Do hand sewing needles get dull

Do Hand Sewing Needles Get Dull – Long Durability Idea

When you are doing sewing work with a frame and small fabric, the craft is to make the fabric look elevated. Hand sewing needles are mostly used by one person, and often times the fabric is on the thinner end, but they too also lose their sharpness with time. Do hand-sewing needles get dull?

When the needle has been through a lot, there is a lack of that clunk or thud sound, and the needle will get blunt or worn out. When the needles lack that tiny sound, the cue for changing the needle has been given. Apart from friction, the needles might also get worn out due to moisture. So overall, with a dull needle, sewing gets tough, and even the fabric has a chance of snagging.

Key Takeaways

  • The signs of a sewing needle becoming dull are telling, and there are some indicators you should know that mean your needle is dull.
  • Some products increase the sharpness, while other products help lessen friction to make a hand-sewing needle sharp.
  • Usually, the lifespan of a needle can last from about a project or two, depending on the use of the needle.

How can You Tell If Your Sewing Needle is Dull?

There are a lot of ways to identify if your sewing needle is dull or not. This can be seen from just observing the sharp end of the needle. Or, you can observe the dullness of the needle when you are trying to sew and find that it is not sewing properly.

How can you tell if your sewing needle is dull
How can you tell if your sewing needle is dull

Here are some of the ways that can help you know if your hand sewing needle is dull or not:


A hand needle should be easy to penetrate through the fabric. But when the needle feels like it is dragging around the fabric, the chances are high that your needle is dull. The needles should be sharp and edgy, not slow and steady.


The next symptom to understand from a dull needle is when you have resistance against the fabric. A blunt or dull needle will only make the work tougher over time. The resistance in poking the fabric and also when pinching it would mostly be the sign of a blunt needle. The work gets harder, and you mostly struggle with the overall process.

Snagging or Puckering

When you are sewing with needles, the threads have to be smooth. But dull needles might make the hole uneven which causes the thread to not pass smoothly through the sewing hole you have made. They tend to cause snagging on the fabric. Seam puckering is also a symptom of a dull needle.

The Appearance of the Stitches

Another way to find out whether the needles are dull or not is by considering the skipped stitches as well as the thread shedding. You can definitely notice the dullness of the needles from the puckered seam, as well as the unevenness of the seam.

Smell of Sewing Needle

Most of the needles are plated. When the edge is blunt, or they have a rustic smell, the chances are high that the plating has eroded. The friction of the hand, sweat, and oils would most likely make the needle dull.

How do I Keep the Hand Sewing Needles Sharp?

The best way to keep the hand needles sharp is by using different methods, but there are several ways that you can keep the needle sharp before actually sharpening the needle. Most of the needles are saved from dulling by a few methods, and they will help you get the best results. With such methods, you’ll be able to get the results without delaying the performance of the needle. And thus, you don’t even have to replace or sharpen the needle that often.


Well, this might be an old-fashioned way of getting rid of the dullness from the needles. So here, you can only go with the tip of the needle. Hold the needle on the candle for a few minutes until the tip of the needle has turned red. The metal used for the plating would determine the time needed for the metal to heat up. Let the needle cool down for a bit, and then sharpen the tip of the needle. Make sure to stroke every side of the needle. Try the candle method a few times and test the needles with the fabric.


Soap Bar

And the second part would be useful when you use a soap bar for the sewing needle. This method of work would be best for hand-sewing needles as well as machine-sewing needles. You minimize the friction of the needle and prevent it from becoming blunt.

Soap bar
Soap bar

Coconut Oil

When you do not have any kind of sharpener around you, the best way to lessen the friction would be by using a slippery ingredient. And in this case, we recommend coconut oils. Machine oils would leave a mark on the fabric. But the coconut oil would make the needle glide smoothly. You can just dip the tip of the needle in the coconut oil and penetrate it easily through the fabric.

Coconut oil
Coconut oil


Emery is a greyish-black substance that is used as an abrasive to sharpen objects. Most of the emery is made from aluminum oxide, magnetite, or iron oxides. Thus, these products are also used for polishing. And inside a pin cushion such as the Strawberry Emery, it can help keep a sewing needle sharp after it has been used.


Steel Wool

Again you can use a steel tool instead of using an emery. They can definitely be used with the pincushion and are used in the same way as the emery. For the steel wool, you have to run the needle through rather than dragging it around the surface.

Steel wool
Steel wool


Again, like emery, the sandpaper would also work for the dull needle. Try to use the rough side of the needle to get the best results, and make sure to run the needle back and forth to get the best results. Sandpapers are available, and they work fine with every size of a needle.


How Long do Hand Sewing Needles Last?

Well, this might be one of the most rapid questions asked when you seem to be bothered by a dull needle. And the amount of time a sewing needle will last would hugely depend on how the needle makes a difference. For example, some of the sewing needles would last longer, and some might last a lifetime (when they are not used at all). But mostly, a sewing needle will last through eight hours of use.

How Long do hand-sewing needles last
How Long do hand-sewing needles last

Here are some facts about the sewing needle and how long it will last:

  1. Firstly, the time used while sewing would determine the amount of time for the needle to thrive. A sewing needle would last for 8 hours of constant sewing. So you have to sharpen or replace the needle within 8 hours.
  2. The bobbins used during the sewing would also help you understand the sharpness of the hand-sewing needle. The sewing needle would last for 2 to 3 full bobbins, and after that, it wouldn’t be as efficient. So by the amount of thread used in two or three full bobbins later, a change of needle is important.
  3. The type of fabric is another thing to consider when you are considering the lifespan of the sewing needle. Heavy fabrics like fleece, leather, and wool are harder to penetrate, and the chances of the sewing needle becoming dull due to the resistance are high. The more resistance, the chances of a dull needle is higher.
  4. And lastly, the struggle would also determine when to change the sewing needle. For example, when you finish a huge project, and you certainly get through it after using one needle without sharpening it, it’s better to change the needle for another project. You might just end up struggling a lot with the next work due to a dull needle.


How long do hand-sewing needles last?

The hanging sewing needle will last for 8 hours of sewing or for two to three full bobbin thread lengths.

When should I replace my hand-sewing needle?

When you are struggling to get the needle to poke and pass down the fabric, change the hand-sewing needle and sharpen it.

Final Thoughts

Sharpening a dull needle might be the best way when you are looking for a budget-friendly option. Needle sharpeners are different than knife sharpeners. Apart from the usual shaping, you might also want to do a good cleaning of the needles regularly. Using soap on the needles is another way to get the results, as they allow you to sew the needles easily. The soap would make the needles slippery, and they will allow less friction. But at all costs, try to avoid using a dull needle. With such needles, the chances of you getting uneven work, damaged fabric, and tedious work might be very high. So when you are trying to do a perfect job with the needlework, get a sharp needle by repurposing and sharpening your current needle.


Hey I’m Sherry Howes an expert in sewing, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery. With a passion for fiber arts and a talent for crafting, I Have spent years improving my skills and sharing knowledge with others. Whether teaching a class or creating a new project, I’m always excited to share my love of crafting with the world. I like researching new techniques and trends in the crafting arts community.

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