In part one of this occasional article Jon and Callum from Barnyarns introduced the basics about Schmetz needles. But what if something is not going quite right. Here’s what they said

Needle Breaks

Needle Technology has become so advanced now that Schmetz actually produce a specific needle for actual applications. One of the main problems and causes of breakage is the use of an incorrect needle. Needles break because they are too fine for the fabric or have the wrong point. If you are breaking needles, check it is the correct type needle breakage does tend to lead towards component damage and expensive repairs. Generally if you follow these simple guidelines you should reduce your instances of breakages.

There is no such thing as a cheap needle. Cheap is exactly what it means. The needle is one of the most important components in your machine, use a good one.

Always use the correct needle size and point style for the job in hand.

Change your needle regularly, the point and the blade can be easily damaged, especially in difficult applications.

If ever you have a stitching problem, the first thing you should do is change your needle, rethread and check your bobbin.

Thread Breaks

Some machine embroiderers find that even when using Madeira’s high quality threads they experience the thread snapping or shredding. The usual advice given is to ‘change the needle’ and usually it works. However, if you understand why you change the needle, the advice makes much more sense.

Whilst in use a machine thread runs through the eye of the needle very fast, creating a groove which is unique to that thread. As each type of thread has it’s own unique weight and twist, when you change to a different type of thread the groove in the eye of the needle does not match the thread and trouble ensues.

The best needles come in neat plastic boxes and if you stick a label across the box you can note which needle you used for which thread, keep a separate needle for each type (not colour!) of thread that you use. Taking the extra few seconds to change to it’s special needle will make life much easier!

Thread tension is also a prime cause of thread breakage. Puckering is a sign of bad tension and you can help eliminate puckering, especially in fine fabrics, by using a fine sharp needle and a straight stitch throat plate. The fine sharp needle will punch through the fabric with less drag and the straight stitch throat plate will give more support to the fabric as the needle punches through it.

A straight stitch throat plate has a round hole for the needle as opposed to the wide hole designed for zigzag sewing. This is often an optional accessory for your machine. You will get the best, even seam, using a Jean/Sharp needle with a straight stitch throat plate. As well as a straight stitch plate, a straight stitch foot is also recommended because, like the throat plate, it has a small round hole instead of a wide rectangular one.

Remember, in machine embroidery, it is important to use a thick enough needle to punch a big enough hole to allow the embroidery thread sufficient access to prevent damage to the thread and thereby shredding and breaking. Therefore the thicker the thread the thicker the needle should be.

In the final part of this series Jon and Callum will explain what size needle to use and when.


In the coming weeks there will be further articles and videos to bring you valuable advice from our craft and industry experts to help you improve your technique.

If you would like further help and advice about needles then visit the Barnyarns website or take a trip to their shop in Northallerton. They can usually be found at the main exhibitions happening around the UK this year. Check out our events calendar and see what’s going on in your area.