How to change a sewing machine needle

New to sewing and need to change the sewing machine needle? I’ll show you how in this step by step tutorial, and share some top tips about sewing machine needles too…


Sewing machine needles are not a purchase for life! If you’ve still to purchase a machine, head over to this post to help you choose


They should be changed for every 8 hours of continuous sewing, and for each new project or different fabric. EG if sewing denim, and you try and use the same needle for chiffon, you will very likely snag the chiffon.


Most brands of domestic sewing machine needles are generally all universal across most domestic sewing machines, but it is worth checking your manual to ensure you get the right needle for your machine. In general the larger the needle number, the thicker and bigger the needle is.

How to change a sewing machine needle

Change a sewing machine needle: Step 1


Changing your needle is a really simple operation.
Hold the needle with your left hand and unscrew the screw at the top of the needle. (Holding the needle ensures it doesn’t drop inside your machine)
TOP TIP: Keep a sharps box to dispose of your needles.
How to change a sewing machine needle

Change a sewing machine needle: Step 2


With the flat side at the back, push the new needle up inside the sewing foot as high as it will go, and then tighten the screw.


TOP TIP: To double check the needle has been inserted correctly, run your thumbnail along the front of the needle, you should feel a groove if it’s in the right way round

Change a sewing machine needle

Ta dah!


That’s it all done, your new needle is now inserted and you’re all ready to get back to sewing

Common sewing machine needles


The needle I use the most for dressmaking is:


  • Schmetz universal  705H needle number 80/12. This is a great needle for fairly fine woven fabrics.
  •  I use Schmetz universal  705H needle number 90/14 If sewing heavier cottons


When sewing stretch fabrics I use a stretch or jersey needle, which is a type of ballpoint needle. Ball point needles separate the fibers in the fabric, rather than  splitting them like a regular sharp needle does. The tip of this needle is rounded, and it is only useful for knitted fabrics, and won’t generally give the best result on woven fabrics.

How to change a sewing machine needle

There are lots of job specific needles for trickier fabrics available. These are the ones I commonly use-

  • A denim needle. Denim needles are strong, but have extra sharp points, allowing the needle to pierce the densely woven fabric.


  • A leather needle. The point of a leather needle is actually shaped more like a blade, this creates a triangular hole in the leather. Using a regular needle creates a small split which will over time tear and ruin the garment


  • An extra sharp microtex needle. I use these for delicates like silk and satin.


  • Stretch needles. These are great when stitching really stretch stuff like elastic and lycra, or any stretch fabric where your machine has been skipping stitches.
How to change a sewing machine needle

The brand of machine needles you choose can be a very important decision. Frankly, some of the very cheap needles, just aren’t good enough meaning you’ll pay twice as you’ll use more when they fail!


My brand of choice is schmetz a German brand that have proved to be the best needles I’ve used in my professional sewing career

PS – need some more help with your sewing machine? Head over to my free Kickstart your sewing machine course

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.