Needle Life: Knowing When to Hold It and When to Throw It

How often should you change your needle?

Not sure how long to use the same needle? Maybe you’ve thrown one away needlessly because you didn’t remember what size was in your machine? Well I’ve had the same issues as you and I decided to find a solution.

We're all a bit frugal and it's kind of funny. We have these multi-thousand-dollar machines and we're worried about wasting a one-dollar needle. All this money invested in fabrics, stabilizers, and threads and we're worried about a needle?

Comparatively speaking, needles are cheap. 

I’ve heard (and grew up being taught) to toss them out with each project. This didn’t make a lot of sense to me since some of my projects are 30-minutes long and others last for weeks.

I’ve heard 8 hours of usage, I’ve heard after so many stitches (but not all machines count stitches), and I’ve heard between 6-10 hours of usage, or even after just 2 hours. Quite a variety of opinions and options.

The truth is there are no specific hard and fast rules—just guidelines. Every project and/or fabric is different and so needles wear out at different rates. They wear faster if sewn on man made fibers than if you sew on natural fibers. Also, balsa wood and/or metal, for obvious reasons, will ruin a needle after one use.

I decided to take the average from all my research and came up with 8 hours of use before changing needles. But please, if you’re shredding thread, the needle makes a punching sound as it penetrates the fabric, the fabric snags, or you’re having any issues with stitch formation—toss the needle. Sometimes they just wear out sooner than 8 hours and that’s okay too.  

If you’re like I was, you’ll push the limits and use a needle too long or simply forget to change it. The needle is the cheapest thing in your sewing room and, some would argue, makes the biggest impact on how stitches form from your machine.


Tracking needle usage makes sewing less troublesome and far more fun. Check back to see how my Needle Keeper is made. It will help you store new needles, let you know which size is in your machine (without a magnifier), and keep track of "hour mileage" on your used needles. It's such a fun and useful project, you'll want to make one for your sewing buddies too!

May your day be blessed with perfect stitches and GlitterFlex!!

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