Sewing Machine Needle Guide: Needle Sizes, Types, & Chart!

Last Updated on 12 months by Susan Mayrich

It’s a good idea to know this sewing machine needle guide as it is the most important sewing machine accessory. It’s what pierces your fabric and helps to create a stitch.  We all know that sewing machines come with needles, but it can be hard to remember what sizes go with which machine or fabric. 

sewing machine needle guide

This can make it difficult when you need to replace your needle or if you want to experiment and try something different. You may also not know how many needles there are and the difference between various needles.

There are many different types of needles available for other purposes, so it’s essential you know which one you need for any given project. With this guide, it will be easy to find the right kind of needle size and type for every project. So, without further ado, let’s get started!


What Is A Sewing Machine Needle? 

A needle’s job is to pierce the fabric, such as cotton or denim, bypassing through its threads and creating loops called stitches at the other side. Sewing machine needles come in standard sizes from 8 to 18, with the lower numbers being larger and the higher numbers being smaller. Many people use sewing machine needles and knitting needles for hand knitting. 


Anatomy Of A Sewing Machine Needle: Parts Of A Sewing Machine Needle

The anatomy of a sewing machine needle is composed of parts that each have a specific job. It becomes easier to select the right needle for your project when you understand what each piece does.

The parts of a sewing machine needle are:


#1. Point

 This is the sharp end of the needle that pierces the fabric. The point must be sharp to penetrate the fabric without skipping or tearing it easily.


#2. Shank

This is the long part of the needle inserted into the sewing machine. It connects to the point and eye.


#3. Eye

This is the small hole at the top of the shank where you thread your fabric.


#4. Groove

This is the indentation that runs down the length of the shank. It helps to keep the thread in place as it passes through the eye of the needle.


#5. Throat

This is the opening at the back of the eye where the thread exits the needle.


#6. Long groove

The needle has a small hole from the shoulder to the eye. When the needle pierces the cloth, the thread stays in this slot and goes up and down.


#7. Scarf

The bulk of the needle is the eye’s area immediately above and below Its goal is to allow for a closer hook or looper setting to the needle.


#8. Blade

The portion of the needle from the shoulder to the eye nearest to the point. This area has the most friction between needle and cloth.


Types Of Sewing Machine Needles

The types of sewing machine needles are:


#1. A blunt point needle

It is a basic sewing machine for most fabrics, including cotton and woven synthetics. It has a round point and a small shaft.


#2. A ballpoint needle

It is designed for knits and hosiery fabrics as the rounded point prevents the fabric from snagging.


#3. A winged needle

It is used for quilting as it helps push the layers of fabric away from the needle while sewing, preventing them from being pulled down into the machine.


#4. A jeans needle

It has a special point that pierces heavy fabrics without compromising the threads. The sharp point makes it perfect for denim, and it’s used instead of a universal machine needle.


#5. A stretch sewing machine needle

It has a weaker shaft, allowing it to flex in contact with knits. This type of machine needle is needed when sewing jerseys or elasticated fabric. It’s also essential for sewing fleece or wearing apparel fabrics as it will prevent the needle from breaking in contact with these materials.


#6. Double needles

It is used to create two rows of stitching at once, making them perfect for finishing seams and hems.


#7. A leather machine needle

It is explicitly made for sewing through leathers, suedes, and other thick materials. It has a large, round shaft and a longer groove to prevent skipped stitches and breakage after much use.


#8. A topstitching needle

It is thicker than regular needles and designed for decorative stitching on fabric. It’s also used for creating quilting lines and heavy sewing fabrics like denim or leather.


#9. A twin needle

It is used to create two rows of stitching at once. It has two needles mounted on the same shaft and uses one bobbin for both threads. The second thread is obtained from a special spool placed above or below the fabric.


#10. Embroidery needles 

These are used with heavy embroidery threads and metallic threads.


#11. Quilting needles

 are similar to the blunt point needle, except they have a larger eye for use with thicker thread.


#12. Universal sewing machine needles

These are designed for use on most machines. They provide exceptional durability and precision over standard needles, so they are the preferred choice for many sewers.


What Are The Types Of Specialty Needles?

Specialty needles are a variety of needles designed for specific purposes. For example, a denim needle is used to sew denim, and a leather needle is used to sew through the leather.


#1. Quilting needles 

They have a larger eye hole to allow thicker thread. Embroidery needles are designed with heavy threads and metallic thread in mind.


#2. A topstitching needle

It is a type of needle designed for decorative stitching. It has a sharp point and a small, round eye. The needle is also longer than other types of needles, which allows it to penetrate multiple layers of fabric.


#3. A twin needle

It has two needles mounted together, with a mounting bar joining them. The needles are usually the same length and stitch from the same side of the fabric, but they can be different lengths, stitch from both sides or be in a staggered configuration.


