wrap the excess thread around the forefinger

(5) Take the opposite end of the thread in your other hand and drop it down so that it makes approximately a 45 degree angle

(6) Make sure that the thread is tight between your two hands

(7) Release the needle from your thumb and forefinger and watch the motion that occurs

If the needle sticks at the top, it is too small - try the next largest needle.

If the needle is jerky as it slides, it is too small - try the next largest needle.

If the needles slides rapidly, it is too large - try the next smallest needle

If the needle slides steadily & evenly, it is the correct size.

Here's a chart from Excel.

Thread-Needle.jpg

Regards,

Ben

post-5-125621874658_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the tip. The information you give just before the chart looks correct but the chart is incorrect and should be deleted or corrected to avoid confusion.

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Pic fixed. Good info, Ben, thanks!

~J

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Thanks! This is information I can really use.

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i was taught this method by master motor trimmers and passed it on when I was teaching. Great quick reference.

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It may work to tell you that a needle will work, but not that a needle won't work.  There are many needle thread combos that work, well actually that don't work, and the eye size is only one factor.  What I do is basically just follow the rules, and test combinations. 

In one of the type of sewing I do, outdoor gear, there are lot of people who want to get the strongest thread through the smallest hole.  Not a great approach, the needle bends, and the point strikes something and the process fouls up.  Any reason they had for doing it is no longer valid because the material is all snarled up.  This happens with leather also.  Either people want to run machines and therefore smaller needles than they should because it is all that they have.  or they want to minimize the size of holes in the work.  Just sticking to the normal set up is usually the best solution.

 

Jeans are an interesting example, size 16 needles and fat thread for top stitching, works great in denim.  But with leather the needle is the tool that applies tension, and there is often more than it can take required to close a seam.

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You mentioned needle charts in your first post.  Does anyone happen to have one that you would't mind reposting?

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3 hours ago, Bru said:

You mentioned needle charts in your first post.  Does anyone happen to have one that you would't mind reposting?

Here is a needle and thread size chart from Toledo Industrial Sewing Machines. It shows the best needles to use with thread size 33 through 554. It includes the diameter of the bonded thread, tensile strength, plies, Govt equivalent sizes and Tex size equivalents.

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Thanks Wiz - this is perfect!

18 minutes ago, Wizcrafts said:

Here is a needle and thread size chart from Toledo Industrial Sewing Machines. It shows the best needles to use with thread size 33 through 554. It includes the diameter of the bonded thread, tensile strength, plies, Govt equivalent sizes and Tex size equivalents.

 

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On 3/29/2016 at 1:23 AM, Massive said:

It may work to tell you that a needle will work, but not that a needle won't work.  There are many needle thread combos that work, well actually that don't work, and the eye size is only one factor.  What I do is basically just follow the rules, and test combinations. 

In one of the type of sewing I do, outdoor gear, there are lot of people who want to get the strongest thread through the smallest hole.  Not a great approach, the needle bends, and the point strikes something and the process fouls up.  Any reason they had for doing it is no longer valid because the material is all snarled up.  This happens with leather also.  Either people want to run machines and therefore smaller needles than they should because it is all that they have.  or they want to minimize the size of holes in the work.  Just sticking to the normal set up is usually the best solution.

 

Jeans are an interesting example, size 16 needles and fat thread for top stitching, works great in denim.  But with leather the needle is the tool that applies tension, and there is often more than it can take required to close a seam.

You are so right... in 45 yrs of sewing ...I can't agree more.

 

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Yes the old slide test is a good one, used to be in all the Singer operator manuals.   I also find that if when you go to thread your needle if its hard to get the thread thru its too thick, or if it just flops straight thru without seemingly even touching the side of the needle hole then its too thin..   There are times when you might want on oversize needle to thread relationship though, like sewing thick leather or sticky vinyl where you need the hole a bit bigger to give the the machine a chance to lock the stitch.....

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I'm hoping to get a sewing machine in the next month or so(I hope I can get the CB3200).  I have been hand sewing till now using basically just a few thread sizes I got from the local Tandy.  I see the chart Wiz had which I've copied.  Is there any reference or guide to go by on what thread to use for the project?  How do I determine what to use for say, a Holster? knife sheath? a Binder cover? I will be doing small/thinner and up to 3/8 thick items,  Mostly I will be using veg tanned.   Using the search tool here hasn't told me much yet, but I haven't stopped looking.  I want to be able to get a small selection of needles and thread when I am able to get a machine and have some guide on what needle or thread to use. 

Any direction you can point me in to look, will be appreciated.

On ‎7‎/‎14‎/‎2016 at 7:03 PM, Singermania said:

Yes the old slide test is a good one, used to be in all the Singer operator manuals.   I also find that if when you go to thread your needle if its hard to get the thread thru its too thick, or if it just flops straight thru without seemingly even touching the side of the needle hole then its too thin..   There are times when you might want on oversize needle to thread relationship though, like sewing thick leather or sticky vinyl where you need the hole a bit bigger to give the the machine a chance to lock the stitch.....

This made ALOT of sense. Now just which needle/s for what thickness of leather?

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Most people use #277 on sheaths & #138 on the thinner leather.

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Thank you Bob! this helps.  I hope to order in the next month.

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I use the strongest thread size with which I can hide the knots inside the material. This equates to the following general purpose outline. The thicknesses are not fixed in stone. You may want to use a thicker thread on top and thinner thread on the bottom, for a bolder topstitch appearance. Or, you may decide to groove out a stitch line and fill it with smaller top thread that lies below the surface. The strength of each mixed size stitch is decided by the smaller size thread.

  1. #69 thread into about 3-4 ounces (~11 pounds test)
  2. #92 thread into 5-7 ounces (~15 pounds test)
  3. #138 thread into 8-11 ounces (22 pounds test)
  4. #207 thread into 12-15 ounces (32 pounds test)
  5. #277 into 16-32 ounces (45 pounds test)
  6. #346 into 33-64 ounces (53 pounds test)
  7. #415 into over 3/4 inch (72 pounds test)

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Thank you Wiz.  saving this in a file!

Needles?   Would I use needles that the thread fits as described by Singermania typically?

I do appreciate the help.

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Can someone tell me the best needle for the Seiko STW-8B ?

The person I bought the machine from told me to use 17/231 needles.

However google told me 135/17 or 16 for leather.

Im a bit bit confused . Ill be mainly using bonded nylon 40s (#69).

Also I only seem to be able to find 16/231 not 17.

thnx

Edited by Sticks

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7 hours ago, Sticks said:

Can someone tell me the best needle for the Seiko STW-8B ?

The person I bought the machine from told me to use 17/231 needles.

However google told me 135/17 or 16 for leather.

Im a bit bit confused . Ill be mainly using bonded nylon 40s (#69).

Also I only seem to be able to find 16/231 not 17.

thnx

Needle System 135x17 (round) or 135x16 (leather)

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