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Which needle should you be using?

Date Posted:28 February 2022 

Each needle type is specifically designed to penetrate a certain fabric. Changing needles was not so necessary in the days when fabrics were only made of natural fibres. Today, modern fabrics like stretch knits, synthetics, etc. are used every day. However, when using these fabrics, changing the needle to match the type of fabric is important to gain the best stitch quality.

anatomy of needle

Anatomy of a needle

Shank: The section of the needle that is inserted into the machine. Round side to the front. Flat section to the back.

Groove: The thread lies in the groove as the needle shaft penetrates the fabric.

Scarf: Enables the stitch to be picked up. The scarf design varies according to the type of needle.

Size: Indicates the diameter of the needle blade often shown as 2 values (European/American).

Needle point shapes

needle point types

Using the incorrect type of needle can cause skipped stitches and produce poor quality stitching. Many sewing problems can be avoided by regularly changing your needle and selecting the correct needle for the job. Below is a list of the basic machine needles and a guideline of which fabric is best suited to the needle type.

Needle Type

Embroidery Needles  
Available in Ceramic and Chrome.

All fabric types.
You do not need to change your needle for different fabrics when doing machine embroidery.

Large Eyelet Embroidery Needles  

For use with glow in the dark threads.

If you are experiencing issues when using a standard embroidery needle with metallic threads, we suggest trying this needle.

Universal Needles  

Chiffon, Georgette, Fine Lace, Organdy Net, Tulle, Batiste, Voile, Lawn, Gingham, Muslin, Poplin, Gabardine, Broadcloth, Linen, Velvet, Fake Fur, Wool, Curtain Fabrics.

Ballpoint/Jersey Needles  

Jersey - Wool, Cotton & Synthetic.

Stretch/Knit Needles  

Tricot, Lingerie Fabrics, Interlock, Double Knit, Fleecy, Lycra, Spandex.

Quilting Needles  

For use with a quilt sandwich consisting of usually three layers:
1 x cotton quilt top, 1 x batting & 1 x cotton quilt backing.

Jeans or Denim Needles  

Denim, Sailcloth, Canvas, Shadecloth, Corduroy.

Leather Needles  

Leather, Suede, Vinyl, Rubber Backed Curtains.

Other Speciality Needles

Overlocker Needles

All fabrics (finer fabrics use a finer needle)

Topstitch Needles

Has an extra-large eye and deeper groove for use with heavier topstitching or decorative threads.

Hemstitch or Wing Needles

Are designed for decorative stitching on tightly woven fabrics.

Wide wing blades or fins on each side of the shank create openings in tightly woven fabric such as linen and batiste fabric to resemble entredeux trim.

Twin Needles

Are generally used for topstitching on garments.

Two needles are put on a single crossbar to create perfectly parallel, multiple rows of stitching in one pass using a single bobbin thread.

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