How to Sunday - Choose between your sewing machine needles {Sewing}

Sunday, 23 June 2013

I have found various sewing machine needles in different corners of my house - I try to be organised, and usually put things in the right place, one that is SO logical.. at the time... and inevitably I cannot find them when I want them. So I have started a bit of a collection. Except that until recently I was not really sure what I had - or more precisely what the numbers meant - I got away with it until I started sewing clothes.

Using a large needle on delicate fabric, for example, will cause visible holes - not a good look - and may cause problems such as the needle shoving the fabric down into the bobbin casing - arrghh . You might also find that the stitches slip - and your project.. well.. you can start again!

On the other hand, using a small needle on heavy fabrics can cause problems such as the needle breaking under the pressure - how many times did that happen to you?


Sewing machine needles come in different sizes. Confusingly, two systems of naming the sizes run side by side: imperial sizes go from 8 to 19 - 8 being a fine needle and 19 being a thick heavy needle, metric sizes from 60 to 120 - 60 being a fine needle and 120 being a thick heavy needle.

All my packs - except the French one - are marked with both the imperial and metric sizes.

I was so happy to find that table!! Source


There's a wide range of needle types to choose from, depending on what you're sewing:

Universal - The needle's point is slightly rounded for use with knit fabrics, but sharp enough to pierce woven fabrics
Denim/jeans - This type of needle has an extra-sharp point and stiff shank, which makes it suitable for stitching denim, heavy imitation leather or other densely woven fabrics
Ballpoint - This needle has a blunt, rounded tip that slips between fibres rather than piercing them. Use this needle for sewing coarse knits, lycra and other fabrics that tend to run if you snag them
Twin needle - Twin needles are constructed with two shafts on a crossbar which extends from a single shank. They're ideal to use for decorative stitching and creating multiple, uniform stitching rows. Two numbers are listed on the packaging; the first number represents the distance between the needles and the second number is the metric needle size. (More on threading a twin needle here)


In addition yo the difference in the shapes of the point the needle eye changes as well, and choosing the correct one for your projects depends on the type of fabric or the thread being used.


Changing the needle on your sewing machine (like now!). Needles can blunt quite quickly, especially if you're sewing synthetic fabrics. Blunt needles will not only damage the fibres in your fabric, possibly snagging it, but will also cause skipped stitches and occasionally puckering.

Always test your thread and fabric combination on scraps of fabric rather than the item you are working on. In my case it is as much to see if the needle is appropriate as to see if my machine is well threaded.


  1. very informative! off to change my needle :)

  2. Very useful information, I’ll check my needles. Thank you Nat!

  3. Thank you for sharing this info. Very helpful. I think at least I tend to not change the needle often enough.

  4. Brilliant explanation - I recently bought some Denim and some Ballpoint needles as I knew if I wanted to keep dressmaking I would have to expand my repertoire!

  5. Ooooh! So helpful. I love that table - bookmarking this!!!! Thank you!!!

  6. Very useful info Nat, thank you! I like to share it on my Pinterest Board.

  7. How weird, I went down to my LQS yesterday to sort out my machine needles! Great post

  8. I found this post interesting even though I'm not a sewer.

  9. For my Pfaff I use needles that come in packages of 6 needles, two of each number: 7 (!), 8, 9. Maybe it also depends on the brand of the machine?
    7 is the finest here. I mostly use 8 for piecing quilts.

  10. Being a "scrooge", I always keep a couple of old needles in a grip-seal bag, and then use them for things I know are going to blunt a good needle really fast, like pricking the holes for paper-piecing, sewing towelling, or joining strips of wadding.

  11. Love the little table - thanks for that. I always forget what's what, this is brilliant :)

  12. Oh gosh...I never knew any of this..thanks, think I need a jeans needle now.

  13. This is really informative! Thank you! Now... I wish someone could organise my needles for me...

  14. Lots of great info. Thanks for sharing!