Choosing the Right Sewing Machine Needle Video


Using a sewing machine involves more than just placing your fabric under the foot and stepping on a pedal. The type and size of needle chosen greatly affects both the outcome of your sewing project and the performance of your sewing machine. Choosing the wrong needle can cause skipped or malformed stitches, shredded or broken thread, and even a broken needle.

Needle sizes range from the smallest at 60/8 to the largest at 120/19. The weight of your fabric should determine the size of your needle–the heavier the fabric, the larger the needle.

There is a large variety of needle types. The most commonly used needles are as follows: 

  • Universal–safe choice for most sewing projects; the slightly rounded point is good for knits but sharp enough for woven fabrics.
  • Ballpoint–a standard choice for most knits and best for heavier or looser knit fabrics; the needle passes between the fabric threads without piercing.
  • Stretch–designed for fine, lighter weight knits such as spandex or Lycra.
  • Sharp/Microtex–this needle pierces woven fabrics and works best on finely woven fabric like chintz, silk and microfiber.
  • Denim–the sharp point and strong shaft can stitch through many layers of fabric without breaking, and is great for tightly woven fabrics like denim or canvas.
  • Leather–the wedge-shaped point on this needle is ideal for leather, vinyl and thick nonwoven fabrics.

There are also decorative needles, used mainly for surface embellishment. These include the quilting needle, embroidery needle, topstitching needle and metallic needle. Other special purpose needles include the hemstitch, twin needle, triple needle and spring needle.

This video from Drea Johnson demonstrates the types and sizes of the most commonly used needles that you should always have on hand.

Choosing the correct sewing machine needle.