All You Need to Know about Sewing Machine Needles

sewing needle type explanations

Sewing machine needles come in a variety of needle sizes and a variety of needle points. Let's start with the point first.

  • When sewing with a WOVEN fabric, use a UNIVERSAL needle, this needle has a sharp point.
  • When sewing a KNIT fabric, use a BALLPOINT needle, this needle has a rounded point which doesn't punctuate the fabric but the needle goes "around the yarn" without making a hole. 
  • When sewing with any type of stretch fabric, whether it is a woven fabric with lycra added or a knit fabric, use this type of needle, the needle with not make a hole in the fabric.
  • When sewing a heavy twill fabric such as denim, use a JEANS needle which has a very sharp point to easily go through thick fabric.
  • A Microtex needle is very thin and very sharp, it is used for similar fabric as one would with the Universal needle, except it is more for delicate fabrics as well as for ultra suede and the likes.
  • A Leather needle is not only very sharp but also is fairly thick in order to go through sturdy material. A real leather machine has 2 needles where the first needle's purpose is to make a hole in the leather and the following needle threads the thread to sew.
  • And a "self-threading" needle does just that, it is a super easy way of threading your needle but at times the thread can slip out of the needle and thus isn't perfect yet.  
  • The double needle (not featured in the graphic above) is used when hemming a stretch or knit fabric, using this machine needle allows a finished hem to stretch without the thread breaking. These machine needles also come in different sizes AND width, meaning the space between the needles.
  • There are numerous other needles but these are the most common ones.      A needle's number indicates the thickness of the needle itself, starting with a #70 which is used for delicate fabrics such as Chiffon. The #80 and #90 is used most commonly and especially the #80 works fine on most fabrics.  The #100 and #110 are used for heavier fabrics such as Denim or Canvas.