Finding the right sewing machine needle will make or break your project. Let’s find the right one.
When you are sewing a project on your sewing machine, you can’t just use any needle. There are certain types of needles for certain types of fabric. And if you want the sewing of your project to go smoothly, you need to have the right sewing machine needle. In this post, I will walk you through finding the right needle, and I also have a printable guide that you can keep with your sewing machine needles so you can always find the right needle for your project.
This post is part of a series for beginner sewers. You might also like these posts:
What sewing machine should you buy?
What thread to buy for your sewing machine?
5 tools you need to start sewing
11 more sewing tools you should have
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
What are the different parts of a sewing machine needle?
Here is a diagram of a needle so you can easily learn the parts of a sewing machine needle. The shank is the fattest part at the top and this goes into the sewing machine. It has a flat back, that faces the back of the sewing machine, so it is always facing the right way when being used. Below the shank is the shaft. The shaft has a groove in the front of it for the thread to sit in. On the back of the shaft is the scarf. The scarf aids in creating the stitch. At the bottom of the needle is the eye and point of the needle. The eye is where you place your thread. There are several types of points that are made for sewing with different types of fabric. There is universal, ballpoint, stretch, sharp, and jeans/denim.
What’s the difference in sewing machine needles?
Sewing machine needles have numbers on them. One number is the European number, and one is the American number. The European numbers range from 60 to 110 with 60 being the finest needle and 110 being the strongest needle. The American numbers range from 8 to 18 with 8 being the finest needle and 18 being the strongest needle. So if you have a needle that says 90/14, 90 is the European number and 14 is the American number. Most sewing machine needles will have both European and American sizing on them.
Another difference to make note of is the color of the needle. There are usually two colors. One color for the type of needle, and a second color for the size of the needle. I have another graphic here so you can easily tell what needle you need for your project. I generally buy Schmetz needles because they work with almost every at home sewing machine and are a good price.
There are also some specialty needles that might be fun to play with. There is a twin needle that has two needles on one shaft. This allows you to sew two rows at the same time. You will see stitches like this on the hem of a shirt or dress. They are usually made with a coverstitch machine, but you can mimic the effect with a twin needle.
Another specialty needle is the double eye needle. This needle has two eyes on one shaft and is used for two threads to create shading and texturing. This is used with woven and knit fabrics.
What sewing machine needle do I need?
Now that you know all the parts of a sewing machine needle and the different kinds, you can easily choose which needle you need for your project. You want to make your decision based on the type of fabric that you are using. After you know what kind of fabric you are using, then you can determine the type and size of needle you need to use. I put all the diagrams on one page that you can download below so you can have easy access to it at your sewing machine. Use this guide to determine which needle to use fo your project. Also, remember to change out your needle after every project, or after 8 hours of sewing.
Where should I buy sewing machine needles?
There are many places you can buy sewing machine needles. I generally go to my local sewing shop if I need something right away. Otherwise, I’ve found the best prices for Schmetz needles at Amazon.
How do I change my sewing machine needle?
Your sewing machine has a screw that keeps your needle in place. To remove the current needle, put a piece of paper under your presser foot and put your presser foot down. This will prevent your needle from falling into the bobbin casing underneath if you should drop the needle while changing it. Next, loosen the screw enough that your needle starts to slide out. Don’t unscrew the screw all the way. Grab your new needle, make sure the flat part of the shank is facing the back of the machine and hold it in place with your fingers. While you are holding it in place, tighten the screw with your other hand until it is finger tight. You don’t want to over tighten the screw because it can break, and it will be difficult to unscrew later.
I hope that this has helped you better understand sewing machine needles and how to use them. If you have any other questions, please ask in the comments below.
Download the full Sewing Machine Needle Diagram from my resource library and put it with your sewing machine for easy reference later.