A Guide on How to Change a Sewing Machine Needle

A Guide on How to Change a Sewing Machine Needle

Whether you’re creating a beautiful period costume for the next ball or you just want to hem that new pair of jeans, it’s important to have reliable tools for the job. When it comes to proper sewing machine care, regular maintenance and upgrades go a long way to both preserving your machine for years to come and ensuring that you get the best lines and proper stitches every time. 

Love Sew believes that sewing, hemming, and quilting are important and beloved artistic tasks that should be accessible to everyone from experts to beginner quilters and artists. That’s why we share the tools and parts you need to keep building your skills and following your creative visions and why we want to provide the guidance and information we’ve learned over the years. Here’s your guide to properly changing your sewing machine needle at home today. 

Why Is It Important to Change Your Sewing Machine Needle?

Changing your sewing machine needle may seem like a hassle—it’s not too challenging, we promise! —but the truth is that it’s a very important step to take when caring for and maintaining your sewing machine. Here are a few of the reasons you’ll want to listen to your machine and always change the needle when the time comes. 

A Dull Needle Can Damage Your Motor 

We all know that sewing machines are personal, special machines that can be used to help us create our visions in fabric. They’re not inexpensive, either. A dull needle can mean the difference between using the machine you love for years to come and having to replace it with a machine that just doesn’t fit right. 

When you have a dull needle, it means your machine isn’t working at its maximum efficiency. This puts strain on the motor and can even cause it to short out over time. Replacing a needle is much easier than replacing the motor on your favorite sewing machine. 

It Can Damage Your Fabric

In addition to keeping your machine safe, a proper needle can keep your fabric in the best possible condition, as well. A dull needle is far more likely to cause rips, tears, and uneven lines, which can be frustrating to manage. You’ll know you’re getting the best possible stitches when you use a fresh, sharp needle. 

It Can Cause Broken Threads

What’s more frustrating than having a thread break right in the middle of your hem? With a dull needle, you’ll be putting more strain on the thread, which makes it more likely to break and requires a lot more effort on your end. 

Signs Your Sewing Needle Needs to Be Changed

We know why sewing needles should be changed often and why it’s important to look out for signs of needle damage or wear, but what are those signs exactly? Here are a few common indications that it’s time for a regular sewing machine needle change. 

Your Fabric Tugs 

The most obvious sign that your needle needs to be swapped out is that it’s not actually clearing the fabric properly. If you notice that the fabric of your current project is tugging while your work, it means the needle has gotten dull and isn’t piercing the textile the way it’s supposed to. 

Your Thread Breaks 

Not only is it important to change your needle often because it can cause broken threads, but if you are noticing that your threads are breaking a lot, that can be an indication or symptom of a dull needle. 

Tugging on the fabric or thread because the point is no longer sharp means that you’re more prone to breakage and frustration. Pay attention to your thread strain and swap out if you notice a lot more breaking than usual. 

Your Stitches Are Uneven

The effect of all the tugging and thread damage is that your stitches won’t be as clean or even as normal. Even if you don’t necessarily see the thread or fabric catching or breaking, if you notice that your stitches are unusually messy or that you’re actually skipping stitches when you use your machine, that is a very good indication that your needle is dull and needs to be replaced. 

Your Needle Snaps 

If your needle snaps, you want to stop using your machine right away. It can have lasting damage on the machine to run with a snapped or broken needle, and the flyaway parts can jam or break important systems. 

It can take time for the needle to snap, which is why it’s important to change your needle out often, but if your needle snaps, you’ll want to bring your machine to an expert to inspect. 

You Are Starting a New Project 

A good rule of thumb is that you want to swap out your needle for every one to two projects, depending on the type of fabric you’re sewing and how long the project takes. Needle changes are similar to car tune-ups in that they keep the machine working properly and should be followed up with at regular intervals. 

Even if you don’t notice any other signs of wear or fabric damage, it’s a good idea to swap out your sewing machine needle after about five hours of sewing. This will help to keep your sewing machine working properly and prevent or reduce the likelihood of any future damage. 

How to Change Your Sewing Needle

Taking care of your sewing needle is the best way to ensure your sewing machine lasts and that every project is as smooth and clean as possible. It’s a relatively simple process that you can manage right at home, and Love Sew is here to help you get the steps down pat. 

To start, grab your screwdriver, needle, and needle insertion tool. Then follow these simple steps to replace your sewing needle and keep your favorite sewing machine running right. 

Step One

Locate the screw on top of the needle and loosen it until it comes free. During this process, you’ll want to make sure you hold onto your needle so it doesn’t fall or get lost inside the machine. This is where you’ll need your screwdriver. 

Step Two

Remove the needle. Take your time to remove the needle properly by pulling it in the direction opposite from the needle clamp. Watch your fingers to avoid injury from pinching or from the needle. 

Step Three

Take your needle insertion tool and push the needle into the hole until there is no more room for it to move. During this step, make sure that the flat edge of the needle is facing the back of the sewing machine. 

Step Four

Begin to tighten the screw on your needle clamp. It’s best to start the process with your fingers to ensure that the needle is lined up properly. Once you are certain that everything is in place, you can tighten the screw down with your screwdriver. 

Step Five

Thread your needle and begin your next great project. 


There are many ways to keep your sewing machine working properly, and regular needle changes are one of them. When our sewing machines are well-maintained and cared for, they last longer, work much more effectively and deliver on clean, high-quality stitches that make our final projects look great every time. Needle changes are one of the simplest and most important steps you can take for proper sewing machines, and the good news is that you can perform them right at home with ease. 

When you change out your needle properly you protect your sewing machine’s motor and prevent thread and fabric damage, which are just a few of the reasons why it’s important. You’ll know it’s time for a needle change if you notice tugging or regular thread breakage, uneven or skipped stitches, or broken needles, which should be addressed as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to change out the needle on your sewing machine after five hours of sewing, even if you don’t notice any indications of wear or damage. 

Love Sew can help. We want to make it easy to maintain and care for your sewing machine, which is why we’re sharing our simple guide for removing the needle and replacing it with a brand new one. All it takes is a screwdriver, a needle insertion tool, and a couple of minutes. 

Whether you’re a crafting and textile expert always on the search for the next great project or you want to learn the basics, we have the guides, parts, and resources you need to get started. Explore our growing catalog of sewing and quilting tools and begin your next artistic journey with the support of Love Sew today.  



3 Common Sewing Machine Problems (and How to Fix Them) | Martha Stewart 

How to Fix Sewing Machine Skipped Stitches | The Spruce Crafts 

The Best Sewing Machine Needles for Reliable Stitches | Art News 

Back to blog