how to replace needle on sewing machine

How To Replace the Needle on Your Sewing Machine

Do you dread the skipped stitches and snagged fabric from sewing with an old, dull sewing machine needle? Learning how to replace the needle on your sewing machine is an easy fix to get your projects back on track. This step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about when and how to change your sewing machine needle.

Even the highest quality sewing machine needles (Singer, Brother, etc.) require replacement after heavy use. But how do you know precisely when to change your sewing machine’s needle? Watch for these signs of a needle gone bad:

  • Skipped stitches as the dull needle fails to pierce the fabric fully
  •  Uneven sewing with loose/tight stitch tension
  •  Fabrics getting damaged or showing small holes along the seam
  •  Thread breaking or fabric fraying, especially delicate materials
  •  The needle inserted crooked or loose in the needle clamp

You should replace sewing needles every 4-6 projects with medium use. For frequent sewers or heavy fabrics like denim, a new needle every 1-3 projects prevents headaches. Immediately swap bent, damaged, or underperforming needles.

Choosing the correct replacement needle is vital for smooth sewing. Needle sizes are denoted by numbers – higher numbers suit thicker fabrics. You’ll also find needles designed for knits (ballpoint needles), embroidery, quilting, and more. Consult your sewing machine manual for the best needle recommendations.

Now let’s get into the step-by-step process for how to replace a sewing machine needle:

Materials Needed

Materials Needed
Photo credit: pexels
  • New correctly sized sewing needle
  •  Small flathead screwdriver

Remove Old Needle

  • Turn the hand wheel to raise the needle to the highest position
  •  Loosen needle clamp screw with screwdriver
  •  Gently pull the old needle down and fully out

Insert New Needle

  • Insert the new needle straight up into the needle clamp
  •  Ensure the flat side is facing back
  •  Push the needle up as far as it can go
  •  Tighten needle clamp screw securely

Test New Needle

  • Turn the hand wheel to lower the needle through the fabric scrap
  •  Check that it pierces fabric cleanly without snags
  •  Do test stitch and check even stitch tension


  • If inserted crooked, remove and realign the needle vertically
  •  If the needle is loose in the clamp, tighten the screw fully
  •  Use needle insertion tool for tricky replacements


What size needle should I use for my sewing machine?

Consult your sewing machine’s manual for the recommended needle size. Match lighter-weight fabrics to smaller needle sizes and heavier fabrics like denim to larger needle sizes.

Is my needle blunt and requires replacement?

Signs of a dull needle include skipped stitches, uneven stitch tension, fabric damage, breaking thread, and crooked needle insertion. Replace your sewing needle every 4-6 projects or more often for heavy use.

Do I need a specialty tool to change the sewing machine needle?

A basic flathead screwdriver is all that’s needed to loosen the needle clamp screw and change the needle in most home sewing machines. Some find a specialty needle insertion tool helpful for tricky replacements.

Why does my needle keep breaking?

Frequent needle breaks usually indicate you are using a needle size that is too small for your fabric. Switch to a larger, heavier needle to avoid breakage. Make sure to insert and tighten the needle as well fully.

How do I know which side of the needle is the front or back?

When inserting a sewing machine needle, it is essential to ensure that the flat side of the needle faces toward the back of the machine. This will help ensure the needle is properly inserted and functions correctly. The rounded front side should face forward.

Sewing with a fresh, high-quality needle makes all the difference in getting uniform stitches and avoiding skipped stitches and damaged fabric. Take a minute to replace dull needles and enjoy smoother sewing! Let us know in the comments if this step-by-step guide helped you replace the needle on your sewing machine.


main image: pexels

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
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