Are you confused about how to select the right sewing needle? Don’t worry! Follow this simple guide to get a complete understanding of the sewing machine needles.
Basically, we all know the importance of needle in sewing. But are you aware of the different types, sizes and color codes of sewing machine needles available in the market? If not, take your time and get to know about the needles before you start to sew.
As per research, the sewing needle is considered to be one of the major factors in creating sewing damages and defects in garments. So, having a basic knowledge of the sewing machine needle types and their purposes will aid you to effortlessly select the correct needle suitable for your sewing requirements and eliminate some common sewing problems such as
- Thread breaks
- Fabric damage
- Uneven seam
- Poor quality stitches and
- Throat plate damage
Here in this article, we have outlined the necessary details about sewing machine needles to help you purchase the right sewing needle. You can go through it one by one and pick a needle perfect for your thread and fabric.
- 1 Sewing Machine Needle Parts
- 2 Sewing Machine Needles Sizes
- 3 Sewing Machine Needle Types
- 4 Color codes of Sewing Machine Needle
- 5 Tips for choosing the right sewing machine needle
- 6 Conclusion
Sewing Machine Needle Parts
If you are a beginner, then first understand the anatomy of the sewing needle before you get to know about the types of sewing machine needles. Having prior knowledge of the needle parts will help you find a needle of the correct size matching your sewing needs.
In general, all the sewing machine needles will have basic parts such as Shank, Shaft, Groove, Scarf, Eye and Point. You can spot variations only in the shape and length of the needle.
Here is a detailed view of the sewing machine needle.
Image Source: Janome.com.au
Shank: It is the upper thick end of the needle which goes into the sewing machine. In the domestic needles, the shank will be flat on the backside and round on the front side. With the difference in shank surface, you can easily identify the sides of the needle and position it correctly in the sewing machine. To avoid major sewing problems, the needle should be inserted from the backside. If you are confused about needle installation, then learn how to insert the needle into your sewing machine.
Shaft: It is the body area of the needle that lies below the shank. The needle size will be determined based on the diameter of the shaft. For a smaller shaft, the number will be smaller.
Groove: It is present on the front side of the shaft and it mainly allows the thread to lie tightly against the needle while sewing.
Eye: It is a hole that is located at the bottom of the needle to pass the thread. The sewing needles are commonly available in different eye sizes to pass different types of threads. In the sewing needle, the eye size will increase proportionally to the shaft size.
Scarf: It is a small space present at the rear side of the needle above the eye. To form a clean stitch, the scarf allows the hook to catch the eye of the needle.
Point: It is the needle’s tip that penetrates into the fabric to form even stitches with the help of a thread. The sewing needles usually come with different types of points ideal to pierce wide varieties of fabric.
Sewing Machine Needles Sizes
In order to give a smooth sewing experience to the users, a lot of sewing brands offer different types of sewing machine needles in different sizes for different purposes.
Listed below are some popular sewing needle brands.
The sewing machine needle sizes generally varies depending on the thickness/width of the needle. You can sew thicker fabrics with a thicker/heavy needle and fine fabrics with a thinner/fine needle.
To purchase a needle, you must know the size of the needle. If you are clear about the numbers, then you can easily take the correct needle of your choice. The machine needle sizes will conventionally be labeled in the American and European system.
While purchasing, in the needle packages you can see the machine needle sizes in both European and American system with a slash (/) in between. For example, 60/8 is the size of a thinner needle, here the larger number 60 denotes the European system of labeling and the smaller number 8 denotes the American system. The numbers 60 and 8 are nothing but the thickness of the fabric that you can use to sew with that needle size.
In the European system, the standard machine needle sizes ranges between 60 and 120. Here size 60 is a fine needle and size 120 is a heavy needle.
In the American system, the machine needle sizes basically ranges between 8 and 20. Here size 8 is a fine needle and size 20 is a heavy needle.
The chart below shows the standard machine needle sizes in the European and American labeling system.
Before you start your sewing project, have a fundamental understanding of your fabric type and then choose an appropriate needle for it. Your needle will break or cause any other damages to your sewing machine if you use a fine needle for a thicker fabric. Similarly, if you use a heavy needle for a thinner fabric, then the fabric you are using will get damaged. So, be cautious and choose the right needle.
