How to organize needles

needles_by_machineThose who know me well, know that there are two subjects I refuse to discuss. And that would be needles and thread. Reason being, I’ve been stuck in too many social situations with needles and thread being the topic du jour. Want to know what a bunch of garmentos talk about when you get them into a room with whiskey and cigars? Needles and thread. Golf course? Needles and thread. Barbeque? Needles and thread. I’ve yet to meet anybody who has been in this business for 30 years or more, whose eyes didn’t light up like a 5 year old’s on Christmas morning at the prospect of a needle and thread coffee klatch. It could be said that I occasionally exaggerate or am given to hyperbole but I haven’t in this case.

Thoroughly overdosed, a condition of sale for any machine I buy is that it must come with needles so I know what kind to buy for it. I’m fanatical about making sure needles Stay In Their Drawer. Comes such a day when that doesn’t work well anymore because I need several types (ball points, diamond points) and of course, other people pull needles from drawer A and callously deposit them in drawer B. It’s not as though the different types are labeled with Hey! I’m a ball point!; it’s always a list of cryptic string of numbers and letters, and every brand (I have 6) does it differently. And then of course, how can you remember what size and type needle is in what machine? Well, I have that all figured out. Maybe my method will work for you too?

Using my handy label machine, I label each packet according to the machine that uses it. BH stands for button holer (I also have a blind hemmer but those needles can’t be confused with any other). OL stands for overlock, WF is walking foot, SN is single needle (the needle feed uses the same ones) and CS is coverstitch. A photo of this is shown up top. If the needle is special in some way, it gets another label. BP is ball point; DP is diamond point (this is shown in the photo below). By the way, many packets have DP on them. This does not (unto itself) mean diamond point.


As far as knowing which machine needle is in the machine, I stick the needle packet on the head with a magnet. And no, the magnet will not break the machine.


By the way, I had been questing for the perfect magnets and made a couple of bad buys (over the web). These are the ones I’d been looking for. You see these on machine heads everywhere.  They are 3″ long and .75″ wide.

After I organized mine today, I counted 16 packets of needles just for the single needle and the needle feed. That’s about $80. Crazy. Well, no more.

Finding the right needle size in the Haystack pt.1
Finding the right needle size in the Haystack pt.2

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15 Comments on "How to organize needles"

1 year 6 months ago

Thanks for your remark, Stu

Actually, I have searched the internet for some comparison on teflon foot, walking foot attachment, large diameter roller foot and foot with small diameter rollers. Stu’s Remark is the only one I got when using Google. All these foots try to reduce the friction against the fabric from above in order to facilitate the movement of the sticky fabric. Stu suggests that the large diameter roller foot is the best to do that. I have no expierience on these foots, but as a mechanical engineer I tend to agree.

In my search on the internet, these large diameter rollers seems only awailable for Bernina household machines and for industrial machines.

Have anyone seen these rollers being sold to facilitate other household machines?

1 year 7 months ago

I have only one home sewing machine, but I have more than 16 packets of needles. :o (32, just counting, but they are not all different, that includes the recharge packages.) Luckily the Organ home sewing needles are cheaper than what your machines use.

But you are so right: putting them back where they belong is so important!

Even IF somthing is imprinted in the shaft, figuring out what takes so much more time, you can store your needle 20 times or more often, in what it takes to read and decipher the little numbers of only one needle.

Doris W.
1 year 7 months ago

I use a Plano bait/tackle box, bought at WalMart fishing department. Lid is removed so the whole business sits inside a shallow drawer. Needle envelopes are arranged by type and size.

Slightly used “low mileage” needles go on a classic tomato pin cushion that has Fine Sharpie lines drawn on it and each category labeled for type & size. Three different tomato pin cushions (home sewing machine, machine embroidery, coverstitch) to keep the the low mileage pins all organized.

David S.
1 year 7 months ago

I keep my needles in plastic Plano box (a 3750). It’s got three rows of compartments, two narrow and one wider. The rows have dividers, and I’ve arranged each of the narrow rows into six compartments. Each compartment is dedicated to a needle size (or sizes: I don’t use many ballpoints, so I’ve put them all in one compartment. Same with very small sizes, I don’t use them enough to warrant having many needles, so 9/10/11 are all in the same slot.) The slots hold 10 or 12 packets of typical industrial needles. The rest of the box holds feed dogs, presser feet, bobbin cases, and stuff like that. Much too big for a machine drawer, but it suits my purposes well.

A used machine I looked at a couple years ago had a sticker from a dealer that listed the needle types it took, the oil it took, and the length of the belt.

1 year 7 months ago

Will I ge smacked in the face for saying I can usually just read what’s actually on the needle