All you need to know about needles for your sewing machine

Although most people who start in the world of sewing prefer to start with universal needles because of their versatility in applications and compatibility, when you start experimenting with different fabrics and stitches, you will need to use something more specific.

Not knowing how to choose the right needles can cause problems in your sewing, from damaging the fabric or the thread to breaking the needle itself.

Choosing the right needle can be a challenge, so in Creator Studio we have taken the task of explaining what are the characteristics of the different needles and some tips that will help you when choosing the needle you need.

However, you can always approach our specialist in sewing and embroidery machines in Creator Studio, who will help you choose the materials and tools you need.

First of all: the anatomy of the needle

The needle has several parts that, together, perform the task of sewing. Each of these parts plays a different role. Hereby there is an explanation of each part of the needle of any sewing machine:

  • Beginning of the line: Part where the needle starts and is placed on the machine handle.
  • End: It is placed on the needle bar. It is cylindrical in industrial sewing machines and, in some sewing machines, it has a flat side.
  • Needle type: Needle of the mechanical family of the industrial family.
  • Needle thickness: They are listed by the thickness they have, 9,10,11 (thin fabrics) 12,14 (normal fabrics) 16 and 18 (denim or thick knitted fabrics) 20, and 24 (upholstery and carpets).
  • Shank: The term 'shank' describes the part of the needle between the end of the cone and the beginning of the eye. Again, there are different shapes, depending on the type of manufacture.
  • Long Groove: The long groove runs from the end of the taper to the beginning of the needle eye. It is directed in the threading direction and most cases have the same width as the needle eye. This groove protects the thread against excessive friction during the insertion of the needle into the sewing material.
  • Rabbet: The rabbet is a cavity located in the needle, which allows the looper to move unimpeded and the loop to be taken up correctly. The depth of the rabbet is defined as the distance between the diameter of the shank and the deepest area of the rabbet.
  • Eye: The eye is the opening in the needle shank into which the thread is threaded. Since the thread slides through the eye 40-70 times until it is sewn into the sewing material, it is necessary that the beginning and the end of the eye, as well as its sides, are well rounded and polished.
  • Point and point end: Extends from the beginning of the eye to the end of the needle. It can be in a central or eccentric position.

Needle types for your sewing machine

They vary according to their complexity, thickness/size, or type.

According to their complexity

  • Simple needles: single stitch needles are the simplest and most common. Below we explain what types you can find according to their stitch.
  • Double needles: two stitches, for more specific or decorative tasks. It can be used to sew knitted fabric or trouser bottoms.
  • You can find double needles with different degrees of separation. The further apart they are, the further apart the stitching will be.
  • Triple needles: three stitches, for decorative stitches only. They are very rare to see in sewing machines.

According to the point

  • Sharp Round Point: it does not cause damage to the densest fabrics, microfiber, coated materials, shirt cuffs... Its stitches are very straight and help to minimize puckering in the seam.
  • Normal Round Point Needle: used for normal fabrics with standard seams (pushes the thread to one side).
  • Small Ball Point: used for sewing lightweight fabrics. It is sometimes used on high-density fabrics to avoid damaging the material.
  • Medium Ball Point: used for sewing medium-weight fabric. Sometimes used for medium-weight denim.
  • Large Ball Point: used for sewing thick fabrics and dense stretch fabrics.
  • Special Ball Point: used for sewing thick fabrics and medium thickness elastic materials with elastomeric thread cover.

According to thickness and size

The needles are usually classified with two numbers: the larger one corresponds to the European size and the smaller one to the American size. These ratings indicate the thickness of the needle. For example, a classification of 80 EU means that the needle is 0.8 mm.

The European numbering goes from #65 to #120, while the American (also called Japanese) numbering goes from #8 to #20. Therefore, this numbering starts with the thinner needles and ends with the thicker ones.

You can follow a simple rule: The needle size varies proportionally with the thickness of the fabric.

  • 60 (EU)/ 8 (USA): this is the thinnest needle you can find on the market. It is perfect for very fine or delicate materials such as silk.
  • 65/9 to 70/10: for fine fabrics such as cotton.
  • 75/11 to 90/14: for all types of fabrics with a medium thickness.
  • 100/16: thick fabrics.
  • 110/18: perfect for denim (you can also find special needles for this task) or upholstery.
  • 120/20: used for thicker fabrics.

Accordin to the type

Universal Needle     

These needles have a slightly rounded tip and are used for sewing knitted fabrics. As a recommendation, try to have a few universal needles of different sizes to sew all kinds of fabric thicknesses.

