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How to Choose Sewing Machine Needles

by Maegan Crandall

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Spools of thread

Choosing needles for a sewing machine may seem like an easy task that takes very little forethought. In actuality, needles need to be chosen on a project-by-project basis, with the weight and texture of your fabric in mind. Some people prefer to stick with the universally sized needles that accompany their sewing machine, but for certain jobs, these needles will cause the tension to be off and stitches to start dropping. For these reasons, choosing sewing machine needles can be a complicated process. Use our tips to ensure that you are getting the correct sewing machine needles for your sewing project.

Choosing Sewing Machine Needles:

  1. Carefully considering the fabric type that you are using will help you select a good sewing machine needle for your project. Different needles have different points and shapes, so choosing the needle with the right point is important. A sharp-point needle is appropriate for woven fabrics, while other fabrics, such as stretchy knits, will require a ball-point needle. Wedge-point needles are needed when using unyielding fabric, such as leather, vinyl and suede. Many times, this information will be available when you are purchasing the needles, but sometimes, you might require a needle that comes with very little information, so it is important to know what you need before shopping.

  2. Considering the fabric's weight is also important when choosing sewing machine needles. Smaller needles will not be able to handle heavy fabrics, such as denim and leather, and will most likely break when you try to use them on these fabric types. However, using a needle that is too big for the project can damage the fabric. American needles range in size from 9 for delicate fabrics, such as fine lace, voile, organza, silk and chiffon, to size 19 for heavy fabrics, such as upholstery, canvas, denim and ticking. Choosing the right type of needle for your fabric's weight will save you money and frustration by helping you avoid damaging your needles and fabric.

  3. Thread type and size are also important components to choosing the right sewing machine needle. Depending on how thick and heavy the thread is, you will need a needle with an eye large enough to accommodate it. You won't be able to thread the needle if the eye is too small. On the other hand, using delicate thread with large needles can damage the thread or create tension problems while sewing.

  4. Specialty needles will be required for certain projects. If you are working on a sewing project that requires special stitching, such as topstitching, machine quilting or embroidery, then you will need needles that can handle the job. Shop thoughtfully and take good care of your needles in order to make the best investment and keep your sewing projects professional.

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