What are different types of sewing needles?

What are different types of sewing needles?

The needle was one of humankind’s first tools. Over the centuries it developed from a simple craft item into a precision tool for modern sewing machines, constantly adapted for new industrial applications and requirements. Choose your needle size based on the type and weight of thread that is being used as well as the fabric that is being sewn. The goal is to have the needle slide easily through the fabric without damaging the fibers or creating too large of a hole and to carry the thread smoothly without damaging it while sewing.

Needles come in a wide range of sizes, designated by numbers: low-numbered needles are longer and thicker, whereas high-numbered ones are shorter and thinner. You will need an assortment of long to medium-length round-eyed needles called Sharps, and some short, stubby needles called Betweens. Sharps are used for most hand-sewing tasks; use size 3 for sewing through many thicknesses, size 3 or 4 for marking stitches such as tailor tacks, size 5 or 6 for basting, padding stitches on interfacing, and on medium-weight lapels, sizes 5–8 for sewing garment fabric or linings, and size 8 or 9 for fine details such as hemming and padding stitches on lightweight lapels. Betweens, being stronger, are for sewing extra-thick fabrics; use size 4 for basting, sizes 5 and 6 for sewing on buttons, sizes 6 and 7 for hand-working buttonholes, and sizes 6–9 for fine hand sewing, such as padding stitches.

Important points to remember:

  • Needles do not last forever; they should be replaced approximately every eight hours of sewing.
  • The eye of the needle should be 40 percent larger than the diameter of the thread.
  • When going to a larger size of thread, a larger needle should be used.
  • Use the appropriate needle for the type of fabric being sewn.

Learn to Use the Right Needle For Any Fabric You Sew

Choose needle size according to thread thickness and needle type according to fabric application.

General Purpose Needles

Size: 60/8, 65/9, 70/10, 75/11, 80/12, 90/14, 100/16, 110/18, 120/19, Assorted, Twin, Triple
Feature: Slightly rounded point.
Fabric Use: Numerous - woven and knits. A great general purpose needle.

Jersey (Ball Point) 

Size: 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, 100/16, Assorted
Feature: Medium ball point.
Fabric Use: Knits and some stretch fabrics. Made especially for sewing on knits. The medium ball point does not damage or break knit fibers.


Size: 65/9, 75/11, 90/14, Twin
Feature: Medium ball point, special eye and scarf.
Fabric Use: Elastic materials and highly elastic knitwear. The medium ball point, specially designed eye and scarf prevent skipped stitches.

Specialty NeedlesJeans

Size: 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, 100/16, 110/18, Assorted Twin
Feature: Modified medium ball point and reinforced blade.
Fabric Use: Denim and similar fabrics. Advanced point design is a SCHMETZ exclusive. For penetrating extra thick woven fabrics, denims, or quilts with minimum needle deflection, reduced risk of needle breakage and skipped stitches.


Size: 75/11, 90/14, Assorted Twin
Feature: Light ball point, wide eye and groove.
Fabric Use: Use with rayon, polyester and other specialty embroidery threads. The special scarf, widened groove and enlarged eye protect fragile threads and guards against excess friction allowing trouble-free embroidery and decorative stitching.

Super NonStick 

Size: 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, 100/16
Feature: Anti-adhesive coating (NIT), extra large eye, distinctive scarf, and reinforced blade prevent skipped stitches and provides a residue-free needle.
Fabric Use: Use when sewing with embroidery stabilizer, temporary spray adhesive, or self-adhesive hook & loop tape.


Size: 75/11, 90/14 Assorted
Feature: Special taper to the slightly rounded point.
Fabric Use: Made especially for piecing and machine quilting. The special tapered design allows easier penetration and helps eliminate skipped stitches.


Size: 100, 120, Twin
Feature: A wing on each side of the needle.
Fabric Use: Light or medium weight loosely woven fabrics. Popular for heirloom sewing and to create decorative cutwork.

Gold Embroidery 

Size: 75/11, 90/14
Feature: Titanium Nitride coating, slightly rounded point and enlarged eye.
Fabric Use: Coarse and densely woven materials. Slightly rounded point and enlarged eye are perfect for embroidery on most fabrics and with the most fragile specialty threads. Titanium coating resists adhesives, improves needle wear and penetration of coarse and densely woven fabrics.


Size: 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, 100/16, 110/18, Assorted
Feature: Cutting point.
Fabric Use: Leather, artificial leather, heavy non-woven synthetics. Do not use on knit or woven fabrics.


A. It’s a good idea to change out for a new needle every three or four projects or eight hours of sewing time. Every time the needle makes a stitch, it penetrates multiple layers of fabric and dulls a little bit. A dull needle causes skipped stitches, can damage your fabric, is prone to breaking, and can cause thread jams.

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