For every quilter there exists a needle for machine quilti23333333ng that works. For Leah Day over at The Freemotion Quilting Project she likes the 80/12 universal needle. She has her reasons and this needle works for her and the thread she uses as she quilts.
Diane Gaudynski uses a 70/10 needle with the silk thread she uses. Because she uses silk thread this makes perfect sense as the thread is very fine and the hole made by the needle needs to be fine. A 90/14 Top Stitch needle would make a hole so large the thread couldn’t fill it, when held up to the light the would shine through casting beautifully annoying rays of sunshine through the amazing beauty of the quilt.
Sharon Schamber uses embroidery needles and has a very good explanation why – because of how they’re hardened and are durable and can take the heat of the friction produced from the movement of the needle through the fabric, essentially lasting longer.
Teri Lucas, well she uses a variety of needles for a variety of reasons. I tend toward 70/10, 80/12 and 90/14 Top Stitching and Microtex needles. Why? Well, I use a variety of thread. Using one needle size and type doesn’t quite work for me. I use a needle that works best for the weight of thread I have in the machine as I’m quilting. This sometimes becomes a little bit challenging when I’m using a variety of weights on the same quilt however I’m game for changing needles as much as I’m game for changing threads.
Today is a case in point I spent 3 hours playing on the Bernina 830. The gal instructing me had a universal needle in the machine. While I stitched with the Isacord this thread & needle pairing worked very well. At some point I switched to King Tut.
The thread kept popping up on the surface of the quilt. While this can be a tension issue, in this case it was a needle issue. I changed needles to a 90/14 top stitch needle and voila no more thread popping on the surface. I like the different threads and how they play on the surface of the quilt and therefore need to make adjustments accordingly, this includes needle size and tension on the upper and bobbin area’s of the machine.
Every quilter needs to find what works for the thread you’re using and your quilting style. As you practice try a variety of needles to go with the thread you’re using. When I teach I have the students use top stitching needles because they’re appropriate to the size thread we’re using.
The machine quilting process is 60% mechanical and 40% practice. The mechanics make a difference, the better understanding of the mechanics from the tension to the needles & your posture the easier the practice will be come.