Flat rate tracked domestic shipping of $11.95 with FREE domestic postage for orders over $170 AUD

How to choose the right needle for your sewing project

Tin of Sewing Machine Pins

One of the quickest ways to make sure you start your sewing project right is to have the best needles for the job. Choosing the correct needle is often overlooked by newbies, and admittedly me when I first started sewing. Oops. I've created this blog as a starting point for your needle education, no one held my hand when I started and this was definitely something I had no idea about!

To give you an idea, Needles come in types such as Ballpoint, Universal, Sharps, and some speciality kinds like leather, denim and microtex for more complex fabrics. The other consideration is how heavy is the fabric you are sewing? Most needle types will come in different sizes ranging from 70 (for lightweight fabrics) Through to 120 (for that heavy canvas).

First, you'll need to see what kind of needles your machine takes, most modern machines take the type with a flat back, which makes them super easy to insert and place correctly. Make sure the flat side faces the rear, and insert them as high up into their holder as you can before tightening. Like so:

How to screw a sewing machine needle in place

Then consider what your project is. Are you sewing a dress from light woven poplin? A t-shirt from a medium weight jersey? Or even a coat from heavyweight woven wool? Each of these will require their own type of needles. A good place to start is to grab a few multi-size packs of universals to sew most woven fabrics, and if you are planning on sewing stretch jersey fabrics, grab some Ballpoint and Stretch Needles in a multi-size pack too.

So how do you decide which needle for what project? The best choice is to consider the fabric you’re using. Using the examples above, a light fabric such as poplin would benefit from a size 70 or 80 Universal needle, but if you’re sewing that coat with heavyweight wool, try a size 90 or 100.  Keep some larger fabric scraps from when you cut your pattern pieces out to see how each needle size behaves with a quick test on your sewing machine. You can then decide which has a better result.

As for that jersey t-shirt, stretch knitted fabrics require a completely different needle type to the woven fabrics above, they require either ballpoint or stretch. Needles for wovens have a sharp point to punch through the fabric and will cause holes in knits, while a ballpoint or stretch needle has a rounded point, to glide in between the yarns. Ballpoints can do a lot of simpler jerseys but if you're looking at super stretchy lycra, try out a stretch first.

There are a few outlier needle types such as denim, metallic and microtex. They're normally pretty self explanatory (except maybe microtex, think microtextiles, fiddly tiny yarns.)  So when you go to buy your fabric, check there isn't a specific needle just for that kind of fabric. Microtex needles can also be a good backup if you have a thinner fabric that's to sew, think rayon and silk.

Finally either buy your needles as you buy your fabric to make sure you have them on hand when you need them or stock up when they're on sale in the types you know you'll use. It's much, much better to have a stash then break one mid-project and need to go to the store to continue! Hence my pin tin picture above (bonus points if you recognise the character kupo!)

Let me know if you have any more needle-y advice in the comments!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published