Sewing needles have been in use for tens of thousands of years, with very little variation. Yet some needles, like those used on embroidery machines, have some slight design differences. Needles used on Janome embroidery machines such as the Janome DC5100 are specifically constructed to make creating beautiful machine embroidery easy.

Embroidery Needle Anatomy

Needles used on embroidery sewing machines have a design that is specific for this type of work. As such, the needles are different than any standard, hand sewing ones that consist of little more than a rounded shaft with a thread hole at one end. Following are the various designs available:

  • The Shank - The end of the needle that is furthest from the eye is called the shank. This part is wider than the rest of the needle since this is the part that is inserted into the machine. The shank on needles for most home embroidery machines is rounded except for the back, which is flat. This flat area helps to keep the shank properly positioned in the machine.
  • The Shaft - Between the shank and the eye is the thinner shaft or the blade. The shaft makes up most of the length of the needle and its thickness determines needle size. The shaft is designed with a long groove on the front side that the thread slides along during stitching.
  • The Eye - At the end of the needle is the eye and the point. Needles used on embroidery machines like the Janome DC5100 have an elongated eye that easily accommodates embroidery thread, which is thicker than standard sewing machine thread. The larger eye allows the thread to smoothly slide through during stitching, preventing dragging that can fray the thread.
  • The Scarf - On the back side of the needle is yet another groove that spans through the eye from just below the point end to a little bit above the shaft end. This indentation is known as the scarf. On home machines like Janome embroidery machines, the bobbin thread passes up through the scarf during the creation of a stitch.
  • The Point - The point pierces through the fabric, bringing the thread with it to create a stitch. There are a variety of different needle points available for use with different fabrics and threads. Generally, woven fabrics require sharper needles to pierce between threads while knit fabrics require ball points that push threads aside, both of which create smaller holes and cause less damage to the type of fabric being used.

Choosing the Right Embroidery Needle

Despite how different these needles are from the standard versions, choosing the right one to use with an embroidery machine means asking the same basic questions that are asked when choosing a needle for any other purpose. The type of fabric must be considered as does the type of thread and its thickness. The tip must be chosen based on the fabric type. In addition, the complexity of the embroidery design plays a part in making the right choice.

Embroidery needles are available in only three sizes:  75/11, 80/12, and 90/14. The most common size used for basic embroidery work is a size 75/11, which is suitable for stitching through most average weight fabric. Heavier fabrics require the use of larger needles. There are also specialized variations for embroidering on denim, fleece, and other heavy fabrics.

When working with embroidery machines like the Janome DC5100, getting the best results requires using the right supplies. Choosing the proper needle with the right tip ensures that stitching will be smooth and easy, reducing any fabric damage. Janome and other embroidery machines should always be used with needles specifically designed for machine embroidery!

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