If you are new to the tailoring world or just want to purchase a sewing machine for sewing stuff for home, it’s quite possible that you may not have so much knowledge about sewing machine needles.

Therefore, you subconsciously may raise a question do sewing machine needles get dull or not like other metal-made stuff. 

Do Sewing Machine Needles Get Dull?

Sewing machine needles get dull. Because sewing needles clout their direction through cloths. And the friction of the clothes makes the sewing needles duller with every use. And it keeps going on until the sewing needles are too dull to use. So, every 8 hours of work, needles should be replaced.

When a sewing needle is running through fabrics, it’s forcing itself against the resistance of the fabric to make way through cloths.

And this friction of fabrics makes the needle dull with each use. The dullness of sewing needles depends on the operator and fabric material too. Leathers and heavy fleece make the needles duller than the other fabrics. 

And a needle continues to get dull until it becomes completely unusable and starts making a “thud thud” sound every time it runs through the cloth. Also, it is required to replace a needle every 8 hours of work to continue working smoothly. 

3 Reasons Why Sewing Machine Needles Get Dull

To explain you further in detail, here are the main 3 reasons why sewing machine needles get dull.

Friction of fabrics:

The primary reason behind a sewing needle getting dull is the friction of clothes. While running over clothes, a sewing needle forces itself to make way against the friction that comes from fabrics.

And this resistance ends up making a needle duller with each use. And it continues to do so until the needle is completely dull to be run over fabrics anymore. 

Materials of fabrics: 

Fabric materials are another reason why sewing needles get dull. Fabrics like leather or heavy fleece make the needle duller more than any other fabric.

Because these fabrics are generally thick and more resistant when a needle tries to run over them. Therefore, needles get blunt more often. 

Extended sewing project:

The other reason why needles get dull is a large sewing project. If you continue to quilt or sewing for 8 hours then there’s a high chance that needles will get blunt.

As the needle will go through a long period of forcing itself against friction. So you should change needles after every 8 hours of continuous work. 

How To Tell If A Sewing Machine Needle Is Dull?

If you are new to sewing then perhaps you won’t be able to perceive if your sewing machine needle is dull or not. Therefore to rescue you here is an explanation of the main 3 ways of understanding if a needle is dull or not. 

Changes in sound:

If a sewing machine needle gets dull, each time you will hear a clunk sound like “pop pop or thud thud” when the needle will penetrate the fabric. And it means the needle is dull and needs replacement.

Pull threads in the fabric: 

When a needle is dull, it loses its sharpness and can’t force it enough to go against fabric resistance. Therefore, while running over fabric, it pulls the thread in the fabric and sometimes breaks threads in the fabric. That indicates the needle is dull. 

Run your finger against the needle tip: 

The easiest way to know is to run your finger against the machine needle tip and try to feel if there is any tiny spur or not. If it’s not poking your finger or feeling sharp that means it has become blunt. 

Use a magnifier: 

If you still can not understand whether your sewing machine needle is dull or not, use a magnifier and have a close look at the needle pointer. You will see the dull needle tip. 

Can Sewing Machine Needles Be Sharpened?

Sewing machine needles are metal-made and like any other metal-made object sewing machine needles can be sharpened. 

The easiest and quickest way of sharping a sewing needle is using an emery board that comes along with a tomato pin cushion. Just put a little oil on the board and go back and forth to sharpen your machine needle. 

However, if the needle is bent then you better not try to sharpen it. Because it will be a total waste of time trying to straighten and sharpen it. Your sewing machine perhaps won’t even accept that sewing needle. 

How Do You Sharpen Dull Needles? 

Sharpening dull sewing machine needles are not difficult at all but it’s a little tricky. So if you are struggling to sharpen your blunt needles, then have a look at this step-by-step guide. In this guide, simple steps to sharpen a dull needle have been explained precisely.

Test the sharpness: 

First, test the sharpness of your sewing machine needle. Run your finger against the needle tip. If you feel that the needle point is still much sharp then just polishing will do the job.

However, if you don’t feel any spur at the needle tip and if it doesn’t even poke your finger then assume that it is dull and needs a fine sharpening. 

Rub on an emery board:

An emery board is the most effective and easiest method of sharpening a sewing machine needle. Put a little oil on the emery board surface and rub the needle back and forth on that fine grit. And after a few passes, your needle should become sharp enough to reuse. 

Polish the needle’s metal: 

Polishing is an important step to make the needle smooth after rubbing it on the emery board. For polishing your sewing needle, you will be needing metal-polishing paste.

Just put some paste on a cloth and place the cloth over a rubber hand glove. Then pull the needle backward quite a lot of times. 

As the needle will be polished you will notice that the paste is turning black. You can use toothpaste( that has polishing grit) also to polish the needle. 

Use a soap bar:

You can stick the needle tip into a soap bar and take it out to give the needle an even smoother surface. Use this step only if you are experiencing difficulties using your sewing needle after rubbing it on the emery board and polishing phase.

Soap that is remaining on the sewing needle will help it to run over clothes easily. And don’t worry soap on needles will not harm the fabrics. 

How Long Do Sewing Machine Needles Last?

The life span of a sewing machine needle completely depends on the usage and the operator. A sewing machine needle can last for one minute and can even last for a month as well.

However, a sewing machine needle should be replaced after every eight hours of work to pursue sewing smoothly and effectively. 

Besides, it is also recommended that you should change your needles after every large project and after every three full bobbins or two pre-wound bobbins used. 

How Do You Clean A Sewing Needle? 

You can clean a sewing needle by using various ways, among them cleaning with boiling water and rubbing alcohol are mostly used ones. 

To clean by boiling, put the needle into a pot and bring the water to a boil of at least 93.3°C. Boil for at least 30 minutes. 

To clean by rubbing alcohol, absorb the needle into rubbing alcohol or a sterilized gauze pad plummeted in alcohol. 

And if you just want to remove rust from needles then dip them in coconut oil or cooking oil, then rub by using foil paper and clean with a plain cloth. 

How Do You Know When Your Machine Needles Need Changing? 

There are several ways of knowing when your machine needles require change. And some of the very effective ways are listed below for you. 

The machine is making sound:

When you’ll hear your machine is giving a club sound like “pop pop or thud thud” whenever the needle is running over clothes. Then just know that it’s time for replacing the machine needle. 

The machine is putting too much effort:

If you notice that your machine is putting twice the effort, it means your machine needles need to be changed. Because with a dull needle, the machine’s motor works hard and it can wear out quickly. 

Pulling threads:

When you see that your sewing needle is pulling threads in fabrics, it clearly means it needs replacement. As a dull needle can’t make its way against the fabric’s friction.  

How Often Should I Change My Sewing Machine Needle?

You are required to change your sewing machine needle too often, the machine’s functionality and wearing out time depends on the needle too. Therefore, if you don’t know how often you should change, then have a look at the points listed below. 

Using for a large project:

After using a needle for a large project or using a needle on fabrics like heavy fleece or leather, your machine needs a needle replacement. 

8-hour work:

After using a needle for 8 work hours, automatically your machine will need a needle changing.

Using after 3 full bobbins:

When you are done using 3 full bobbins or 2 pre-wound bobbins, your machine needles should be changed. 

Sewing machine needles are metal made so just like other objects, it tends to get dull and rusty. However, still, the bluntness depends on how long it has been used and the operator. Although, you might reuse a dull needle by sharping it properly. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are Sewing Machines Dual Voltage?

Are Sewing Needles Magnetic?

Is Sewing Machine Oil Safe for Plastic?

Are Sewing Machines Loud?

Sewing Machine Oil Substitutes

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