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All About Sewing Machine Needles

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 In General

Choosing the correct sewing machine needle for your project can sometimes be a daunting task, as machine needles come in a bewildering array of sizes and styles. But there are essentially two facts to remember:

  • The more delicate your fabric, the finer the needle and the finer the thread you should use.
  • If your stitch is uneven or ragged looking, the first thing to try to correct the problem is to insert a new needle. Needles can develop burrs that cause pulls and uneven stitching.

Needle sizes are expressed as two numbers with a slash between. The first number is for American sizing; the second number is for European sizing. For example, 12/80 means that the needle is a size 12 American or a size 80 European. Size 8/60 is the finest, and size 19/120 is the heaviest.

These numbers are important in that they indicate how fine or how heavy the needle is: The lower the number, the finer the needle. 8/60 is the finest; 19/120 is the heaviest.

Needle Types

Universal Needles are used for general sewing of woven or knit fabrics. Available sizes: 8/60, 9/65, 10/70, 11/75, 12/80, 14/90, 16/100, 18/110 through 19/120.

Microtex Needles have a sharp point for straight stitches on delicate and microfiber fabrics. Available sizes: 8/60, 9/65, 10/70, 11/75, 12/80, 14/90.

Quilting Needles have a unique taper and a sharp point for easier penetration of the quilt layers. Available sizes: 11/75, 12/80, 14/90.

Embroidery Needles are specially designed for rayon and polyester machine embroidery applications. Available sizes: 11/75, 12/80, 14/90.

Metallic Needles are used for specialty threads to prevent shredding. The needle eye is enlarged and polished so better accommodate metallic threads. Available sizes: 12/80, 14/90.

Denim/Jeans Needles are, as the name implies, used for denim or other densely woven fabrics or for penetrating multilayer fabrics. These needles have a very sharp point and a stiff shaft for keeping stitching straight. Available sizes: 10/70, 11/75, 12/80, 14/90, 16/100, 18/110.

Leather Needles have a sharp wedge shaped point for penetrating leather, suede, heavy faux leather fabrics, and vinyl without tearing. With this needle you need to stitch carefully and accurately since the needle leaves a large permanent hole. Do not use this type needle on woven or knits fabric since it has a slight cutting point. Available sizes: 80/12, 110/18.

Stretch Needles are ideal for stitching silk jersey; Lycra; any highly elastic, lightweight knits; as well as lightweight faux suede. These needles have a deep scarf to help prevent skipped stitches. Available sizes: 11/75, 14/90.

Topstitch Needles are extra sharp. These needles have a larger than usual groove to accommodate large diameter threads and dense fabrics. Available sizes: 12/80, 14/90, 16/100.

Ball Point Needles have a more rounded medium tip than a universal needle and pass between the threads of the fabric as opposed to piercing them. These needles help to prevent damage to knits and fabrics that run or snag easily.

Wing Needles (also referred to as hemstitch needles) have a flared shaft resembling wings to create a decorative hole in tightly woven fabrics. Useed for heirloom stitching, openwork, hemstitching and other decorative stitching on fabrics such as fine batiste and linen. Available sizes: 100/16, 120/19.

Double and Triple Topstitching Needles have two or three needles attached to a single shaft and are used to create parallel rows of stitching in a single pass. Sizing for triple needles is different from other specialty needles with two numbers listed on the packaging. The first number indicates the distance (in millimeters) between the needles; the second number indicates the European needle size. Available sizes in double: 1.6/70 – 4.0/100. Available sizes in triple: 2.5/80 – 3.0/80.


By Florence Dove Google

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