Thursday, October 09, 2008

More on Needles

There are four vintage Singer sewing machines that use needles that are slightly different than the standard 15x1 needle used in 99.9% of all home sewing machines. The models are Singer's first domestic zig zag machine, the 206 and its successors, the 306, 319, and the rare free arm 320. The correct needles for these models is the 206x13. Here is a photo of a 206x13 needle (on the top) and a 15x1 needle (on the bottom):

The first thing to notice is that the two needles are the same length from top to the eye. This means that you could insert a 15x1 needle in a 206/306/319 and the machine will sew, because the hook-to-eye timing is identical. However, it is obvious that the point of the 206x13 is much shorter than the 15x1. What happens if you sew with a 15x1 needle in a 206/306/319 is this:

The point of the longer needle strikes the bobbin case and damages both the bobbin case and the needle. Surprisingly to me, you cannot hear the needle strike the bobbin case, so you don't even realize what is happening until you change the bobbin.

The other problem with using the wrong needle is that, because the point is longer, the needle could be still in the fabric when the feed dog begins to move the fabric. This can mean skipped stitches, puckering, and possibly a bent or broken needle. I can see no problem with using a 206x13 needle in a machine designed for a 15x1 needle, except that the 206x13s are considerably more expensive.

For those who like the 306 Class machines, I will try to keep a stock of 206x13 needles in my Etsy Shop, just click on the link below.

206x13 Needles

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