You’re sewing along and everything’s going great. Until you notice that your sewing machine is skipping stitches. You adjust the tension and rethread the sewing machine, but it is still skipping stitches. Well, then it maybe time to change your sewing machine needle.
A couple of the other signs that your needle maybe dull and need changing is, the thread keeps breaking, the needle makes a thud sound as it hits the fabric, if it’s well used and if the needle is making bigger holes in the fabric.
And if you need help changing your needle read this post. “How to Change a Sewing Machine Needle Like a Pro.”
What this post is about is sewing needle sizes. Yes, there are different sizes for different projects and materials.
You may have been just using the needles that came with your sewing machine. And now you need a new needle in your machine, but you’re not for sure what size you need. Well, in this post we’ll look at the different sizes of needles you can get and the different needle types.
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Different types of needles
Before we look at the different sizes of sewing machine needles. Let’s talk about the different needle types. The type of needle you use will depend on the type of fabric.
Universal needle: These are the all-purpose needles, meaning you can use them with different types of fabric, like cotton fabrics, synthetic fabrics and also they can be sometimes used on knit fabrics. Universal needles are also the most commonly used needle and are great for general sewing or fancier sewing.
Denim needles: Denim needles are used for stitching denim, canvas, duck cloth and and other heavy fabrics. These needles are also called jean needles.
Quilting needle: Like the name suggests these sharp needles are used when making a quilt. You can use these quilting needles when piecing a quilt and for machine quilting. Because these needles are great for sewing through layers of fabric
Ballpoint needle: Ball point needles are the needles you will use on knit fabrics. Because the rounded tip cause the needle go between the fabric threads instead of piercing them.
Stretch needles: Stretch needles are used for highly elastic knits. And these are like the ball point needles to help prevent skipped stitches. Because if you’ve worked with knit or elastic fabrics before you know that they like to skip stitches.
Leather needle: Leather needles are used to stitch leather. They have a very sharp point to help make holes in the leather.
Embroidery needles: Embroidery needles used for machine embroidery. And these needles have a large eye to prevent the threads from shredding and breaking.
Topstitching needle: Topstitch needles are great for sewing with metallic and thicker thread. Because the eye of the needle is larger.
Since we’ve talked about the different types of needles you can use. Now let’s talk about the sewing machine needle sizes. Because you need to use the correct needle size with the correct fabric for your sewing project.
If you look at the needle case you’ll notice that there are two numbers. That’s because the larger number is the European size and the smaller number is the American size.
And here are the needle sizes.
Now you know the sizes of needles and next you need to know what fabric goes with what size.
- 60/8, 65/9, 70/10, 75/11 – lightweight fabrics, like organza, chiffon, cotton lawn, voile, silk and other like weight fabrics.
- 80/12, 90/14 – medium weight fabrics like, quilting cottons, velvet, linen, muslin, knits and other like weight fabrics.
- 100/16 – heavyweight fabrics like, denim, duck cloth, canvas, corduroy, leather and other like weight fabrics.
- 110/18 – very heavy weight fabrics like, heavy denim, upholstery fabric, heavy canvas, and other like weight fabrics.
If I haven’t mentioned the fabric you want to use just look up what size needle for whatever fabric you’re using. But, everybody ideas and preferences are different so some may use a size 100/16 for upholstery fabric or a size 80/12 for organza.
And the most common sizes of needles you can find are, 75/11, 80/12 and 90/14. These are the sizes you’ll most likely find in a multi size pack of needles for your home machines.
And here below is a free sewing needle size chart.
And if you’ve noticed that all the needles I’ve linked above are Schmetz needles. That’s because that is my favorite brand of sewing machine needles.
I hope that this post has helped you figure out sewing machine needle sizes. When I work with quilting cotton fabric my favorite size of needle is the size 90/14.
What happens when you use the wrong size needle for your new project? Using the wrong needle can damage your fabric. If you use a larger needle with your delicate fabrics that can make large holes in the fabric. It can also cause puckering, skipped stitches, uneven seams, thread breaking, and needle breakage.
What is a metallic needle? These specialty needles are for sewing with metallic thread and even with poor quality threads. To me they’re kind of like the topstitching needles.
How do you read needle sizes? Reading sewing machine needle size is very easy the finer needles are lower numbers. And the higher numbers are thicker needles. And the size of the needle really does matter.
What sewing threads should I use? I personally like to use all-purpose polyester threads. But, there is also cotton threads, silk threads, metallic threads, invisible threads, embroidery thread, elastic thread and there is also a cotton blend threads that is polyester and cotton thread. But, the thread type you use depends on two things. What you like and the project you are working on, because if you are working on a showy piece you may want to use metallic thread. Or, if your working on a quilt you may use all-purpose or cotton thread.
Does the thread sizes matter? To be honest I really don’t pay that much attention to the thread size. Because I use all purpose for most of my projects, and I taught myself how to sew, so I didn’t know that there was different sizes of thread. But, I would use heavier threads on heavy, thick fabric.
Are there different sizes of hand sewing needles? Yes, like sewing machine needles there are different sizes of hand sewing needles. The most commonly used sizes of hand sewing needles are 2, 3 and 4. Like the sewing machine needles there are different sizes for different types of fabric.
What are tapestry needles used for? Tapestry needles have a blunt needle point and larger eye. So, they’re used a lot of the time for needlework like cross stitch. Because you can poke the needle through the open weave (holes) of the cross stitch fabric.
Check out some of my other sewing posts on my blog
- WHAT’S BEST COMPUTERIZED OR MECHANICAL SEWING MACHINE
- SERGER VS SEWING MACHINE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- PERFECTING YOUR SEWING PATTERNS WITH TRACING PAPER
- IDEAS ON HOW TO STORE ALL OF YOUR SEWING PATTERNS
- THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SEWING BUTTONS YOU CAN USE
- EIGHT DIFFERENT TYPES OF SCISSORS TO USE FOR SEWING
- THE 5 BEST LIGHTS FOR SEWING, NEEDLEWORK AND MORE