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Old Sewing Machine Needles

mgm | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Might seem like an odd question but…  I have several packages of machine needles (unopened) of several different sizes but they are at least 10 years old (some might even date back 20+!!!).  Do you think they would still be suitable to use?



  1. SewTruTerry | | #1

    It depends upon the maker of the needles.  Do you know what brand they are?  Also do you still have the machine that you bought them for?  If either of the answers is yes then you are in luck.  The last but most important question, have you checked the needles for rust?  It may not look like it at first but some do rust and it may be very microscopic at first glance or not look like it at all but if there is some or any rust on them it is best to throw them out and get new ones.  To test for rust try to pin them through some fairly tightly woven fabric if you find difficulties there is no reason to save them.  If you are asking the question because you think there might be a market for "antique" needles I don't think there is.  Good Luck.

    1. mgm | | #2

      The needles are a mixture of Singer and Schmetz brands.  As well as the regular type there are some ballpoint and denim also a couple of twin needles.  They were bought for a Janome which has long since gone (mid 80's).  I'm just getting back into sewing and now have a Bernina 830 which would like to use them with.  Seemed like a bit of a waste to just throw them out.  Thanks for the tip on testing them.  I will try this before putting them into the machine.

      1. carolfresia | | #3

        From what I understand (but I'm not an expert), Singer and Schmetz needles are not the same size; there's a small different in length that can cause damage to your machine at worst, at best, the stitches won't form well. I'll ask around here in the office and see if I can get the real scoop on this, but in the meantime, I'd wait before using them. Needles aren't that expensive, but repairing your machine is!


        1. sewhat | | #9

          I sewed on Singer machines for many years and used both Schmetz and Singer needles with no problems.  I was not even aware of any difference in the length of the needles.  Both types worked well--in fact, the larger needles made by Schmetz worked better for me than Singer's large needles when sewing on heavy fabrics.

      2. carolfresia | | #4

        OK, here's what our resident machine expert tells me: for a Bernina, the Schmetz needles should be just fine. The Singer needles,  however, might be too long. She recommends comparing the two (stand the up back to back to see which is taller); if they're the same length, than you can use them. If the Singer needles are longer, toss them.


        1. SewTruTerry | | #5


          You are right when it comes to the Singer vs Schmetz but the difference is so small that for most people they can not tell without a magnifier of some strength.  Singer needles are a micron longer therefore when you use Schmetz needles in a Singer machine it can not form stitches properly.  I learned the hard way when I had to keep taking my Singer machine in to have "repairs" made when all along it was the needle.

          I don't know what kind of needle her machine takes but I would not take the chance and only use the needle recommended by the dealer.

          1. carolfresia | | #6

            Thanks, Terry. I'd probably do the same--I don' t like to waste things, either, but risking damage to your machine is not worth the few dollars to purchase new needles.


          2. stitchmd | | #7

            I keep reading this in posts on sewing forums, but have never experienced this myself. I have a cheap Singer that I use both Schmetz and Singer needles with. My results are consistent either way. 

        2. mgm | | #8

          The Bernina 830 I have is one of the originals (purchased in 1973).  I've just bought the machine second hand (though I believe there was only one owner before me).  Anyway, it came with the original manual which does not give a specific brand of needle to use only that they must be of "System 705 B" type, with sizes ranging from 60 to 100, size 80 recommended for general sewing.  Having a closer look at the different needles the Singer packets are "705 Ses", the Schmetz are "705 H" and I also found a couple of other brands - Talon and Janome which don't have any system code.

          Luckily I have not started to use the machine yet (I have it scheduled for a service with a Bernina dealer - they can't look at it until 11/14!!!).  I will check with the service person and see what they think.  Though it looks like they will consigned to the trashcan.  Oh well, I also have boxes of thread as old as the needles which I doubt I can use either.

          1. callie1 | | #10

            I also have an old Bernina machine a 707 and they don't make those needles anymore.  However you can use the new Bernina or Schmetz needles with any old Bernina.  The new needles have a deeper cut out behind the eye because the new machines are more precision.  So, you can't use the old needles in a new machine, but you can use the new needles in an old machine.  If your dealer has any old needles tucked away anywhere you may be able to get them for a discount.  I got a pack of 50 needles for $25! 

            I freaked out at first when I found out they quit making the old style of needle, but then my dealer looked into it and explained it to me.  So you don't have to worry about not being able to find needles.

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