How To Choose The Correct Sewing Machine Needle

Choosing sewing machine needles can be a real challenge at times.  There are so many different ones to choose from.  They are made in different sizes (but lengths are standard) and types depending upon the fabric type and the fabric thickness that you are sewing. The sizes range from SIZE 9 which is a fine needle, to SIZE 18 which is a coarse needle.  The first, larger number of a sewing machine needle is the European metric sizing number, and the smaller number is the US standard sizing number. (90/14) Coarser needles are not used as often with home sewers, unless you are sewing a heavy fabric like a thick denim, not the soft stretchy denim that most jeans are made of today.  The higher the needle number the thicker the needle will be.  Smaller needles tend to have a smaller eye, so you may need to use a needle threader to get the thread through it.

The type of point on a needle is just as important as the size of the needle.  There are regular or sharp point needles, which are more commonly used, and there are ball-point needles which are recommended for sewing knits. The rounded point on ball point needles tend to slide between the yarns easier and are not pierced unlike a regular point needle.  When sewing leather, there is a leather needle which has a wedge point designed to penetrate the leather as well as vinyls, to reduce splitting of the fabric.

Twin and triple needles are a whole other ball game!  These needles are used for decorative purposes.  Some like to use them when sewing knit hems, but you must use a ball point for that. Twin needles come in multiple sizes as well.  For example, there are 2.0/90, 3.0/90, 4.0/90, 6.0/90, etc.  The smaller number is the distance between the two needles in millimeters.  The larger number is the millimeter needle size. (90 is a size 14 needle). Needles range in value of being expensive or even cheap.  They are sold in fabric stores, online, and even in dollar stores. But, which ones should you choose? The choice is yours as to which brand you think is better.  Personally, I’d try different ones to see which ones work good for your machine as well as your fabric. 

Choose the right needle based upon the fabric that you are sewing.  Below is helpful chart in determining which needle size to purchase for different fabrics.

Needle Sizing Chart With Fabric Recommendations
Fabrics Needle Size
Lightweight or soft woven: Size 9, 10, or 11 regular
chiffon, organza, fine lace, tulle, silk, use ball point for lightweight knits.
lingerie, soft velvet
Medium weight or soft woven: Size 11 or 14 regular
velvet, velveteen, gingham, batiste, crepe, use size 14 ball point for knits
corduroy, jersey, some double knits, and
some sweater knits, linen, poplin, soft denim
Heavy (soft):  Size 14 or 16 regular
fleece, velours, wide corduroy, terry cloth, use size 14 or 16 ball point for knits
some coating fabrics, stretch velours, some
fake furs, and some sweater knits
Heavy (crisp or thick): Size 16 or 18 regular for wovens
heavy suiting, burlap, canvas, upholstery fabric use 14 or 16 ball point for knits
double-faced wool, sailcloth, some denims,
some gabardines, some coating fabrics, some
tweeds, some jacquards, some double knits
Leathers & vinyls (lightweight): Size 11 or 14 leather needle
depending on the thickness of the leather or
vinyl, choose needle


  1. This was so nicely explained.
    Thank you so much!!! Really excited to go pick the needles that I need for my project :)


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