There is a lot of fantastic engineering behind the design of a needle. We won’t cover that all that engineering here.

Let’s start with some needle basics:
#1: Always use a good quality needle. I am partial to Schmetz needles, but there are other great brands out there.

#2: Fine fabrics should be sewn with fine or small needles. Heavier fabrics with heavier needles. Using a 90/14 on fine fabrics is like driving a nail into the weave of the fabric. Using a 70/10 or 60/8 needle on heavy fabric will cause needle and thread breaks.

#3: Using the right size needle is important, but using the right needle for the fabric type is also important.

Do you have to use the right needle? Well – no – but – it will help speed your sewing along and give you better results. Also using the wrong size or type of needle can damage fabric.

#4: Remember to change the needle. The average sew, serge and embroidery time before a needle change is needed is 8 hours. Another way  –  change your needle after every 3 full bobbins used or every 2 pre-wound bobbins used.

Replacing your needle is an inexpensive way to prevent broken or shredded threads, skipped stitches, puckered or snagged fabrics, uneven threads, needle hitting machine plate or bobbin case and lots of frustration.

Needle Types

Universal Ball Point Needle

Used for woven fabrics and loose knits such as velour. Can cause slightly “wiggly” straight stitches, but great for seam work. These needles come in sizes 60/8 to 120/19

Rounded Ball Point Needle

Used for knits and fabrics that may snag. A ball point needle slips between the fibers and prevents snagging or other damage to the fabric. These needles comes in sizes 70/10 to 100/16.

Sharp Needle (Microtex)

These needles have a very sharp point for perfectly straight stitches. These are used for top stitching, or edge stitching on silk, microfiber fabrics, foils, artificial leather and coated materials. This needle creates beautiful topstitching and perfectly straight stitches for quilt piecing. These needles come in sizes 60/8 to 90/14.

Stretch Needle

These needles have a special construction and are used with lightweight knits such as spandex or lycra and help decrease skipped stitches. These needles come in sizes 75/11 to 90/14. You may also find them in a twin needle.

Top Stitching Needle

These needles are extra sharp with an enlarged groove to handle dense fabrics and  heavier decorative with less thread breakage.  They come in sizes 75/11 to 100/16 generally.

Jersey Ball Point Needle

Designed for sewing on knits and some stretch fabrics. They come in sizes 70/10, to 100/16.

Leather Needle

Created for leather, artificial leather and heavy non-woven synthetic applications. These needles have a wedge point to pierce, not tear the leather. These needles come in sizes 80/12 through 110/18

Denim Needle

Designed with a triangular point and are used for penetrating extra thick woven fabrics, denims, or quilts with minimum needle deflection, reduced risk of needle breakage and skipped stitches.These needles come in sizes 10/70 to 110/18. You can also find these in a Twin needle.

Quilting Needle

Special taper to shaft and slightly rounded point to prevent damage to material sewn in layers. Made especially for piecing and machine quilting. The special tapered design allows easier fabric penetration and helps eliminate skipped stitches. Available sizes: 75/11 and 90/14.

Professional Quilting Needle

Used with straight stitch only machines. These are designed for high-speed semi-professional quilting machines (i.e., Janome 1600 P series, Juki 2010, etc.). This needle features a short shank,  a slightly rounded needle point with a thinner shank diameter.  Suitable for materials – jersey, denim, fancy fabrics, fake fur, etc. Available in sizes 75/11 to 100/16

Embroidery Machine Needle

Generally used with specialty threads, such as rayon machine embroidery thread. This is used for computerized machine embroidery but can be used for decorative stitching on the sewing machine. Machine embroidery needles also can be found in sharp point, ballpoint versions and Titanium Nitride coated. This needle can be sized between 75/11 to 90/14.

Metallica Needle

Metallica needles are specially designed for trouble-free sewing with metallic or delicate thread. The larger groove and larger polished eye protect the threads and reduce thread breakage. These needles come in size  80/12, 90/14 and maybe found in Twin needles for sewing applications only.

Twin Needle

Twin needles are two needles on one post and are used for decorative stitching such as pintucks. These needles sew two rows of stitching at a time. Zig zag machines that thread front to back can use these needles. These needles generally come in sizes 2.0, 2.5, 3.0. The size 2.0/75 indicates the needle space 2.0mm and the needle size 75/11

Triple (Drilling) Needle

Triple needles are three needles mounted on one shaft and used to create three rows of  stitching at the same time. You can use a decorative stitch, but ALWAYS check that your needles will clear the needle plate.  These needles come in sizes 10/60 -2.5mm, 12/80-2.5mm and 12/80- 3mm.  NOTE:  “Needle Distance” is the distance between the outer two needles (i.e. 25., 3.0). The sizes are the same sizes used for regular sewing machine needles.

Wing (Hemstitch) Needle

These needles are designed to create holes in fabric generally associated with Heirloom sewing. Used for light or medium weight loosely woven fabrics. Popular for heirloom sewing and to create decorative cutwork. The needle has two blades (wings) on the sides causing a hole to be created as the needle pierces the fabric. Available sizes are 100/16 and 120/19.

Double Eye Needle

Double eye needles have two eyes allowing two colors of thread to stitch at the same time. These needles can be used on various fabrics. You can blend colors for topstitching or create interesting textures using these needles. There may be other sizes, but I have only seen them in size  80/12.

These needles can be purchased at your local dealer. Even if they don’t carry Schmetz needles, you can request they order them in – or – purchase from the brand your dealer carries. You can also order online if your local dealer is a ways away.  CLICK HERE to visit the Schmetz Site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *