No, it isn’t top quality – that’s no secret. 😁 Singer domestic sewing machine needles of type 15×1 (a.k.a. HAx1 or 130/705H) are actually different from needles of the same type made by other manufacturers, both needles of top quality and needles of “great value”.
Here they are – a Singer needle and a different needle. I’m not saying who made it because I have no idea – it’s unbranded. I’ve had it in my box for a while and don’t remember where it came from. It is representative of several common brands, but obviously I didn’t check them all.
Both needles sew perfectly on most machines except my Singer 66K (1906) and Singer 98K (1963) both of which have a side-facing horizontal oscillating hook. On these two Singers the difference is a perfect stitch versus skipping more than sewing. So what’s the problem?
Looking at the two needles above, the first thing you notice is that the scarf is longer on the Singer needle. The scarf is the indentation just above the eye which helps the hook catch the loop.
Here is what happens during sewing. You can see clearly here that the scarf on a Singer needle comes up quite a bit higher at that crucial moment of catching the loop.
But something else is evident too: the Singer needle is rotated counter-clockwise compared to the other needle. This puts the loop further out on the path of the hook and changes the timing. More than that, it also makes a bigger loop and loosens thread twist – all very helpful for catching the loop.
But Singer recommends their needles not only for the machines with the horizontal hook, but for all their machines that take needle type 15×1. Notably, this includes model 15 for which this needle was originally developed (hence the name: 15×1). So what does the needle rotation do for the vertical oscillating hook?
In the original design of Singer 15, the hook catches the loop coming towards the needle from the left. This is the opposite direction compared to the horizontal hook in Singer 66.
Rotating the needle counter-clockwise puts the loop earlier on the path of the hook but still makes a bolder loop because of its orientation. I never noticed any difference in stitch quality between Singer needles and other good needles, so I think it doesn’t really matter for this design.
But then again, it still changes timing. Old Singer 15 machines had a fixed hook timing, that is, the timing was calibrated at the factory and the hook was fixed to the axis with permanent pins rather than removable screws. These machines never needed their timing adjusted because it could not slip (unless you wacked it with a sledgehammer which would effectively put the machine out of business). Obviously, Singer machines were calibrated for Singer needles, and I wonder whether perhaps on some difficult fabrics you would notice the difference.
Singer’s vibrating shuttle machines also use the same 15×1 needles. Here, like in model 15, the shuttle approaches the needle from the left.
Rotating the needle counter-clockwise would throw the loop towards the shuttle and again slightly change the timing. Perhaps something to remember in case of troubles.
On the whole, in my experience only Singer horizontal hook is sensitive to slight needle rotation. It is also not possible to rotate the needle bar in my Singer 66K – thank goodness for that! But from now on I’ll be using Singer needles in all Singer machines, just to be sure. 😊