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What numbers and sizes mean on a needle

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Needle Sizing Systems

With the development of many different specialized industrial machines in the 20th century, as many as 4,000 different needle systems were developed with each system being made in up to 15 different sizes. Because there was no standardization, it often happened that the same basic needle type had various designations. In May 1953 a metric size designation under the abbreviation NM was introduced to replace the 40 or so different size designations in use at that time. This “Number Metric” indicates the diameter of the needle blade in hundredths of a millimeter measured above the scarf or the short groove, but not at any reinforced part of the blade. A sewing machine needle with a blade diameter of 0.80 mm therefore corresponds to NM 80 and a needle with a blade diameter of 1.30 mm to NM 130.

In the United States, we commonly see needles labeled with two measurements separated by a slash. The first number is the old Singer needle sizing standard, the second number is the NM designation. A 12/80 needle is simply the same needle measured by two different systems. The general needle system in use for household sewing machines is the system 130/705 H. The international system designation is also 130/705 H (H = Hohlkehle in German, meaning ‘with scarf’). Also, ‘Zwei’ is two and ‘Drei’ is three in German, to explain the ‘ZWI’ and ‘DRI’ in the needle numbering of double and triple needles. Household needles of system 130/705 H all have a flattened shank for perfect positioning of the needle in the needle bar and in relation to the point of the hook. This system of needle fits nearly every machine manufactured for home use in the last forty years.

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  • 4 weeks later...

That PDF is really interesting, it has got saved too.


Many years ago when I were nowt but fields I was a student member of the ASBCI - as I did a technical production degree - one of the benefits of the memebership besides the papers we got sent every month or so, was a special book treat. My choice was one regarding needles - it was the size of a small bible, or collins gem dictionary, I will freely admit, I didn't understand a word of it - all graphs and tables - it lives in some administrators warehouse though no doubt now.


But that PDF is so clear it's being sent to my factory in the morning - so at least they think I keep at least slightly normal hours - I do wonder what they will say though when I start demanding exactly flat straight running stitch though.


Great link!

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