They range from No. 65 to No. 120:

  • Light thickness fabrics (65/9 and 75/11): used for blouses, shirts, crepe, muslin, chiffon, tricot, veil...
  • Medium thickness fabrics (75/11 and 90/14): used for cotton, linen, flannel, corduroy, bed linen, percale...
  • Thick fabrics (90/14 and 100/16): used for jeans, coats, curtains, canvas, gabardine...

Stretch (130/705 H-S)      

It has a medium ballpoint. With the special section of the eye and the recess, it avoids false stitches. It is used for highly elastic or synthetic knitted fabrics such as curtains, stocking stitches, knitted fabrics (pullovers), lycra. It is available in thickness Nº75 and Nº90.

Pullover (13/705 H-SUK) 

Has a medium rounded ballpoint to penetrate tougher fabrics without damaging the material. It is also used for sewing knit fabrics. It is available in thicknesses from #70 to #110.

Embroidery (130/705 H-E)         

Small ballpoint, polished throat, and wide eye for thick threads such as wool. It is available in thicknesses from #75 and #90.

Embroidery Gold (130/705 H-ET)          

It has a small ballpoint with a larger eyelet. Its titanium nitrate finish gives it extra strength for heavy stitch work. Used for embroidery, thick and dense fabrics. It is available in #75 and #90 thicknesses.

Jeans (130/705 H-J)          

It has a very fine and specially shaped chrome tip. Its stem is much thicker to minimize needle deflection. This prevents breakage and false stitches. It is used for sewing canvas, cord, denim, plastic sheeting, and hard fabrics. It is available in thicknesses from #90 to #110.

Leather (130/705 H-LL)   

Has a sharp point for easy penetration of leather. It is used for sewing leather, artificial leather, vinyl. It is available in thicknesses from #80 to #100.

Quilting (130/705 H-Q)    

It has a particularly thin and rounded tip to penetrate thicker layers without damaging them. It is used in backstitching works such as Patchwork or Quilting. It is available in thicknesses of #75 and #90.

Microtex (130/705 H-M)  

It has a very thin and fine tip to penetrate very thin or dense fabrics. It is used for sewing silk, microfiber and is available in thicknesses from #60 to #80.

Metallic (130 MET)  

Its eye is particularly long (2 mm). Especially for metallic threads or decorative threads. It is available in thicknesses from Nº80 and Nº90.

Topstitch (130 N)   

Its eye is as long as the previous one (2 mm). It is used for ornamentation and embroidery works and it is available in thicknesses from Nº80 to Nº100.

Hemstitch (130/705 H-Wing)      

Its trunk is thicker than normal and has fins that push the fabric to one side. It is used for trimming work on loosely woven fabrics and it is available in #100 and #120 thicknesses.

Quick Threading (705 HDK)        

Although this needle is universal, it has a specific task. To achieve easy threading utilizing its small groove on the side of the eye. It is available in thicknesses of #80 and #90.

Double Eye (705 DE)         

Double-eye needle. Used for ornamental work with decorative threads. It is available in Nº80 thickness.

Knitting types and needles

Below is a table with the types of fabrics and needles that would work best for each type.

Fabrics Needles

  • Coats, Universal fleece 90-120
  • Ajour, Jersey dresses 70-90
  • Coarse cotton, casual wear Universal 80-100
  • Batiste, Microtex cashmere 70-90
  • Embroidery Spring needle 80
  • Gold needle 75 or 90
  • Brocade Universal 60-90
  • Microtex 60-90
  • Needlework Needle for openwork 100-120
  • Shirts Universal 70-80
  • Universal chambray 70-80
  • Chenille Universal 90

Final Tips

  1. Before starting the task, it is a good idea to check your inventory. The needles for your sewing machine should be in good condition to prevent future problems. They mustn't be bent or blunt. If your needle is in bad condition, do not hesitate to throw it away.
  2. Also, check that the thread passes perfectly through the eye of the needle. There are sewing machines that will help you with this task. Make sure that the needle is pushed all the way through.
  3. Choose the needle that best suits the work to be done. Each needle works well for one material and poorly for others.
  4. Check that, once inserted in the machine, the needle has no contact with other parts. To do this, turn the handwheel of the machine and check it.

We know that there are many more types of needles and characteristics to analyze, but we hope that you find this article useful. Don't forget to approach our Creator Studio specialist if you have any doubts, we can surely help you choose what you need.

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