Behind the jargon Sewing machine needle guide.

Behind the jargon Sewing machine needle guide.

What type and size of needle do I need for my sewing project?

When choosing a sewing machine needle you will need to consider what type and what weight of fabric you will be sewing. The type and weight of your chosen fabric will dictate what type and what size of needle you will need. As a general rule of thumb the finer the fabric the smaller the needle size you will want, larger needle sizes will have a thicker shaft and will damage a finer more delicate fabric leaving you with visible holes. With thicker more heavy weight fabrics, such as denim, canvas, corduroy or leather you will need a larger-sized needle in order to penetrate it.

Needle sizes explained:

Sewing machine needles are standardized so that all needles are compatible with most of the sewing machine brands available and are labelled in metric and imperial measurements, coming in a variety of sizes, anywhere from a 60/10 to a 110/18. The size of the needle is calculated on the diameter of the needle shaft, the shaft of the needle being the round part of the needle running from the top all the way down to the end or the tip/point of the needle. For example, a needle sized as a 60/10 has a shaft size of 0.6mm in diameter and would be labelled as a 60/10 and a needle sized as a 110/18 would measure 1.1mm in diameter.


Needle types explained:

As well as needle sizes, sewing machine needles come in a variety of types, these types are based on the shape of the tip/end of the needle as well as the size of the eye. The types available are as follows:

Universal: these have a slightly rounded point to the end and are extremely versatile. They work well sewing most types of woven fabrics, knits and synthetics and can be purchased in a variety of needle sizes.

Ballpoint: these have a more rounded point to the needle and slip between the fabric fibres rather than piercing them. They are suitable for sewing most cotton knits, fleece, and double-knit fabrics.

Stretch: these are designed for use on two-way stretch fabrics, such as lycra, knits, power net, and other highly elasticated synthetic fabrics.

Leather: these needles feature a specially designed knife-edged ‘chisel point’ which cuts through the leather as well as other tough textiles as it penetrates.

Metallic: these feature a larger and specially coated eye which enables the metallic thread to glide through at all stitching speeds. As well as this, the shaft of the needle features a larger groove, known as a scarf, in order to prevent the thread from breaking as it moves through.

Embroidery: these needles have a specially coated and larger eye. This allows the thread to flow through more freely at higher speeds associated with machine embroidery.

Denim: these needles have a very sharp point with a stiffer shank designed to resist deflection when sewing thicker fabrics such as denim, heavy twill and densely woven fabrics.

Sharps: designed with a fine sharp point for sewing tightly woven fabrics such as microfiber and other synthetics, ideal for topstitching. 

30th March 2023

Back to news