How to Replace a Needle in a Sewing Machine

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If a sewing needle is broken or becomes dull, it needs to be replaced. Or, you may also need to replace a needle with a special-purpose needle if you are sewing a thick, tough fabric such as leather or denim.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine

  • Small screwdriver (optional)

  • New sewing machine needle

Step 1

Turn off the sewing machine.


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Always turn off the sewing machine before performing any type of maintenance.

Step 2

Raise the needle to its highest position by turning the hand wheel, the large wheel on the side of the sewing machine that moves the needle up and down.

Step 3

Locate the knob for the clamp that holds the sewing needle. Depending on your machine, this knob could be on the right or the left of the needle.


If you are unsure about the placement of the knob, check your sewing machine's instruction manual.

Step 4

Hold the needle with one hand as you turn the clamp knob to the left to loosen the needle. If you find it difficult to turn the knob, insert a small screwdriver into the knob and turn it to loosen.


Most sewing machines come with a screwdriver for this purpose, but you can also use a small screwdriver from your toolbox.

Step 5

When the knob is loosened, the needle should fall out. Discard the needle if it is broken, dull or otherwise damaged. If you are simply replacing it to sew a thicker fabric, put it in a safe place.


Step 6

Examine the new needle. Notice that the back part of the needle is flat. Holding the needle with the flat side in the back, push it into the clamp as far as it will go. If you are having problems getting the needle to fit, turn it to the right or left just a bit as you insert it, noting that the clamp is designed so that only the flat part of the needle will fit in the back.


Step 7

Hold the needle in place with one hand as you use your other hand to tighten the clamp knob. Use the small screwdriver to tighten the clamp knob if necessary.

Step 8

Turn the hand wheel to raise the needle up and down; then use your fingers to wiggle the needle to test its stability. If the needle feels loose, remove it from the clamp and repeat Steps 6 and 7 to insert it once more.


Replacing the Needle in a Serger

To replace the needle in a serger, follow the same steps as for the sewing machine. Note that the placement of the needle clamp may be slightly different than on a regular sewing machine. A serger also has the ability to hold several needles at once, so if you are replacing the needles for a special fabric, then you will need to replace all of the needles on the serger.


Be sure you are choosing the right needles for your serger. Some sergers require special needles while others use the same needles as a sewing machine. Consult your serger's manual if you need extra guidance.

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