If you have a serger (overlocker) or coverstitch machine, there’s a good chance you are familiar with ELx705 needles. There’s also a good chance you’ve heard misinformation about them.
I commonly hear that they are ‘extra-long’, and see people warn of catastrophic damage just waiting to happen if you use a Universal home sewing machine needle (130/705 H) when your machine specifies ELx705. Neither of these has any merit.
I am blessed to have my grandmother’s machines, one of which is an Elna Lock Pro 5dc. I also have a Janome Coverpro 2000cpx, both of which specify ELx705 needles. The Pro 5dc is from the early ‘90s and I have the original manual and workbook for it. The information in those two books made me question what I was hearing about these needles.
I learned that ELx705 needles were originally made by Schmetz for Elna. That’s right, the ‘EL’ stood for ‘Elna Lock’. Not only that, but my manual has this statement “[ELx705 needles] are needles for domestic use and can also be used with all ordinary household sewing machines.”
So I reached out to one of the major needle companies, and they confirmed that the main measurements of ELx705 needles and Universal needles are the same; they are not extra long. The only difference is that ELx705 needles have a second long groove that aids in forming chain stitches. The two grooves work together to efficiently pull the thread up and form loops. They also confirmed that Universal needles will not harm machines that specify ELx705. The only adverse effects you would encounter are skipped stitches. (No small frustration when it happens!) They also confirmed the statement in my serger manual about the ability to use ELx705 instead of a Universal needle in a sewing machine.
I will always tell you to use the needles your machine indicates, but in the case of ELx705 and Universal needles, it is not because damage could occur. With these, it comes down to design, that second groove. But isn’t nice to know that in a pinch you can use them interchangeably?