What Size Sewing Machine Needle

What Size Sewing Machine Needle: Everything You Need to Know

Using the right size sewing machine needle is essential if you want to create strong and long-lasting stitches. Needles come in a range of sizes and can vary considerably, depending on fabrics, threads and the type of sewing technique. When choosing the correct needle size, you should ask yourself three questions; what type of fabric am I using, what size thread am I using and which sewing technique am I using? Understanding the answers to these questions can help you decide which needle to use for your project.

It’s important to note that sewing machine needles come in international sizes; US/Canada, European and Japanese. US/Canada sizes range from 8 to 19, European sizes range from 60 to 120 and Japanese sizes range from 9 to 19. While sizes vary between countries, the higher the number, the larger the needle. The size of the sewing machine needle you select will significantly impact the quality of the stitch, so it’s essential that you choose the right one.

In general, a smaller needle should be used with lightweight fabrics, such as silk and chiffon. A finer needle will create neat stitches without causing damage to delicate fabrics. Similarly, a larger needle should be used for thicker and heavier fabrics, such as denim, velvet and cork. Larger needles can easily penetrate these materials, allowing the threads to create neat and strong stitches. It’s important to bear in mind that if you use a small needle for a thicker fabric, it can cause skipped stitches and tearing of the material.

Needle size will also depend on the type of thread you are using. A thick thread will require a larger needle, while a fine thread will require a smaller needle. An all-purpose needle, equivalent to a US/Canada size 11 or 12, can be used for most types of fabrics, but is not recommended for very fine or very thick fabrics.

The size of the needle will also be influenced by the type of sewing technique you are using. For example, if you are embroidering or doing applique work, you will need to use a smaller needle to ensure the finer stitches do not get pulled through the fabric. On the other hand, if you are quilting, a larger needle is recommended to allow the fabrics to move more freely.

Overview of All Types of Sewing Machine Needles

Each type of needle has a slightly different shape and size and is suited to certain types of fabrics, threads and stitches. The most common needle types are universal and sharps, but there are several others, including quilting, denim, embroidery and topstitch needles.

Universal needles are the most common needles used for everyday sewing tasks. They have slightly round tips and cylindrical shafts and come in different sizes, from 8 to 19. These needles can be used on a variety of fabrics, from light linens to heavy denim.

Sharps needles are ideal for knits and woven fabrics and are good for creating stitches that will be strong and long-lasting. These needles have a sharp point and tapered shaft and come in sizes 8 to 18. Sharps are the go-to needle for general sewing tasks.

Quilting needles have a rounded tip and tapered shaft, which helps them make neat stitches on quilts and other thicker fabrics. They come in sizes 8 to 16 and are best suited for fabrics like upholstery and canvas.

Denim needles have a sturdy construction with a sharp tip and strong shaft. These needles are designed to penetrate thick fabrics with ease and come in sizes 12 to 16. Denim needles are great for sewing heavier fabrics like denims, twills and canvases.

Embroidery needles have a long, elongated eye and sharp tip, which allows the thread to pass through easily. These needles come in sizes 8 to 12 and are best suited for delicate fabrics, like chiffon, batiste and organza.

Topstitch needles are strong, long needles with large eyes and sharp tips that allow thick threads to pass through easily. They come in sizes 14 to 18 and can easily penetrate heavy fabrics, like leather, vinyl and canvas.

Tips to Choosing a Sewing Machine Needle

Choosing the right sewing machine needle is essential for creating neat and strong stitches. Here are some tips to help you select the right needle for the job:

  • Choose the correct needle type: Before selecting a needle, determine which type you need for the fabric, thread and stitching you are using.
  • Check the size: Needle sizes range from 8 to 19, with the highest number being the largest size.
  • Replace needle often: After each project, replace the needle and inspect it for any signs of wear and tear.
  • Check the needle position: Ensure that the needle is properly inserted into the machine before you begin stitching.

Safety Precautions When Using Sewing Machine Needles

When using a sewing machine needle, it’s important to take safety precautions to prevent injury. Here are some tips to keep in mind when using any type of needle:

  • Wear protective eyewear: Wear safety glasses or safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying pieces of fabric, stitching or needles.
  • Secure fabric: Be sure to secure the fabric firmly with pins to prevent fabric from bunching or slipping while stitching.
  • Check tension: Regularly check thread and needle tension to ensure stitches are even and consistent.
  • Remove pins: Be sure to remove any pins before stitching over them. Otherwise, they can break the needle.
  • Check needle condition: Regularly inspect the needle for any signs of wear and tear. Replace the needle if it is worn or bent.

Needle Compatibility with Sewing Machine Brands and Models

Most brands and models of sewing machines take universal needles, but check the instruction manual for your machine to be sure. Some sewing machines require specialty needles, such as jeans or quilting needles, so it’s best to check with the manufacturer if you’re unsure. Additionally, if you are using a new brand or type of fabric, check the needle compatibility with the machine before beginning to stitch.

It’s also important to note that some brands and models of sewing machines come with needle threader attachments, which make threading needles much easier. Check the instruction manual for your particular machine to see if it includes a threader.

Accessories Needed For Sewing Machine Needles

If you are using a specialized needle, such as a topstitch needle, or a specialty fabric or thread, you may need to purchase additional accessories. An extra presser foot or a high-lift presser foot may be necessary if you are stitching leather or vinyl. A Teflon foot or walking foot should be used for heavy fabrics, such as canvas and denim. For thicker threads, such as upholstery thread, you may need a larger needle eye. A needle-threader tool is useful if your machine does not have one built-in.

Special Considerations

When using a sewing machine needle, it is important to consider the fabric and thread you are using, as well as the type of stitching you are doing. A fine needle is necessary for delicate fabrics, such as silk and chiffon, and a larger needle should be used for heavier fabrics like denim and velvet. Needle size will also be influenced by the type of thread you are using, so choose a thicker needle for thicker threads. Needles come in a range of sizes and types, so be sure to choose the right one for your fabric, thread and stitching. It’s also important to take safety precautions and use the right accessories to ensure your stitching looks neat and professional.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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