Needle Plate

QuiltNotes Learning Center

Last Updated June 15, 2018
needle plate throat plate 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 below.

In this article you will learn about the differences in these plates and why you might want to have both of them on hand.

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 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.

Straight stitch needle plate

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  Sewing Machines Plus to have one for your machine delivered straight to you.

Video Transcript

These are two plates for the same machine. Now they look exactly the same, but there’s one big difference. Here I’ve zoomed into this one. The needle goes into the plate here. This is 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 is a zig zag plate. You’ll see it has a nice big slit in it. That slit accommodates 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. The zig zag plate has a wide opening. This is a straight stitch plate.


First we see the fabric stays on top of the small slit.  Let’s take this piece of fabric. 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.

Fabric is pushed into the larger slit. 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.


I only use the zig zag plate when I’m doing zig zag or decorative stitches. For me is not that often. 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 Janome 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.  Fabric catches in the zig zag plate.

In summary, I use the straight stitch plate when straight stitching. Use the zig zag plate when stitching decorative stitches and/or zig zag stitches.

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