Sewing Machine Needle Sizes Explained

The smaller the number, the finer the thread can go through. As you get further away from the higher numbers, your needle gets larger with a thicker fabric. The most common needle sizes are 80/12 and 90/14, but you can also find them in 60/8 or 70/10 if you have a serger or leather sewing machine–a finer needle may be better for cutting threads with these machines.




























You can also download the types of sewing needle guide in a pdf here sewing machine needle guide pdf


Sewing Machine Needle Chart




fine silks, organza, and sheer fabrics


Lightweight fabrics such as taffeta, lining fabric


for sheer, delicate silk

75/11 – 80/12

Cotton voile, spandex, lycra

90 (14)

Medium-heavy fabrics like calico, linen

100 (16)

Heavy fabric, belts, upholstery, and bag

110 (18)

Extra-heavy upholstery and fabric



How Often Should You Change Your Sewing Machine Needle?

I change my needle every time I use it because it starts to look grooved, and the fabric doesn’t go through. Typically needles will last about 10 hours of sewing or after about 1,000 ‘stitches’. Beginners should not sew more than 2,000 stitches an hour.

Be sure to clean your machine out regularly–sweat attracts dust that can snag your needle! Needles are inexpensive, so you don’t need to be too stingy with changing them when they show signs of wear.

This includes bending at the eye area where changes in tension tug the metal part around the shaft base–this creates micro-flat spots on each looping motion, which eventually lead to breaking or skipping stitches. No matter how well it sews, a dull point makes a poor stitch formation.


How To Insert A Sewing Machine Needle?

First, to insert a sewing machine needle, remove the old needle by turning it left to right. Be careful not to lose the needle clamp screw. The new needle should be inserted with the flat side of the shaft facing you and the groove on the top. The needle should also be inserted so that the point is facing down.

If using a double-needle, insert one of the needles with the flat side facing you and the groove on top. Insert the other needle with the point facing down, but make sure that both needles are inserted into the same hole. The needle clamp screw should be tightened after inserting the needle. When sewed, permanently remove the needle by turning it left to right. Be careful not to lose the needle clamp screw.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You’ll find a few answers related to the sewing machine needle:


How do I know what sewing machine needle to use?

The smaller the needle size, the lighter the fabric, and vice versa. The thread you’ll be using for your sewing project will usually influence the sort of needle you select.


What is a 90 14 needle used for?

90 14 needles are created for sewing medium-weight materials like jeans or leather, or when you sew with many layers of fabric at one time. This size needle will also help if your needle becomes dull, which can happen while thick sewing fabrics. When this happens, it is essential to change your needle right away to prevent damaging the fabric around the needle’s point.


What do the sewing machine needle numbers mean?

It is essential to know which size needle you should use when sewing depending on the weight of your fabric. The heights of needles have different effects according to what they are being used for.

  • 80/12-generally used for lightweight materials or fabric with many layers; this size is also used when using loose weave fabrics
  • 90/14-designed for medium-weight materials like denim, upholstery, etc.
  • 60/8-perfect for fine fabrics, silk, and material slimmer than 1 inch in thickness. It will also come in handy if the needle has become dull by quickly starting to break through the fabric’s surface layer around the point instead of seaming it together nicely as a regular machine stitch should do.


What is an excellent way to store needles, so they don’t get dull?

One way to keep your sewing machine needles from getting dull is using a magnetic needle keeper. This is a small, flat magnet that you can attach to your machine or work area. The magnet will hold the needles in place and keep them from becoming bent or dull.


What is a 100 16 needle used for?

A 100 16 needle is typically used for heavyweight fabrics and materials like upholstery, denim, thick canvas leather, and dense upholstery fabrics.


What is an 80 12 needle used for?

An 80 12 needle is generally used for lightweight materials or fabric with many layers, and this size is also used when using loose weave fabrics.


What is a size 14 sewing machine needle used for?

Size 14 (European 90) – used medium-weight fabrics like satin, rayon, gabardine, linen, chino, denim, or thick quilts.


What is a 70-10 needle used for?

A 70 10 needle is generally used for lightweight materials or fabrics with few layers. This size is also used with loosely woven fabrics,  duck, stitching denim, canvas, and other heavy fabrics. You may also be interested to know about sewing machine needle charts.


It’s A Wrap!

We are happy to know that you have come to know the sewing machine needle guide. Remember that the standard needle size for a sewing machine is #12/80. It’s used to sew lightweight fabrics and materials like silk or linen.

It’s also often chosen when the needle has become dull, as it will go through the fabric quicker without putting too much pressure on the material fibers. Read the article thoroughly to understand all the things. Thank you, friends, for being with us until the end!

You may also want to read about what size sewing machine needle for cotton and  how to identify sewing machine needle.

2 thoughts on “Sewing Machine Needle Guide: Needle Sizes, Types, & Chart!”

  1. the schmetz needles i got at walmart are too short for my Riccar 608. where do I find the right needles? what should I look for on length?

  2. The Bernina 807 manual says to insert the flat side of the needle facing away from you….


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