Which Needle Do I Use?

One of the most common questions that customers ask us here in store is….. Which needle do I use? With so many needles on the market, it can be hard for people to understand which needle is the right one for their project. For the best possible answer we ask 3 further questions to determine which needle is the right one for your project.

Are you using a Domestic Sewing Machine?

Luckily 99% of domestic sewing machines take the same type of needle, as there are over 7,000 different kinds used across the world. The domestic sewing machine needles are most commonly known as system130/705H which is generally displayed on the front of the needle packaging like the packets below. These 130/705H needles have a flat shank and a scarf (indentation on the back of the needle).

Needle Packet Examples

If you need needles for an overlocker, coverstitch, semi industrial or industrial machine, there is a good chance that the needle system the machine needs is different than that of a domestic needle system. Overlockers and Coverstitch machines will most often have a sticker located on the front of the machine that indicates the needle system the machine uses.

Always check your manual for the correct needle system required for your machine for the best experience possible.

What Type of Fabric are you Sewing?

One of the most important questions is what type of fabric you are sewing. If the incorrect needle is used for the fabric, you may find you have skipped stitches, fabric puckers, ticking or popping sounds or perhaps some other issues. Each type of needle has its very own feature which aids its interaction with the fabric.

Some of the more commonly sewn fabrics are listed below with the suggested needle type:

  • Stretch fabrics such as elastic materials and highly elastic knitwear require Stretch needles which have a medium ball point. Most commonly, skipped stitches are a result when using an incorrect needle with stretch fabrics.
  • Knit fabrics need Jersey or also called Ball Point (SUK) needles. The ball point is designed to separate and slide between the knitted fibers rather than cutting into them keeping the integrity of the fabric.
  • Denim and tightly woven fabrics require Denim/Jeans needles. These needles feature a modified medium ball point with reinforced blade for tougher fabrics.
  • Polyester fabrics, micro fibers, batiks and silks need a needle with a very slim acute point like the Microtex also known as Sharp needles.
  • Leather and artificial leathers need needles that have a cutting point, the Leather needle is especially designed for this purpose.
  • Universal needles are one of the most commonly requested needle. They are an all-purpose type needle with a slight ball point, so can be used with some knits, but is still sharp enough to tackle many different fabrics and fabric layers. Ideal for someone who just needs needles for odd jobs on different types of fabrics.

For a more comprehensive guide, I would highly recommend the Schmetz Needle App. You can search for the fabric you are using and it will instantly show you the right needle to use. I love this feature and there are lots of other tips and information in there that is definitely worth having a look at.

What Thread are you Using?

The type and weight of the thread you are using determines the size of the needle. The diameter of the thread you want to use should be a maximum of 40% of the needles thickness. Thicker threads like Wonderfil Spagetti 12 weight thread, need a larger sized needle so it fits through the eye and fills the hole made in the fabric by the needle. The overall goal is for the needle to easily slide through your fabric without damaging any of the fabrics fibers or creating too large a hole, and to carry the thread smoothly without damaging it when sewing.

Wonderfil Spagetti Thread (12 weight) vs Rasant (40 weight)

The below table provides information on fabric type, thread type/weight and needle size. This table is located in all Janome sewing machine instruction manuals.

Needle Table from Janome Instruction Manual

The combination of system type, fabric to be sewn and thread selection leads us to the best possible answer of which needle should you use…. so your sewing experience is the most rewarding it can be.

Happy Sewing!