Sewing Machine Needles

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Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
There's a lot of people on here with knowledge of many craft topics. This query isn't bushcraft related but I get the impression that someone on here will be able to help.

I know very little about sewing machines but I work at a place that uses brother clone table, industrial sewing machines. These are probably medium duty industrial and get some hammering since we're not sewing typical fibres but glass fibres even with steel thread at times. We sew into fabrics up to 600gsm occasionally but right now we're sewing into a mesh fabric. This means we're kind of sewing into thin air as much as fabric.

For some reason the needles are snapping a lot more than usual. Sewing machine engineer has the machine set up right and the machine is not the issue he believes.

We use groz-Beckert 135 x 17 nm 130/21 needles. I think I read somewhere that different shape needle ends might help, perhaps more rounded end. These are a good make of needles I believe so quality is also unlikely to be an issue.

Does anyone have any ideas? A long shot here but there's some very knowledgeable people with a very wide knowledge of craft activities. I have a sneaking suspicion posting here will come up with suggestions. If not no harm I think.


Jan 21, 2005
S. Lanarkshire
I'm not terribly familiar with industrial sewing machines, but it's unusual to sew 'just' net. More usual to sew into a folded over edging on net, or fitting it into a surround and stitching through that.

I do know that when I'm sewing net (costumes, tutus, underskirts, and the like) I use a very fine needle and as long a stitch length as I can, or a long narrow zigzag stitch. A normal point though, not ball. It's a pest to sew, it stretches and if I don't get it right it runkles up. If my tension is too high it won't move under the presser foot properly.
If it doesn't move under the presser foot properly that can snarl the needle stroke, maybe that's what's snapping yours' ?

I have sewn the fine net for anti midge headwear too, and it was easier, and I did use a ballpoint needle on that because it was a knitted net. Same with the mesh stuff used to line waterproofs.

If you don't get an answer here, I have a cousin who owns/runs a small clothing factory. They make kit for sailing crews, private schools, shooting teams, that kind of thing. I could ask, if the clothing net is a match for the kind you are using ?

My other suggestion would be to contact one of the companies that make net curtains, because they're the only folks I know of who sew net all the time.
If you type 'made to measure net curtains' into google, you might refine by county near you, it'll come up with dozens of manufacturers.

Sorry Paul, I don't think I'm being of much help.
Did John Fenna not deal with this kind of thing though ? maybe he'll have a better idea.



Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 16, 2019
Vantaa, Finland
Sail makers use some of the strongest needles, fairly big though but I guess that does not matter in this case.


Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
It's a knitted mesh tube and the ends are folded and sewn. Thinking about it there must have been a change somewhere. Things running ok don't just change suddenly. These people have been sewing this product for a few years now on the same machines. The material being stitched is made in house and that process hasn't changed. It must be a change in the machine somewhere.

The machines had an external sewing machine engineer service them a week or so ago. The in house engineer has worked on a couple of machines but not all I think. Although he's got a reputation for fiddling with things he has no idea about. One engineer I know stopped working on our machines because of him!

Oh well! If he's the issue it's going to be him to fix it. At least until he gives up and an engineer is brought in

Thanks everyone. It sounds like he could be on the wrong track with the change in needles.
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Sep 6, 2011
It sounds like the timing is slightly out , could be needle deflection but if they were sewing properly before someone messed with the machine.....
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Mar 24, 2016
middle of france
I think that the material transport must stop just before the needle enters, and is not allowed to move while the needle is in the material, sounds logic, but is often forgotten to check.
If it's not that, try to contact a needle manufacturer, they must be able to help you out to find the best needle for the job?
good luck.


Dec 30, 2019
The only way I perceive a needle snapping is when it doesn't go down the hole in the throat plate, for the needle is the weakest link, it has no where to go it will snap. How it could come to not go down that hole is as if the operator is driving the fabric faster than the drive dogs can transport or the feed dogs aren't doing their job

We run an electric motor driven Singer 99k of 1958 vintage and the needle has snapped but once and when it snapped it was when an other unfamiliar with the machine was first getting to grips with it, where it was because of 'difficulties ' experienced by way of unfamiliarity I had cause to observe the sewing operation from a position 90 degrees to the direction of fabric travel to notice some alarming bends in that needle caused by the unfamiliar operator driving the fabric faster than the feed dogs could transport and my machine despite it's years is in very good shape.

So beyond operator 'enthusiasm' or employer hassle, I would look at the feed dogs and their action with the selected fabric and if the machine has been '' poked about with ', ' I'd also be considering the machine timing as I'm sure the needle snapping problem is a feed-timing issue

Oh and on our 1958 99k we're using 'no name ' needle from the 99p store to be sewing face masks, the earlier of which involved hemming six layers of fabric of which included sewing through dried impact adhesive (Klebfest) and three layers of fusible fabric in addition to three layers of tight weave cotton. Out later iterations are not as heavy in terms of sewing.

I also service and repair my own machine as there is more than enough instruction in doing so out on the web.
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