11/30 | Understanding Sewing Machine Needles

Understanding sewing machine needles can really help you take your sewing to the next level. It will also help you better identify and solve problems during the sewing process. A lot of troubleshooting can be done by making sure you are using the proper type and size of needle. Keep on reading to get all the details you’ll ever need to understanding sewing machine needles. At the very end, there is even a printable that you can download to keep handy at your sewing station!

Parts of the Needle

Shank: top part of the needle that goes into the sewing machine

Shaft: main part of the needle. Below the shank.

Front Groove: slit on the front of the needle where the thread sits while sewing which protects it from breaking.

Scarf: skinny space in the back of the needle which helps prevent skipped stitches. The scarf is longer on stretch needles to accommodate the fabric.

Eye: liked a hand-sewing needle, the eye is the hole where the thread goes, but the eye of a sewing machine needle is on the opposite side.

Kinds of Needles

Universal Needles: sharp and slightly rounded

Ball Point Needle: knit fabric- very round

Stretch Needle: knit fabric- very round with deeper scarf to prevent skipped stitches

Jean Needle: woven fabric- sharp, thick, round

Twin Needle: two needles connected so it can be put in the machine like one. The stitching on top is two parallel stitches with a zigzag on the bottom

Leather Needle: leather- sharp

Needle Sizes

Smaller needles are for thinner thread so that it can fit into the front groove. Larger needles are for thick thread but don’t work with thin thread because the thread will flap around inside the front groove and break.

70/10 Very Lightweight- for silk, chintz, and sheers

80/12 Lightweight- for cotton and quilting fabrics

90/14 Medium Weight- good general size

100/16 Medium to Heavyweight- denim, canvas, and duck

110/18 Heavyweight- upholstery, multiple layers of denim, canvas

Did you know all of that? Using the right needle for your fabric can be super important and change your whole project. Before I knew all this information about sewing machine needles I was constantly running into problems. That is why I like to keep this printable by my sewing machine at all times so that I can reference it. Get yours below!