Sewing Machine Needle Sizes | Crafting News

Apr 1, 2021 | General Crafts, Sewing

Using the wrong sewing machine needle can damage the machine, thread, fabric and bobbin. Needles are often one of the last things people think about. This is because they were not taught their importance.

Knowing the difference between needle points and the sewing machine needle sizes will make a difference in your finished project. 


Years ago, sewing machines only had one standard size needle. This made it easy to go to the store and pick up a needle. But times have changed and so have sewing machines. Home sewing machines have become more advanced and can produce higher quality products. 

Parts of a Sewing Machine Needle

Sewing Machine Needle Sizes

The sewing machine needle is one of the most important parts of your sewing machine. They control the formation of the stitches and the penetration of the fabric. Using a needle that is too sharp for your fabric can break the fibres. While using a rounded needle can lead to skipped stitches. 

Basic parts of a sewing machine needle:

  • Eye

Everyone has heard of the eye of the needle. It is the narrow opening in which holds the thread. The size of the eye of the needle is designed to work with the grove. 

Using a needle that has an eye that is too large or too small can cause your thread to break. 

  • Groove

The groove is the cut in the front of the shaft. It works with the eye so that the thread lies close to the needle. It works as a guide.

  • Scarf

The scarf is an indentation on the sewing machine needle that makes it easy for the bobbin case hook to meet with the needle and form the stitches.

  • Shank

The thick part of the needle that is inserted into the sewing machine is called the shank. Home sewing machines often have a rounded side and a flat side. While industrial machines are complete round. Usually, on home machines, the flat part of the shank goes toward the back of the machine. Check with your manual to see how to correctly insert the needle.

  • Shaft

The sewing machine needle shaft is the part of the needle located below the shank. It contains the scarf, eye and point. The needle size is relative to the thickness of the shaft. 

  • Point

The point is the part of the needle that pierces the fabric. It delivers the thread to the bobbin case hook. There are four common types of points: ballpoint, sharp, wedge and universal. The type of fabric you are sewing will determine the shape of the needle point you will need.  

What Sewing Machine Needle Point to Choose

There are four common types of sewing machine needle points:

  • Ballpoint 

Ballpoint needles are used when you are working with knit fabrics. The rounded point is designed to glide through the fabric without breaking the fibres. The stitching that is created with a ballpoint is not as straight as what you would get with a sharp needle. 

  • Sharp 

A sharp needle is used when working with woven fabric. Sharp needles will produce a straight line.

  • Wedge

Wedge point needles are designed to easily penetrate leather and vinyl.

  • Universal

Universal needles can be used when working with both knits and woven fabric. The point of the needle is slightly sharp and slightly rounded. 

Sewing Machine Needle Sizes

sewing machine needles

Different fabrics will require a different needle. So how do you know what needle sizes for sewing machine you should use? Knowing the differences between the different size sewing machine needle sizes will help you choose. 

Picking the correct sewing machine needles can be confusing. This is because of the labelling system used. The system uses both the American and European labelling systems. The American system uses numbers from 8 to 19.

The European system uses numbers ranging from 60 to 120. The general rule of thumb is the higher the number the thicker the fabric it can sew. The lower number the thinner the fabric.

Fabrics and needle sizes:

  • Silks -65/9 or 60/8
  • Light Weight Fabrics – 75/11, 70/10 or 65/9, 60/8
  • Medium Weight Fabrics – 80/12 or 90/14
  • Heavy Weight Fabrics – 100/16, 110/18 or 120/20.
  • Leather – 11/75 and 14/90

When Should You Change Your Needle?

The needle you use will greatly affect the outcome of your project. Not only is choosing the right needle important, but it is also necessary to know when to change your needle. A dull or damaged needle can damage the fabric and the sewing machine. 

needle sizes for sewing machine

Knowing when to change the sewing machine needles:
  • If you hit a pin while sewing
  • It breaks
  • If it is bent
  • After 3 full bobbins of thread have been used
  • After sewing leather or extremely heavy fabrics
  • After 6-8 hours of sewing
  • Has a burr on it
  • Is dull

Troubleshooting Needle Problems

If you are using the wrong sewing machine needle sizes or the needle is damaged, you will experience issues sewing. Below are some common troubleshooting tips:

  • Skipping Stitches

The needle is either dull, or you are using the wrong size needle.

  • Needle keeps breaking

The needle you are using is too small for the thickness of fabric.

  • Needle is leaving large holes in fabric

The needle you are using is too big for the fabric you are sewing.

  • Fabric is getting snags

The needle is either dull, or you are using the wrong size needle.

  • Thread is shredding or breaking

The needle is too small for the type of thread you are using. Or the thread is old or low quality.

  • Popping sounds 

Your needle is dull, bent or damaged. 

Choose the right sewing machine needle sizes for your next project.

Having the right needle for the job will make a world of difference. During an average project, your needle will pierce your fabric 600 to 1000 times a minute. This will dull the needle and wear it out.

And if you are using the incorrect sewing machine needle sizes, you will also be causing damage to the fabric and sewing machine. You also need to know the types of Sewing Needles and their uses.

For more sewing related articles, check them here. You can also find more crafting ideas on our Facebook Page!

When you begin a new project, it is important that you use the right needle. Knowing the differences between the sewing machine needle sizes will make choosing your needle a lot easier.

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