You picked out a couple of pairs of scissors and now you’ve turned the corner to see the wall of pins and needles. This part get’s a little crazier as needle choices aren’t – excuse the pun – as cut and dry as scissors. *snicker*
I’ll tackle both of these on the same page since they’re so similar and I’ll throw in a bit about hand sewing needles.
I’ll fully admit I don’t know everything about this subject. But I definitely know enough to get you out of the store without screaming and I’ll refer you to a couple of places that do know everything about the subject.
Let’s start with pins ~
Pins are what will help you hold the fabric together when sewing and sometimes, if you’re brave, during fitting. They have long, short, glass, metal, plastic, flat and all sorts between in needles. Threads magazine has a great article on all the different styles, with pictures already laid out and explained better than I could.
For your purpose, while still deciding on whether you like this whole sewing thing, I would recommend you’re standard package of one long and one short plastic ball headed pins before spending big money on the fancier pins. I still use these to this day. Short is nice to stay out-of-the-way and for most projects and the long ones are great for furry projects or stuffed projects. *Do be aware that the heads WILL melt if you iron over them! (But you shouldn’t be ironing over pins anyway – more on that later.)
Keep and eye out for blunt tipped pins. On occasion, you’ll find a pin without the point and it won’t go through the fabric. Don’t force it – toss it!
And NEVER sew over your pins!! I hear of folks who have done this for years and swear by it, but I’ve experienced the machine breaking my pins that I hadn’t gotten out in time or didn’t see and them shooting out at you – glad I wear glasses when I sew! (You never knew sewing could be such a dangerous past time did you!) Not only could you break your sewing needle, jam your feed dogs and possibly mess up the timing of the machine, but you could do serious damage to your eye.
Ok – lecture over.
The mystery of machine sewing needles ~
I know it sounds crazy that this should be such a huge mystery, but if you go and look at all your choices, you’ll see what I mean!
I am going to once again refer you to a great, but a bit overwhelming article in Threads, just to show you all the styles and what their specific uses are. But again, as someone who is just getting their feet wet in sewing. I’m going to say go with Universal needles to start with. I used just these for years and nothing exploded! I will vouch for Jeans/Topstitch needles for your topstitching (the stitching you’ll see – like at the bottom of your jeans) for making the stiches much straighter than the Universals and the Metallics for making my metallic thread break less. But I would suggest you buy these as you need them.
Also make sure the needles are made for your machine. Some needles can go in a variety of machines, while others are specific. I know Singer is one that needs their own needles. (My old treadle machine can only use one type of needle that has to be specially bought. Check with the manual, manufacturer, website or needle packaging if you’re unsure) Don’t try to use needles that don’t belong with your machine, if it can’t accept them – bad things will happen!
Also make sure to change your needle out frequently. While I can’t go as far as Threads and suggest after each project (I’m on a budget after all), I would suggest after every few projects or if you feel it snagging, pulling, pushing or otherwise not sewing smoothly. Your projects, machine, thread and stress level will thank you.
Last, but not least, hand sewing needles ~
You may not intend or even want to, but at some point you’re going to have to do some sort of hand sewing. Even if you end up not enjoying sewing – a button will fall off eventually!
I myself rather enjoy hand sewing and do a lot by hand. You can sit and watch t.v., you can get very detailed and it’s just calming for me. Majority of people I know that sew however do not feel this way. So don’t feel like there is something wrong with you if you’re just not into it – still learn how to at least do the basics though!
Here I’m going to refer to an article in a Threads off-shoot CraftStylish, although I wish they had a few more pictures. But since they laid out the definitions – I can’t complain!
I keep on hand mostly sharps, your basic needle – and a lot of them! I believe the longest? (They come in combo packs so you can try out different sizes and see what’s easiest for you to work with; after that you can buy just that size.) But I do have a few small quilting needles tucked away. If I’m working on a long project I’ll keep the needles pre-threaded and waxed (which I’ll explain along with threads).
Thimbles – trust me, you’ll want at least one. They do come in sizes so make sure to try them on first. (There are various types of these and you can try them all on. But really, you’ll probably just go with the basic, metal thimble.) If you enjoy having feeling in your finger tips, throw one in your cart!
Needle threaders – Not necessary, but they do make your life easier especially for the cost. I think they’re under a dollar and you can use them for machine needles too if your machine doesn’t thread itself.
An empty medication or vitamin bottle – I know, sounds strange. I use these to put my broken, used and discarded pins and needles in so that no one on the receiving end gets a good poke. Your garbage man will thank you; plus there’s no guessing which ones you’ve tossed.
I hope that clears things up a bit on this subject. Either that or I’ve made it worse?