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Sewing machine needles



(Needle-parts: courtesy of Wikipedia)


Interesting facts about sewing machine needles in Q&A


- Do we need to use different types of needles for woven fabrics and stretchy fabrics?

First of all, we need to understand there are different kinds of needle points. There are special point needles for leather and denim, but Universal, Stretch and Ballpoint are probably the three most commonly used needles.

Universal normal point: has normal pointy tip, not super pointy like leather or denim needles. The most commonly used needle for stitching woven fabrics

Stretch: has rounded point, used for sewing stretch wovens and knitted fabrics.

Ballpoint (Jersey): has more rounded tip than stretch needle, suitable for very stretchy fabrics.




(Needle-points: courtesy of Wikipedia)


As you can see in the image above, both Stretch and Ballpoint (Jersey) needles have rounded points. They are designed to push the fibers of the fabric away to the side, push through between the yarns instead of piercing it (as universal needles do), to prevent the fibers from getting damaged.

Broken or damaged fibers can cause holes on the stretchy fabrics. That is why it is important to use the right needle for each project.

- How do we understand different needle size systems?

1. The smaller the numbers the finer the needle for sewing machine needles. Don't get confused, the size system works the opposite for hand sewing needles.

For finer fabric: Smaller number sewing machine needles

For heavier fabrics: Bigger number sewing machine needles

2. Sewing machine needles are sized in metric and imperial numbers.

12 / 80

Imperial number (American system)
Metric number


3. The size of a needle is calculated by its diameter, thus a 80 needle is 0.8mm in diameter.

4. The common household sewing machine needles you can use are No.7/55 to No.18/100.
The most common sizes are 12/80 and 14/90, they are usually called “universal size”. When a new sewing machine is purchased, it normally comes with needle in these sizes.


8/60    · · · · · · Very light fabrics (such as silk)
11/75   · · · · · · Lightweight Fabrics
12/80   · · · · · Universal size: to purchase click HERE

13/85   · · · · ·  Medium light to medium heavy fabrics
18/110  · · · · · · Heavy to very heavy fabrics (upholstry, thick denim etc.)


Make sure that you are using the right sort of needle in the right size. If the needle still breaks, causes puckering or snagging, the problem might be that the tip of the needle is blunt. In that case you need to chage it to a new needle.

Tipp: can't tell which needle is on your sewing machine right now? One great way to avoid mixing up your neddles is to color the flat part with different colors of nail polish for each size if the needles have no color marks to differentiate the sizes.


- What are the grooves (dent) on the needle for?

There are usually two grooves on a sewing needle. A long groove which runs through from the shoulder to the needle eye in the middle on the front side of the needle, and a short groove which is on the other side of the needle between the tip and the needle eye.

A sewing thread is placed in the long groove during sewing to reduce the friction between fabric and thread. Therefore it is better to use the right size thread for the needle. A short groove helps the thread to create a loop.


- How often should we change the needles?

Your needle should be changed when it’s blunt or bent, and also when it’s a wrong type or a wrong size.

It is generally suggested to change needles every 6-10 sewing hours.

Check once in a while if the tip is not blunt or bent. If the condition of the needle and the sewing quality is totally fine, then they can be used little longer than the suggested life cycle.



- What are the differences between domestic sewing machine needles and industrial machine needles?

The difference is the shape of their shank (see the needle parts image above). Sewing machine needles for home use have the flat cut shank to prevent the needle from being attached incorrectly, and to ensure that it is attached correctly and in the specified direction.

Industrial sewing machine needles have round shank.

Home sewing machines are also labelled HA. Needles with HA at the beginning (e.g. HA×1SP or HA×130N) can be used with home sewing machines.

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