Sewing Needle Sizes Guide

Last updated: October 19th, 2022

A sewing machine gets its ability to sew only by the needle. Each needle creates different stitches and knowing about them is essential to do a perfect job with your projects. The difference between broken threads-skipped stitches and professional seam can be addressed using the right size and type of sewing needle. In this article, let us walk through various sizes and types of needles used for various sewing purposes.

Sewing Machine Needle Parts

All sewing machine needles comprise the same basic parts which are as follows:

Shank: it is the thick upper part of the sewing machine needle. The shank is inserted into the machine. The home sewing machine needles have a flat side and a round side for proper fitting and proportioning of the needle. To fit the needle properly to your machine, refer to your machine manual.

Shaft: the first end of the shank to the bottom of the needle refers to the shaft. The shaft comprises the groove, eye, scarf, and point of the needle.

Groove: a groove refers to the side of the shaft that leads the thread to the eye. The size of the groove differs according to the size of the needle.

Scarf: the groove out of one side is known as the scarf. The scarf takes up the thread from the bobbin case and helps in forming stitches.

Eye: the eye of the needle holds the thread to form stitches. The eye of the needle also changes along with the size of the groove to hold a bigger thread.

Point: the needlepoint comes to contact first with the fabric and pierces the fabric taking the needle through. Various types of points include sharp needles, ballpoint needles, and universal needles.

Sewing machine needles

The size of the sewing machine needle differs based on the type and purpose of the needle. When you are buying a needle for a sewing machine, you can see on the package, two numbers divided by a slash. For instance, in 80/12, the larger number denotes the thickness of the needle.

The number comprises both the American system and the European system of labeling. The smaller number refers to the American system and it ranges from 8 to 19 while the large number refers to the European system and it ranges from 60 to 120.

Understanding the numbers will help you in choosing the right needle for your machine. In both systems, the higher the number, the thicker is the needle. The common sewing machine needle that is widely used in domestic use are 60/8, 70/10, 75/11, 80/12, 90/14 and 100/16

How To Select The Thickness Of The Needle

By looking at the thickness size of the needle, you can select the thickness of the fabric. The thickest of the needle can be used to sew the thickest fabric. On the other hand, the finer fabrics can be sewed using smaller numbers of needles.

For instance, the needle 60/8 can be used to stitch the finest fabrics such as silk or organza and the 110/18 can be employed to sew materials such as denim and canvas. If you sew fabrics of ranging thickness, you can get a packet of an assorted range of needles comprising all ranges of needles.

  • 8/60, 9/65, 10/70: It is used to sew various fabrics such as chiffon, fine silk, organza, fine lace, and voile
  • 11/75, 12/80: these needles are used to sew light fabrics including silk, cotton voile, spandex, synthetics, and lycra.
  • 14/90: it is used to sew medium-weight fabrics such as cotton, velvet, quilting fabric, linen, fine corduroy, muslin, jersey, knits, tricot, light wool, fleece, knit, and more.
  • 16/100: this needle is employed to sew heavy-weight fabric such as denim, corduroy, canvas, duck suiting, and leather.
  • 18/110: this needle is used to stitch very heavy materials such as heavy, denim, canvas, upholstery fabric, faux fur, and more.
  • 20/120: this is the thickest needle. It is used to sew extra heavy fabric.

Types Of Sewing Machine Needles

Along with the size of the needle, the type of needle also plays a huge role in the finesse of the projects. Let us take a look at some of the most sewing machine needle types:

Universal needles: the universal needles are used commonly and it is used to sew most of the fabrics including woven and non-stretchy knits. The universal needle has a slightly rounded point.

Ballpoint needles: the ballpoint needle is employed for sewing tightly woven fabrics and knit fabrics with minimal stretch factor. It is usually used for fabrics such as cotton, polyester, and polyester cotton. The point of the needle is well rounded making it easy to slip through the fibers without cutting through them.

Jersey needles: it is used to sew knit fabrics with a medium stretch factor. These needles also have a rounded tip and prevent the formation of holes.

Stretch needles: as the name suggests, it is used for fabrics with maximum stretch factors such as lycra and swimwear fabric. It is also used to sew elastic.

Leather needle: from the name you would have understood that this needle is used for sewing leather and vinyl. Unlike the above-mentioned needles, the leather needle possesses a sharp point that can pierce through the leather.

Quilting needles: it is a strong type of needle that is used to pass through layers of fabric and batting.

There are various other needle types such as topstitch needle, micro text needle, and double-needle. Pay attention to the size while you are selecting each type of needle.


If you are a regular sewer, then it is essential that you have an assorted range of needles for different types of fabrics. If you are a beginner, you don’t want all the needles; instead, get some of the basic needles that fit your machine.

WRITTEN BY Aman Sharma

Aman Sharma is a content writer who specializes in creating compelling, informative content. His writing style is engaging and easy to read, making it perfect for online readers. Aman is also an expert in social media marketing and knows how to use social media to promote your content.

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