The right sewing machine needle for quilting

Posted by Alfonsina Uriburu on

Choosing the right needle for your quilting project can make your stitches perfect! However, the wrong can cause skipped stitches, tension issues or broken threads and even holes in your fabric. 

Read on to find out all about sewing machine needles and keep them organized, making this easy needle case and keep track of your needles!

Sewing Machine Needle Parts

A sewing machine needle looks simple but has many different parts.

quilting needles

  • The shank is the part that seats into your sewing machine; the flat side usually goes towards the back and the rounded side towards the front. Some specialty needles may have a completely round shank for industrial or serger sewing machines.
  • The groove runs in the front of the needle to the eye. The thread is seated securely in this groove when the needle penetrates the fabric. You can feel the groove bypassing your fingernail over the front of the needle.
  • The eye of the needle is where the thread passes from the front to the back. Different types of needles will have different types of eyes.
  • The scarf is located on the BACK of the needle and is a smooth indentation behind the eye. You can easily find the scarf with your finger. The scarf is where the hook passes to pick up the top thread from the needle to pass it around the bobbin to create a lock stitch and can be shaped differently on various types of needles.
  • The point is the first part of the needle to penetrate the fabric. Different types of needles will have different points engineered to work best with specific kinds of fabrics.

Sewing needle size chart

Needles come in various sizes noted by a set of numbers. The European sizing system gauges the needle diameter in fractions of a millimeter, while the American size is usually a smaller number. The smaller the number, the finer the needle. Basic needle sizes are as follows.

For very fine or lightweight fabrics: use size 60/8 or 65/9

For lightweight fabrics: use size 70/10 or 75/11

For medium weight fabrics: use size 80/12 or 90/14

For heavyweight fabrics: use size 90/14 or 100/16

For very heavy fabrics: use size 110/18

Needle Types

  • Universal – This is one of the most commonly used needles and is generally the needle that comes with the sewing machine. It has a slightly rounded point and can be used on both knit and woven fabric.
  • Jean/Denim – This needle has a very sharp point and is best used for denim, jean or other heavyweight fabric. That it is also good to use if stitching through multiple layers of fabric.
  • Ball Point – This needle has a slightly rounded tip and is best used on knit fabrics. This type of needle can help eliminate runs or puckers in the fabric.
  • Leather - use for leather, imitation leather and heavy on woven fabric.
  • Stretch -similar to ballpoint but a slightly different shape. Use for jersey, knits, lycra and elastic knitwear.
  • Microtex - for delicate fabrics such as chiffon, crepes, brocade, and silk. It requires regular changing.
  • Twin/Triple-needle - commonly used for hemming garments made from stretch fabric.
  • Wing needle - literally punches a hole into your fabric while the sewing machine stitches around the piercing. 
  • Super NON-STICK needle - With extra-large eye is suitable for embroidery work. The eye corresponds to a needle two sizes larger (i.e., the 70/10 NonStick eye is similar to a size 90/14 regular Universal eye). Distinctive scarf with the special design of the eye ensures the prevention of skipped stitches. Slightly rounded point provides trouble-free sewing on most materials. Strong conical blade reinforcement easily handles thick fabrics like denim. (by Schmetz).
  • Quilting Needles - have a delicate, slightly rounded point to help penetrate thick layers (like a quilt with batting) without damaging the materials. These needles also work well for topstitching or precise patchwork.
  • Metallic/Topstitch – Both of these needles have a larger eye. Helpful when sewing with metallic thread and with other quilting thread that is thicker and may shred when going through the eye of a smaller needle.
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    sewing Needle

    Make an easy needle case

    So how do you make sure you are choosing the right needle for the sewing project you’re making?  Keep track of your needles making this easy needle case.
    1. Cut 10” squares of batting, solid color and printed cotton fabric. You should have 3 squares.
    2. Trace grid lines with soluble pen onto the solid color fabric.
    3. Use black thread to stitch the continuous grid you see in the picture. using the batting as backing.
    4. Place the printed and solid color fabrics right sides together.
    5. Stitch around all sides leaving a 1/2" space for turning.
    6. Clip your corners to reduce bulk prior to turning.
    7. Topstitch around all sides.
    8. Use a permanent pen to write the types and sizes of needles you use on the solid color fabric.

    Side Threading needles for hand stitch

    These needles are the perfect solution for someone who has difficulty threading a needle.

    Handicap or self-threading needles have an ever-so-slight slit at the side of the needle close to the eye. Sliding the thread against the side of the needle allows it to easily slide into the eye of the needle.


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    • Thanks for the great idea
      I’m going back home now to pick my fabrics and do it

      Joyce on

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