The needle plate, sometimes called the throat plate, covers the area near the needle. There are 2 commonly used needle plates: the zig zag plate and the straight stitch plate shown here. The straight stitch plate has a single hole for the needle to enter the fabric and is used for straight stitching only.
The zig zag needle plate is used for zig zag stitching as well as other decorative stitching that requires the needle to stitch from side to side. The zig zag needle plate has a wide slit to accommodate the various needle positions.
Needle Plate Options
Often the only needle plate included in a machine purchase is the zig zag needle plate because it can be used for decorative stitching and straight stitching. For regular straight stitching, it is best to use the straight stitch needle plate because it is less likely the needle will push the fabric into the needle plate. If you are having trouble with the fabric catching at the beginning of stitching and you are stitching a straight stitch, try changing the needle plate from the zig zag needle plate to the straight stitch needle plate.
The video below explains the difference between the needle plates.
Find Your Needle Plate
Want to find a straight stitch needle plate for your machine? Check with your local dealer or click on Needle Plates at Sewing Machines Plus to have one for your machine delivered straight to you.
These are two needle plates for the same machine. Now they look exactly the same, but there's one big difference. Here I've zoomed into this one. We're looking at where the needle goes into the plate because this is called the needle plate. And you'll see this one has two holes. It's got one here and a little bit bigger one over here. This machine can offset. It can stitch right here in this middle point or it can stitch over to the left hand side.
Now look at this one. This one is called a zig zag plate and you'll see it has a nice big slit in it and that's to accommodate all the decorative stitches and the zig zag stitches where the needle has to go back and forth. This is where you set the width of the stitch. So this is called a zig zag plate and this is called a straight stitch plate.
I'll show you how your fabric gets caught in one of these. Let's take this piece of fabric and if we put it here, I put this on top of it and place it into the hole, you'll see the fabric pretty much stays on the top. Well this is what happens when the needle goes into the hole. And now let's look at this one. We see we have a much bigger area here for the fabric to go inside so if I put it on the edge, you'll see how the fabric goes into the hole. And this is what happens when you stitch with the zig zag needle plate.
So what I do, I only use the zig zag plate when I'm doing zig zag or decorative stitches which for me is not that often. So most of the time I use my straight stitch plate for all of my straight stitching.
Most machines come with just the zig zag plate as this one did. This is my Jamone 3160. It comes with a zig zag plate because you can use that for everything. I had to buy separately, the straight stitch plate because I straight stitch more often and I was tired of everything getting caught in the zig zag plate.