Mentioned below is the list of machine needle sizes you can prefer to use for different fabric types.
- Very fine fabrics: 60/8; 65/9; 70/10
- Light-weight fabrics: 75/11; 80/12
- Medium-weight fabrics: 90/14
- Heavyweight fabrics: 100/16
- Very heavyweight fabrics: 110/18
- Extremely heavyweight fabrics: 120/19
To know more about the fabric types, check the image below
The eye size will not be constant in all the needles. Based on the machine needle sizes and shape, the size of the eye also varies. While preparing for your sewing project, keep an eye on the thread type too. You cannot insert a thicker thread into a smaller eye. Also, when you insert a fine thread into a large eye, the thread will jump out. Hence, pick a needle with an eye size appropriate to hold a thread.
Sewing Machine Needle Types
If you desire to sew a denim fabric, then you can very well go with a needle size of 100/16 but for easy piercing into such heavyweight fabrics, a sewing needle with a specialized point (tip) is required. So, to satisfy the sewing requisites of all kinds of fabric and thread, the sewing machine needles are broadly classified into the following types based on their point shape and purposes.
It is one of the most common types of sewing needles convenient to sew woven fabrics and knit fabrics with its sharp and slightly rounded tip. The Universal needles are available in almost all sizes but you can prefer the sizes ranging between 70/10 and 90/14 to sew many kinds of fabrics. With the universal needle, you can use cotton, polyester or silk threads.
If you are not convinced with the Universal Needles, then you can use Ballpoint needles. When compared to the universal needles, the ball point needles have a more rounded tip. The advantage of the rounded tip is that it will pass smoothly through the fibers without breaking them.
You can use the ball point needles to sew closely-knit fabrics and jerseys because they will not cause any damage to the layers of fabric. The ballpoint needles will help you to achieve a perfect non-straight stretching suitable for fabrics with low and medium stretch factor. Along with the ballpoint needles, prefer to use polyester threads or polyester and cotton blended threads. When you use thin needles, always go with finer threads.
It is also a kind of ballpoint needle that are designed mainly to sew extra-stretchy fabrics. The stretch needles have a rounded tip and a small scarf. With the stretch needles, you can sew fabrics like Lycra, spandex, swimwear, power net, silk jersey, stretch knits and elastics. Most importantly, it prevents skipped stitches on knits and is good to use with polyester threads. The common stretch needle sizes are 75/11 and 90/14.
As the name suggests, the Jeans Needles are used to sew thick denim fabrics. These needles have an extra-sharp point and a sturdy shank for penetrating through heavy fabrics. With the denim needle, you can sew multi-layered fabrics, heavy linens, canvas and all the other densely woven fabrics.
While sewing extremely heavy fabrics with the jeans needle, you can choose to use synthetic threads, pure polyester threads or cotton wrapped polyester threads. The jeans/denim needle usually comes in almost all sizes from 70/10 to 110/18 but it is highly preferable to opt for a thicker needle size for thicker fabrics.
Image Source: sew-it-yourself.com
It is a fine needle with a sharp point and a strong shaft. With the microtex/sharp needle, you can sew tightly woven fabrics, silk, microfiber and multilayered cotton fabrics. The sharp point in the needle is helpful for straight line sewing and topstitching. When compared to universal needles, the microtex needles are too sharp and can also be considered for embroidering on knit fabrics.
The Leather Needles have a sharp wedge-shaped point suitable to penetrate through fabrics that are made of genuine leather, suede and other thick non-woven fabrics. To sew leather fabrics, you can use the leather needles of size 75/11 or 90/14 depending upon the thickness of the fabric. Never use the leather needles for sewing synthetic suede or imitation leather because the characteristics of faux leather may damage or break the needle. Check the different types of leather available in the market and try to use these needles only to sew real leather fabrics.
Embroidery needles are used for embroidery stitching with embroidery threads. In general, these needles have a larger eye convenient to pass embroidery threads made of cotton, rayon or polyester. You can use embroidery needles on fabrics of all types.
Quilting needles are thin needles with a strong point to sew fabrics that are made of several layers. Also, it has a sturdy shaft that prevents the needle from bending or breaking. Using the quilting needle, you can achieve even stitches on thick layered fabrics and bags. If you are a quilter, then learn more about the sewing needles for quilting.
