Choosing the right sewing needle


Yes, there is a difference. Which one to use and for what?

 Curious to why your machine isn’t stitching right or skipping stitches or maybe it just didn’t turn out the way you first intended. You’ve changed the needle, thread, tensions and still doesn’t look right. Winston wants to “point” out a few things you need to know about needles that might help those sewing projects have a better outcome.

 It’s no big secret. Just follow a few guidelines and you ‘ll be fine. A general rule is use a specific needle for certain type fabric in most instances. You are just simply matching or pairing up the type of fabric to the type of needle that works best for that fabric.

 Here are a few basic needles you may use with a particular project:

 Sharp points

These come in varying sizes from the smallest size 9 to the heaviest size 18 and are used with woven fabrics like cotton or linen. These only causing a minimum amount of puckering and produce an even stitch without damaging the fabric. These are not recommended for use with knits as they can cause skipped stitches. Sharp points are more slender through the shaft and should be used when edge stitching on woven fabrics, sewing on finely woven fabrics or heirloom stitching on very fine fabrics. They are also a good choice when sewing with synthetic suede.

Universal Point

 This needle usually comes with your machine. They have a slightly rounded point that is similar to the ball point needle and is used for general. Used for woven or knit fabrics. The needle is tapered so that it slips through the fabric weave of the knit easily while still being sharp enough to pierce the cloth. They come in many different sizes with the 14/90 and the 11/75 being the most popular.

Ball Point

Ball Point needles are made to be used with knit and stretch fabrics. They have a rounded point rather than a sharp one (the larger the size of the needle, the more rounded the needle point) and they push between the fabric yarns rather than piercing them the way the Sharp Points do. The needles should be used when sewing with interlock knits, coarse knits and other fabrics that will run if snagged. The needles come in varying sizes from 9 to 16.


Embroidery needles have a larger needle eye to accommodate the thicker embroidery threads. They are especially made for that type of thread and most have a red mark at top so you’ll know which ones are your embroidery needles.


They have a tapered point that allows you to stitch through several layers of fabric to sandwich in the quilt and across intersecting seams. They have a tapered point to prevent damaging the often heirloom quality fabrics used in quilting. They are generally smaller and stronger than normal needles with a small eye. They come in sizes 9,10,11,and 12.


They are used with heavier topstitching thread and as such have an extra large eye and a deeper groove. They can also be used with a double thread for a more pronounced stitch. Using the correct top stitching needle can make a real difference on how your finished project looks.

Wedge Point

Aren’t as commonly used and are designed for use with leather and vinyl. They easily pierce the fabrics and create a hole that will close back up on itself. The wedge shape makes it a superior needle for piercing tough, unyielding fabrics such as leather or suede. These needles come in varying sizes from 11 to 18. The smaller sizes are suitable for softer leather.The larger sizes are designed for heavy leathers, or multiple layers. You’ll also need to use a different type foot to glide over the fabric like the Teflon foot.

Now, once you decide on your needle type, choose a size that bests suits your project needs:

Remember; it’s just like ordering at a fast food restaurant without the calories. Pick what you want and the size. Keep it simple.


European and American labeling system. Don’t let it confuse you, its just the 2 systems listed on the packaging.

The American system uses 8 to 19, 8 being a fine needle and 19 being a thick heavy needle.

European sizes range from 60 to 120, 60 being a fine needle and 120 being a thick heavy needle.


Fabrics below can be of any fiber, cotton, linen, silk, wool, synthetic, rayon, blends. They are listed as examples of weight.

Machine Needle Type Machine Needle Size

  •  Sheer to lightweight: Batiste, Chiffon, Georgette, Organza, Voile and all microfiber or microdenier fabrics. Regular Point 9/70 or 11/80
  •  Lightweight: Challis, Chambray, Charmeuse, Crepe de Chine, Guaze, Handkerchief Linen, Silk, Taffeta, Tissue Faille. Regular Point 11/80
  •  Medium-weight: Broadcloth, Brocade, Chino, Chintz, Corduroy, Flannel, Linen, Poplin, Satin, Synthetic Suedes, Taffeta, Terry, Velvet Regular Point 14/90
  •  Medium to Heavy-weight: Coating, Damask, Drapery Fabric, Fake Fur, Gabardine, Ticking, Woolens Regular Point 16/100 or 18/110
  •  Denim and Canvas Denim/Jeans 16/100
  •  Sheer to Lightweight Knits: Jersey, Single Knit, Spandex, Tricot Ball Point 10/70 or 12/80
  •  Medium to Heavy-weight Knits: Double Knit, Sweatshirt, Sweater Knit Ball Point 14/90
  •  Specialty Fabrics: Leather, Suede, Buckskin Wedge Point 14/90 or 16/100

 No more fretting over which needle to use. Have a variety on hand and remember to use the correct needle for the job. More important: change your sewing needle often. The old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply to sewing machine needles. They dull within 4-6 hours of normal sewing. Change your needle more often, not just when it breaks. Change it often and your machine motor will last twice as long because its not trying to push a dull needle through fabric. You know how hard it hand sewing with a dull needle. Imagine going at a fast speed using a dull needle.


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