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Sewing Needle Guide

Recently, I went to purchase some sewing needles for my sewing machine. I quickly became confused with all of the options in front of me. What were all these numbers? What did they mean? Which one should I choose? I had a lot of questions and very few questions. So I decided to the most reasonable thing I could think of. Go in depth! I wanted answers and this post is the result of what I found out.

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The Types of Needles

Needles are used for a variety of work ranging from fine details to heavy duty fabric work. In this section I want to delve into the different types of needles/work that needles try to do.


Just as the name suggests, this needle is used for general all-purpose work. That can range from woven fabric to even some knitted fabric. But just like with many universal thing, this needle is a jack-of-all-trades. Good at some but master of none.

Quick threading

Quick-threading needles are universal needle with a slip in threading slot which makes threading easier. This is the only difference from a universal applicable type of needle.

Double eye

A double eye needle is a needle with two eyes. This is used when two threads are being used for topstitching, shading, and texturing effects as well as embroidery. While a cool needle, I don’t think this is a necessary needle type to carry in my arsenal.


The stretch needle is a medium sized needle that has a special eye and scarf which is designed to prevent skipped or missed stitches. This needle is used on elastic fabrics and materials.


The jersey needle is one of medium size which is used for knit or stretch fabrics. One highlight for this needle is that it won’t break, or damage knit fibers.


Just like the title suggests, this needle is used for denim (or jean) type fabric. This includes canvas and upholstery fabrics or those consisting of the same weight or significant similarities. This needle tends to be a medium size needle with a reinforced blade.

hemstitch / wing

This needle is a unique as it has a wing on both sides of the needle. The purpose of the wing is to open the fabric fibers and create a decorative stitch. This is generally used on a machine that can do a zig-zag stitch. This type of needle works well on light or medium weight, loosely woven fabric.

double hemstitch

A double hemstitch needle is a combination of a winged needle and a universal needle. This type of needle is generally used for decorative stitching in dual rows on light or medium weight fabrics that have been loosely woven.


This needle can do leather work as it has a wedge shaped point and a tri-point knife edge to penetrate the leather. This allows for the needle to go through leather and leather-adjacent fabric (vinyl, faux leather) without ripping the fabric.


The use of metallic threads also called for a unique needle. This needle has a long-elongated eye, a fine shaft, a sharp point, and a deep scarf in front of the needle. There attribute help eliminate skipping stitches in the fabric and prevents the thread from fraying.


A microtex needle is a fine (or slim) needle with a very sharp point intended to work on silk or microfibers. This needle is targeted for more delicate fabrics.


A quilting needle tampers down to a sharp point to create multiple seams and address layers easier. The point on the needle helped prevent any mitigation of the batting through the fabric.


This needle has a light ball point or a larger eye and deeper scarf in the front of the needle. This function guards against excess friction and protects threads are they are pulled through the fabric.

embroidery gold

This is a highly specialty needle that are made from titanium with a nitride coating. They also have a slightly rounded point and an enlarged eye. The coating allows the needle to resist any adhesive residue on fabrics. This type of needle works well with coarse or densely woven fabrics as well as fragile specialty threads.

embroidery spring

The embroidery spring needle has a spring wrapped around the needle. This lets the needle have free motion to embroider on lighter weight fabrics. The spring keeps pressure on the fabric to avoid stretching while being embroidered.


The twin needle is in fact two needles, hence the name. They can only be used on a zig-zag machine. This needle is perfect for sewing pin tucks and decorative seams.

stretch twin

The stretch twin needle is two stretch needles (see above) mounted together to create two rows of stitchwork at the same time.


This needle has an extra-long eye to accommodate heavy thread or multiple threads. The needle also has a deep scarf which prevents the thread from fraying while stitching.


The triple needle is like the twin but one step up with three needles instead of two. With this, you can stitch three rows at once. This is often used for embroidery and heirloom sewing.

needle sizes

Just like there are different types of needles, there are also different sizes of needle. These sizes are generally described by a pairing of numbers.  The larger number, normally listed first, describes the diameter of the needle blade. This is measured in the hundredths of a millimeter. The second number is the standardized number for that needle size. The first number is based on the European model while the second is based off of the American model. 

In either case; the larger the number, the thicker the needle. Standard sewing conditions will generally use a needle ranging between 65/9 to 80/12. Below is a chart listed the type of sewing needles and the size that it comes available in.

Some sewing needle types come in a more unique range of sizes. The chart for these can be found below.

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