replace sewing machine needle

How To Replace a Sewing Machine Needle

Do you find your sewing machine skipping stitches or damaging fabric? Replacing the needle of your sewing machine might be necessary at this point in time. Switching to a fresh needle can make all the difference in your sewing projects.

When to Replace Your Sewing Machine Needle

Knowing when to swap out your old needle for a shiny new one helps ensure successful stitching. Here are some critical times you’ll want a new needle in your machine:

Damaged Needle

Bent, blunt, or scratched needles should be replaced. A damaged tip or shaft interferes with smooth stitching. Nicks and burrs along the sewing needle can snag thread or fabric.

Check your needle closely for any imperfections. Even tiny issues with the bent needle can lead to frustrating sewing problems. Don’t risk broken threads or damaged fabric. Toss dull and damaged universal needles.

Skipping Stitches

Do your sewing projects suddenly start showing skipped stitches? This frustrating symptom often indicates a worn needle. As the needlepoint dulls over time, it fails to fully pierce the fabric. Stitches become uneven or incomplete.

Switch out a needle, demonstrating skipped stitches. Choose a new Schmetz needle that is adequately suited for your project’s fabric. A fresh, sharp point fixes stitching accuracy.

Changing Fabric Types

Did you just switch from sewing knits to denim? Or transition from lightweight cotton to wool? Then, it’s also time for a new needle.

Needle types are designed for specific fabrics. An all-purpose needle for wovens may damage delicate knits. Meanwhile, a ballpoint needle might deflect and skip stitches on thick denim.

Always match your sewing needle to the fabric for the best stitching success. Keep a stock of varied needle types on hand.

After X Hours of Use

As a general rule of thumb, sewing experts recommend replacing needles after every 8-10 hours of sewing time.

The point degrades slightly with each puncture of fabric. Over many hours of use, this dulling effect increases skipped stitches and the potential for broken needles.

Routinely swapping out old needles keeps stitch quality strong. Mark your last needle replacement in your sewing machine manual as a reminder.

How to Replace Your Sewing Machine Needle

When it’s time for a new needle, the replacement process is simple. Follow these tips for easy needle changes:


First, unplug your sewing machine. This keeps the motor from accidentally turning and hurting your fingers. Then gather your supplies:

  • New sewing needle. Match the size and type to your previous needle.
  •  Needle insertion tool (if you have one). This helps grip the needle firmly.
  •  Small screwdriver

Review your sewing machine manual for any special replacement notes.

Remove Old Needle

Loosen the needle clamp screw using the screwdriver. This releases the presser foot and needle clamp.

Gently pull down on the old needle to slide it out of the clamp. Discard any bent, dull needles.

Insert New Needle

Insert the new sewing needle into the clamp with the flat side facing away from you. Push the needle up as far as it will go.

Tighten the needle clamp screw securely with the screwdriver. Avoid over-tightening.

Check Height & Position

Consult your manual for the proper needle height and position. Adjust the needle as needed by loosening the screw, moving the needle, then re-tightening.

Make sure the needle eye is centered precisely under the presser foot hole. It’s advisable to conduct a test on a scrap piece of fabric prior to sewing your project.

Needle Types

Choosing the right needle prevents skipped stitches, broken threads, and snagged fabric. Consider these most common needle options:

All-Purpose Needles

All-Purpose Needles
Photo credit: freepik

All-purpose needles work for a wide variety of fabrics. Their slightly rounded point slips smoothly between woven threads. These versatile needles are a good choice for basic sewing in cotton, rayons, silks, and blends.

Ballpoint Needles

Ballpoint needle tips have a rounded point to slide easily between knit fabric loops without snagging threads. Use ballpoint needles when sewing stretchy jerseys, knits, sweaters, or spandex blends.

Denim/Jeans Needles

Thicker denim and jeans needles have an acute point and reinforced shaft. They punch through heavyweight denim without bending or breaking. Prevent skipped stitches in layered denim seams with a jeans needle.

Embroidery Needles

These needles have a slightly rounded point optimized for embroidery floss. The more giant eye accommodates the thicker thread with less friction and shredding. Embroidery needles produce smooth stitching on delicate fabrics.

Leather Needles

Leather needles have a wedge-shaped point for cutting clean holes through leather. The sharp tip pierces leather easily without leaving ragged holes. Use leather needles for perfect stitching in leather crafts.

Proper Needle Care

Extend the life of your sewing machine needles with proper care:

  • Change needles regularly every 8-10 hours of sewing time. Mark the hours in your manual.
  •  Store needles safely in a pincushion, not loosely in a drawer or tin.
  •  Choose the right needle for your fabric type – knit, denim, stretchy, etc.

Proper needle maintenance gives you frustration-free sewing. Take time for quick needle replacements. Your fabric will thank you!


How do I know when to change my sewing needle?

Change your needle if it’s bent, blunt, or causing skipped stitches. Also, change it if you switch fabric types or after 8-10 hours of sewing.

What size sewing needle should I use?

Consult your machine manual for the recommended needle size. Match the new needle size to the old one. Standard sizes are 11/75 or 14/90.

Where can I buy sewing needles?

Sewing needles are sold at craft stores, fabric shops, big box stores, and online retailers—shop brands like Schmetz or Organ for quality needles.

How do I insert the needle correctly?

Insert with the flat side facing away from you. Push it up as far as it will go and tighten the screw securely.

How do I remove a stuck needle?

Turn the handwheel to raise the needle, then loosen the screw. If still stuck, use pliers to grip and gently wiggle out.

Can I reuse an old needle?

It’s best to replace old, dull needles to prevent problems. Don’t reuse bent or damaged needles.


Replacing old needles is a simple sewing machine maintenance task with a big impact. Fresh needles prevent uneven and skipped stitches as well as fabric damage. Learn to spot dulled and damaged needles causing problems. It’s a good idea to have different sizes and types of needles available for your various projects. With the right techniques, you can swap sewing needles quickly and confidently. Happy stitching!

Does changing your machine needle regularly help your sewing success? Share your top needle tips in the comments!


Main image: freepik

Priti Nandy
Priti Nandy
Articles: 168

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