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sewing machine needles
Sewing machine needles

First rule of sewing machine needles: They need changing more frequently than you might think - it's recommended after every 8 hours of sewing. If you notice jumped or uneven stitches, a blunt needle may well be the cause.

It's important to use the correct sewing machine needle size and type for your sewing projects.

Here's a quick guide to help you select the correct sewing machine needle.

Needle Sizes

  • You will probably notice 2 sizes on machine needles. E.g.: 80 / 12. These are simply European / US sizes.

  • The lower the number, the thinner/finer the needle. European sizes range from 60 (thinnest) to 110 (thickest), whilst American sizes range from 8 to 18.

  • You select the thickness or type of needle based on the fabric you're using.

Some popular fabric types and their recommended needle sizes:

70 / 10 - Voile, silk, chiffon, organza, lace

80 / 12 - Light to medium cotton, light denim, chambray, gingham, velvet, linen

100 / 16 - Upholstery, heavy denim, corduroy, canvas, tweed, oilcloth

Needle Types


These are general-purpose needles, suitable for woven and some knitted fabric. You'll choose a finer (lower number) needle for fine fabrics, and a thicker needle for heavier fabrics.


These have a rounded tip and are suitable for knitted fabrics such as jersey. The rounded needle finds a path around the fabric fibres rather than piercing them, to prevent holes / laddering.


Stretch fabrics such as lycra are notoriously tricky to work with, so a stretch needle will help you. It has a 'scarf' which will help prevent skipped stitches, and a rounded tip as per a ball point needle.


These have a super-strong point to pierce through several layers of fabric, plus an extra-strong shaft to minimise breakage when sewing through multiple layers.


Not only great for denim, but any other densely woven fabric such as canvas. Denim needles have a very sharp point and a reinforced shaft to give extra strength when sewing through tough fabrics.


The point of a leather needle is slightly V-shaped, to pierce tough leather with ease.


If you're working decorative embroidery stitches, you will want to select an embroidery needle. The risk of skipped stitches is greater when embroidering, so this needle is designed to minimise skipped stitched. For example, the eye is larger, to allow thread to pass through more freely.

Happy sewing!

Kate xx

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