How To Identify Sewing Machine Needles? 4 Best Tips!

Last Updated on 12 months by Susan Mayrich

Are you wondering how to identify sewing machine needles? When choosing a needle type, think about your fabric. If it’s thick or heavy, you might want to try using a thicker needle with a giant eye or ballpoint.

How to identify sewing machine needles

If you’re sewing on knitwear or lightweight fabric, you can use a universal or needlepoint arrow instead. There are several different types of sewing machine needles.

These include embroidery, quilting, universal (general purpose), ballpoint (heavy duty), and needlepoint (for denim). As you dive into this article, you’ll find all you need to know about the machine’s needles. So let’s have fun!


What Is A Sewing Machine Needle?

A sewing machine needle is a type of needle with a point that is mounted on a shaft and can move vertically, horizontally, and diagonally. The post is mounted vertically to the base of the machine. The horizontal axis points from left to right, creating the point at which the needle moves up and down. The diagonal axis moves from front to back.

This allows more control over feed placement when sewing curves, bullion knots, and other decorative stitches. Most sewing machines come with a needle threader. This means that your device will have an area where you insert the thread into a hole to pull it through the eye of the needle.  You then pull both ends of the thread until they are even. This will allow you to draw the line through the needle.


Sewing Machine Needle Sizes

Understanding what a sewing needle size means is  The higher the number, the smaller the needle.

The 60/8 is an excellent example of this. It’s an overall size for lightweight fabrics and anything sheer, like chiffon. The 60 represents the size of the needle in millimeters.

After this number, you’ll see the letter “H” or “J,” which shows whether it is a household sewing machine needle or a ballpoint sewing machine needle.

If there are no letters after the number, it is a Universal sewing machine needle. Other numbers and letters after the 60/8 indicate the thickness of the shaft and the type of eyehole on the needle.


Tips To Identify Sewing Machine Needles

A sewist or tailor can identify the right needle to use for your fabric by using one of the following techniques: touch the material to determine the fiber type; open up a few threads of fabric and see if it’s translucent enough for light to shine through; wet the cloth and see how it darkens. Now, here are the tips on how to identify sewing machine needles:


#1. Embroidery and quilting needles

Embroidery needles, also known as sharps, are designed with a sharp point,t, so they quickly go through thick fabrics such as multiple layers of denim. They have a small eye for threading cotton and polyesters quickly.

Generally, you’ll use an embroidery needle if you are sewing 2-3 layers of denim, but it can be used on lighter-weight fabrics as well. Quilting needles are designed with a sharp point for maneuvering in tight spaces when quilting three or more layers of fabric together.

They also have small eyes that can easily weave in and out of heavyweight, thick fabrics quickly and easily, while the sharp point glides through multiple layers. You’ll want to use a quilting needle when sewing three or more layers together, and if you’re planning on using thicker embroidery threads such as #12 and #14-#16 Perle cotton for decorative stitching.


#2. Universal needles

Universal needles are designed for general sewing purposes. They are the best fit for most fabrics ranging from light to medium weight but can also be used on heavy fabric as well. Universal needles have a slightly rounded tip, unlike embroidery and quilting needles with a sharp point. This feature enables them to pierce through many layers of fabric at once. They are also used for sewing on buttons.


 #3. Ballpoint needles

Ballpoint needles have a slightly rounded tip, rather than a sharp point like embroidery and quilting needles, so they glide smoothly through knitted fabrics such as sweaters. The slightly sharp point prevents the stitches from catching or snagging in knitwear. Generally, you’ll use a ballpoint needle when sewing on knits. You may also be interested to know about type of sewing machine needles.


#4. Needlepoint needles

These needles are similar to universal needles, but they have an even more rounded tip for sewing on heavy or denim fabrics. They also work well with knitwear and very thick fabrics, such as terry cloth and chenille. This type of needle can also be used for sewing on buttons.


It’s A Wrap!

If you are a seamstress or tailor, understanding what needles to use for your fabric is simple. The higher the number on the needle size, the smaller it becomes. For example, 60/8s are fantastic for lightweight materials and anything sheer like chiffon. Knowing how many layers of denim you want to sew together will help determine which type of sewing machine needle you should also be using.

If all else fails, remember that Universal needles work best with most fabric weights ranging from light to medium weight materials. In contrast, ballpoint needles are typically used when sewing knits, such as sweaters.

Other types may catch in quickly because they have a slightly rounded tip instead of a sharp point, similar to embroidery and quilting needles. This is all about how to identify sewing machine needles! You may also want to read about why does my needle keep unthreading and can you use a double needle on any sewing machine.

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