"YOUR SEWING MACHINE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE NEEDLE BEING USED" (Schmetz)
Last Saturday when I was at the taping of the DVD for Superior Threads, Bob recommended using a top stitch needle when working on a quilt. I've heard a few ladies here in St. George casually mention the same thing. This is relatively new information for me. When I became a quilter I was told to use a Universal needle, and haven't thought much about needles since then.
Today I decided to get on the Internet and do a little research on my own to see if I want to switch to a top stitch needle. I gathered information for piecing when using a home machine, because that is mainly what I am interested in. Besides that, with a name like Cactus Needle, I figured I better know something about needles!
I thought top stitch needles were required by people using the wide variety of decorative threads on the market, and Universal needles were for traditional piecing. While Universal needles are still adequate for piecing, top stitch needles have some added benefits.
Top stitch needles are extra sharp, have an extra large eye with a large groove to accommodate thread.
Many of the comments I read agreed that a top stitch needle works better than a Universal. One woman said she felt it reduced thread problems significantly. The larger eye and deeper groove relieves the amount of friction placed on the thread as it pierces the fabric in a continual motion. With less friction, the fibers of the thread have less stress and provide more strength to your seams. You also experience less thread breakage.
Our goal after all is sharp, well shaped stitches.
Another question I had was if I wanted to spend the extra money on using a titanium needle.
Most conventional needles are chromium plated. Titanium needles are made of a stronger material. Titanium nitride is layered on the surface of the needles, which extends the life of the needle by at least 5 times.
You may wonder why that is such a big deal.
How often should you change your needle? In the old days the answer was "when it broke"! But now days the rule of thumb is when you start a new project. Considering some projects take longer than others, it's a good idea to change your needle out with every 6-8 hours of sewing. A blunt needle damages the fibers in your fabric, causing snags, puckers and often skipped stitches.
With titanium needles you can sew for up to 50 hours before changing your needle.
I like any quilting idea that means less maintenance. I'll be switching to titanium.
Bob mentioned that there are no titanium top stitch needles on the market at this time. In the spring Superior Threads will be carrying a new line of needles that are both top stitch and titanium. I will be standing in line for some of those!
If you have any other questions about what size needle or thread to use on what project, I'm going to refer you again to Superior Threads web site http://www.superiorthreads.com/