Thursday, 24 November 2016


Today I'm feeling harassed and under the weather and of course when I feel like this I turn to my sewing to relax and soothe my soul!

I was asked at class today "How do I know what needle to use to sew my project?". So I'm going to try and demystify the machine needle problem for you!

You should always keep an assortment of sewing machine needles with your machine and your Serger as there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to finish your project because you have broken your last needle.  The manual that comes with your machine will give you the needle specifications for your machine, so use it.

The eye of the needle should be smooth and free from rough spots to avoid problems of the thread going through it, so always run your fingers over the needle before you insert it into your machine.

There is a host of different size needles available to suit all fabrics and come with both European and American sizing:

  • European size:      60    65    70    75    80    90    100    110    120
  • American size:      8      9     10    11    12    14      16      18      19
There is also 3 different points to a needle
  • Sharps: These have a very sharp point and are used on heavyweight and firmly woven and stretch fabric (lycra and jersey) as the point passes easily between the fibres without snagging. 
  • Ballpoint: This has a more rounded point and allows the needle to pass through knits easily. 
  • Universal: Has a slightly rounded point compared to the sharp needle. These are suitable for use on most knit and woven fabrics. This is the general-purpose
The thickness and strength of the needle increases as the numbers go up, so the fabric weight and density will determine the size of the needle used.  The lighter the weight of the fabric the smaller the needle size, the heavier the weight of fabric the higher the needle size.
Needles often come with both European and American sizes on them, for example, 80/12 and so on.
Needles packs also come with letter labels and are as follows:
  • DE: Double Eye
  • DRI: Triple
  • H: Universal (keep a stock of these in different sizes)
  • J: Jeans and Denim
  • L, R, LL: Leather
  • M: Sharp
  • MET: Metallic
  • N: Topstitching
  • Q: Quilting on the machine
  • S: Stretch fabrics
  • Serger: Special machine needle
  • SES: Fine ballpoint
  • SUK: Medium ball point
  • WING: Hemstitching
  • ZWI: Double or Twin needle

The last number on the package is really important as it identifies the needle system that most domestic machines use:

  • 130/705H. The 130 means the length of the needle shank and 705 means the back of the shank is flat. This means you cannot insert the needle incorrectly as the flat side will only go in facing to the back.

So always remember to use the correct size and needle point to suit your fabric weight and change the needle regularly as it can become dull causing snags and runs in the fabric.

A fresh needle will make your sewing project more enjoyable with less problems along the way.

I hope this has helped to take the confusion out of choosing the correct needle!


  1. Very informative Ann. Great to see you back blogging :-)

    1. Thank you Joan, its always helpful to get feed back. Just need to make time to keep the blogging up now! :-)