It's important to know the proper size as well as type of needle for your project.
Choosing the right sewing machine needle for a sewing project can be a confusing task. There are many different types, and they come in many different sizes. Using high-quality needles will make all the difference in your sewing satisfaction as will choosing the right needle in the right size.
The Needle Size
There is a common misconception that if you are sewing a heavier fabric, you should choose a needle with a higher number. However, the sizes indicated on the needle packaging (such as 75/11, 80/12, and 90/14) correspond with the weight of thread that you are using. As a general guide, a size 75/11 (very common) needle would be suited to a 40-weight thread (very common). Heavier threads such as 30-weight require larger needles (that are labelled with a higher number) and finer, lighter threads, such as 50 or 60 weight would require smaller needles (that are labelled with a lower number). It's a little tricky, but just remember that the finer needles have lower numbers, and the finer threads have higher numbers.
The Needle Type
The type of needle that you choose should be based on the type of fabric that you are sewing. The exceptions to this rule are metallic* and topstitch* needles, which are made for use with specific threads. Here is some information about needle types that you will find at Fabricana and other sewing supply stores.
1. Universal: This most common needle has a slightly rounded point, which makes it suitable for many fabrics, both woven and knit.
2. Jersey/Ball Point: This needle features a medium-sized ball point, and is made specifically for knits and some stretch fabrics.
3. Stretch: Like the Jersey/Ball point needle, the stretch needle also has a medium-sized ball point, but this needle has a special eye and scarf for use with fabrics that have a high level of spandex such as swimwear and activewear fabrics.
4. Microtex (Sharp): This needle features a very narrow, sharp point, making it suitable for finely woven fabrics such as microfiber, polyester, fine silk, lightweight faux leather, and laminated fabrics. The fineness of the needle allows for very precise sewing, which is great for topstitching or precise quilt piecing.
5. Jeans/Denim: Featuring a medium ball point and reinforced blade, this needle is made for sewing heavier woven fabrics such as denim, twill, or canvas. It is also suitable for quilting heavier fabrics.
6. Quilting: The slightly rounded point and special taper on this needle allow for easier fabric penetration, making it suitable for quilting light- to medium-weight fabrics.
7. Leather: Due to its special cutting point, this needle should not be used with traditional knit or woven fabrics since it will cut the yarns, creating holes or runs. This needle is made specifically for use with genuine leather, artificial leather, and other heavyweight, non-woven fabrics.
8. Topstitch*: This needle, with its extra-long eye, makes it the perfect choice when topstitching with heavier thread, multiple threads, or even poor quality thread (the long eye helps reduce breakage).
9. Metallic*: Like the topstitch needles, the metallic needle features a longer eye, making it suitable for use with metallic threads, which may tend to shred or break with smaller-eyed needles.