Wing needles are a special type of sewing needle that can be used for heirloom sewing. Also, you can make holes in the fabric with the wing needle. The wide shank of the needle gives a wing-shaped look and thus got the name wing needle. With the wing needle, you can sew on fabrics that are made from cotton or any other natural fibers.
Here are some styles of heirloom stitches created using the wing needle.
Metafil /Metallic Needle
Metallic Needles are ideal to sew on knit or woven fabrics with metallic threads. These needles have a large eye to accommodate fancy threads. As it has a large eye it is considered the best needle for those who find it difficult to thread a standard-sized needle. With metallic needles, you can achieve a satisfactory sewing experience without thread breakages.
Top Stitch Needle
Top Stitch Needles have a large eye and an extra sharp point. Using the sharp-pointed top stitch needle, you can easily sew all types of fabrics. Most importantly, the top stitch needle works well with the top-stitch thread.
Twin and Triple Needles
These needles are used to create decorative stitches at a reduced speed. For evenly spaced parallel rows of stitching, you can use these needles. Also, these needles are best for hemming, pin tucking, topstitch and heirloom sewing.
Remember, the twin and triple needles cannot be inserted into all kinds of sewing machines. You can install these needles only in the machines that have a zigzag capability and a needle plate with a wide hole. So, before purchasing these needles make sure whether your sewing machine has the facility to fit these needles.
In the package of these needles, you can see 2 numbers where the first number represents the spacing between the needles and the second number represents the needle size.
Mentioned below are the decorative stitches made with the twin and triple sewing needles.
The self-threaded needles are of great use for those who face difficulty in threading a needle. This needle will have a trace of a tiny slight near to the eye at the side of the needle to easily slide the thread into the needle’s eye. Handicap needles are not available at all types of points. You can find this needle only in 12/80 and 14/90 sizes.
Color codes of Sewing Machine Needle
To easily identify the needle type and size, some manufacturers use color codes. The concept of color code was originally introduced by Schmetz, a popular needle manufacturer. Generally, the color codes will be present at the bottom of the needle’s shank.
In Schmetz domestic needles, you can see two colors one above the other on the shoulder of the needle. The first color at the top represents the needle type and the second color represents the needle size. Here is the color code chart of the Schmetz needle.
The color codes of the needles are not consistent. Each brand follows different color codes. So, never make a purchase decision based on the color codes of the needles. If you are a regular user of a particular brand, then you can stick to the color codes or else check the package to know the needle type and size.
Here is the color code chart of Singer and Kenmore Sewing Machine Needles.
Tips for choosing the right sewing machine needle
Choosing the wrong needle is one of the primary causes of thread breaking in the sewing machine. In addition to thread breaks, you may also end up facing fabric damages or any serious sewing problems. To skip all such hurdles, selecting the right sewing machine needle is mandatory.
So, how to recognize the right sewing machine needle? While you are in the process of selecting a needle for your sewing project, always keep the purposes of various needle types and sizes in mind along with the key factors like fabric type, thread type and the sewing technique you are going to follow.
Also, before purchasing check the manual of your sewing machine and make sure whether the needle you have selected is compatible with your sewing machine.
For example, if you use an imperfect needle for embroidering or quilting, you may get poor quality stitches. Hence, it is highly recommended to use a sewing machine needle fitting to the sewing technique you use.
Never use ballpoint needles to sew woven fabrics and sharp needles for knit fabrics. Using a needle differing from the fabric will not only damage the fabric but also break or bend the needle. So, consider your fabric type first and then pick out a needle type and needle size suitable to it. Also, to stay away from sewing-related troubles prefer a thread appropriate to your sewing machine needle and the fabric.
We hope you are clear about the various needle types, needle sizes and their purposes discussed in this article.
When sewing, remember not to use the same needle for all types of fabric. Use a new needle for every sewing project appropriate to your sewing needs. Change the needle frequently even though the needle works fine. Avoid using bent or damaged needles.
The decision of purchasing a sewing machine needle ultimately depends upon your choice. Initially, you may find it hard to spot the right sewing needle. But once you get familiar, choosing a sewing machine needle will be easy for you.
Identify a quintessential sewing machine needle and gain flawless sewing experience!