Saturday, April 24, 2010

Titanium Top Stitch Needles – Product Review

Just tried the new Titanium Topstitch needles... and my consensus? Awesome!!!

I love Topstitch needles, they've been around for years and have made my sewing so much more easy and fun. I just recently discovered that if you blog and are the type of person who raves about a product to all and sundry when you love it, that people occasionally send you free stuff to test out :) How cool is that??!

I use Topstitch needles for about 90% of my decorative work. They were recommended to me a few years ago when I'd just started sewing and was having a horrible time with threads breaking and shredding.
One of my works using metallic and specialty threads with a Topstitch needle.

It probably didn't help that I love specialty threads like metallics and holographic foils. I use rayons a lot too because of their sheen, and they're not the strongest of threads. Using the Topstitch needles really helped and I seldom get a breakage anymore.

A couple of weeks ago I was making fabric postcards for the very first time. I used Fast2Fuse for my middle as it made a nice firm base and being fusible both sides I could just iron my fabrics straight on. I fused shapes with Heat & Bond Ultra over the backing fabric as I didn't want to have to sew around everything. This version of fusible web isn't recommended for stitching, but it is strong enough to use for applique that you can throw in the washing machine even without it.

My needle gummed up (lots), my bobbin thread (Bottom Line which I love!) broke every couple of inches, my top thread shredded and snapped. All I was trying to do was a plain straight stitch!! On top of this there was a nasty scratchy sound every time the needle went through the card. Admittedly what I was sewing through was asking a bit much of even the best sewing machine.

I mentioned my troubles on a web based sewing group and next thing I new had a little package on my doorstep of Titanium coated Topstitch needles to try thanks to Judy Hall from Punch with Judy.

I just tried them out on the same swear-inducing postcards of the other week and everything sewed perfectly!!!

It wasn't even a fair test as I used freemotion sewing (so even more pull on the thread, especially with how I change direction a lot).

I picked the most troublesome card first (below) - it has layers of curtain block out lining, Fast2Fuse (super thick stabiliser used for bowl construction etc), cotton fabrics fused with the very thick Heat & Bond Ultra, metal leaf flakes and then the whole thing is laminated behind another layer of Heat & Bond Ultra.
The new Titanium Topstitch needles sewed the circle part of this with gold thread without a single break!! So impressed as this card is thick and coated with dense fusible web. The straight stitching had kept breaking and breaking with traditional Topstitch needles.

I used King Tut in the bobbin and Madeira metallic in the top and it sewed perfectly! My needle did still gum up a little - but about a quarter of what it did using the normal needles. I was stoked so thought I'd up the ante.

I put in the Bottom Line bobbin i'd had so much trouble with the other day and tried again. Remember I said it was breaking with a straight stitch every couple of inches? Well with the Titanium Topstitch needle is was perfect. I was still using gold in the top and sewed a small heart going over my lines of stitching 5 times in a row to really test it out.

 The tech specs:  

All Topstich needles have:

A much larger eye. This cuts down on friction on the thread as it's got more room to move, and that means less breaking or shredding.

 A longer / deeper groove that runs down the length of the needle to guide the thread, again less wear and tear on the thread.

 A sharp point.

Titanium Topstitch needles:

 Last longer - 5 to 8 times longer according to what i've read on the web. That's 40 to 60 hours compared to 8 for a normal needle.

 I haven't read anything to back this up, but my own experience shows they gum up less when using fusible web.

 Are better for very thick or multi layered stitching like my pieces above.

 Cost about $4 more a pack, but given the extra hours they last you should still save 80% on the cost of needles. (I stole that stat from the Titanium topstich needle page on Judy's website).

So after my experiment it seems I picked a good time to run out of the normal Topstitch needles and will stock up at Judy's stand at the AQC in Melbourne next week. Hmmmm maybe that was the plan all along....



  1. Thank you Neroli. A very professional appraisal. You could easily work for one of the magazine companies as a "trial-a-product" person. But then, I'm biased as I've always appreciated your expertise. Well done. Thankful for the exposure too but I was very confident the new Superior Titanium Topstitch Needles would rise to the occasion of your extreme sewing antics. Love it, Judy Hall,

  2. Interesting. I just recently heard of topstitch needles and now they seem to be popping up everywhere.

  3. I don't know why Topstitch needles aren't more well know. I have found them hard to buy in most conventional fabric shops, and only some of the patchwork fabric or sewing stores i've been to have them to.

    I did hear on Quilting Arts TV that 80 or 90% of professional quilters use them, so not sure why they have taken so long to filter down to everyone else. A bit of a pity as they make life so much easier.

    I just got an email from a reader who mentioned that 'Superior Threads' is the only brand to have started making them for the domestic machine, they've been out for awhile for industrial type machines.

  4. They sound great where can i buy them xx

  5. You can buy them online from Punch with Judy – the topstitch needle page is here:

    (there's a direct clickable on the link in the specs section too where it says 'borrowed this stat from Judy's Topstich needle page on her website'.)

    I had a comment come in by email last night from Julie's Superior Threads saying that they sold them too, so there must be a few sellers around now.

  6. Interesting post Neroli. Thanks, Ann :)

  7. Thanks Ann! Got an email in last night that mentioned the TItanium versions have been out since April 2009, so its a pity i've taken this long to try them.

    You can also purchase them from The Thread studio:

  8. i've never heard of them but they sound brilliant! thanks for the review, neroli - i'll keep my eye out for them and give them a try