Sewing machine needles, their types and uses.

There are different types and sizes of sewing machine needles.  There are sewing machine needles for most sewing machines and then there are ones for only Singer brand sewing machines.  Out of all these needles, there are different types, sizes, and shapes of needles.

Needles and the needle system for most sewing machines are 130/705 H.  These needles are not for Singer brand sewing machines.  Their needle system calls for only Singer brand needles.

Each type of needle has different sizes as well as each type of needle has a different shape.  There is a specific intention for each sewing needle.  I will explain all I know about them.


Needles are measurements are in Metric and Imperials sizes.

Metric / Imperial size

60/8: For very fine cotton and synthetic fabrics.

70/10: Suitable for netting, chiffon and nylon sheer fabrics.

75/11: Heavier weight sheers, voile, organza and delicate fabrics.

80/12: For cotton, shirtings, rayon, poplin, lightweight wools, silks, tricots, taffeta, and basic knits.

90/14: Medium to heavyweight cotton, linen, poplin, gingham, and velvets.

100/16: Denim, corduroy, heavyweight fabric, upholstery, and heavy suiting.

110/18: Best for heavy denim, upholstery, and leather.

120/20: Multiple layers of Corduroy, denim, heavy suiting etc.

Parts to sewing machine needles

Blade: The blade diameter determines the size of the needle.

Butt: The end of the needle that goes into the sewing machine.  The end has a bevel to it, thus making insertion easier.

Eye: This is the hole that the thread passes through.  Its shape and size will vary according to the type of needle.

Groove: This part of the needle helps hold and guide the thread to the eye of the needle while sewing.  Once again, the length and size of the groove will vary depending on the type of needle you are using.

Needle type: The top color band on a needle.  This indicates the type of needle it is.

Needle size: The bottom color band on a needle.  This indicates the size of the needle it is.

Additional parts to sewing machine needles

Point / Tip: The end of a needle that has the first contact with the fabric.  It varies in length, shape, and size according to the different type of needle.

Scarf: This is the groove directly above the eye which allows the bobbin hook to grab the thread while in the bobbin compartment to create a stitch each time it goes through the fabric.  Once again, the size and shape of the scarf will vary according to the type of needle are you using.

Shank: The part of the needle that will go into the sewing machine.  All household sewing machines will have a round shank with a flat side.  This allows for the needle positioning to always be facing the correct direction.  Shanks for industrial and commercial sewing machines will be round and not have a flat side.  Some of those types of needles even screw into the sewing machine.

Shoulder: The sloping part of the sewing machine needle that usually has the color indicators on it.  This part is where the needle goes from the shank and the blade.

Different types of sewing machine needles

Universal needles

This type of needle has a slight ballpoint on the end which makes this sewing machine needle the most versatile needle.  It is great for sewing most woven fabric, knits and synthetics.

Comes in sizes 60/8, 70/10, 75/11, 80/12, 90/14, 100/16, 110/18 and 120/20.

Ballpoint needles

This needle is great for all kinds of knit fabrics.  The ballpoint end prevents the needle from piercing the fabric fibers and breaking them.  This just separates them in-between the fibers, leaving them intact.

Come in sizes 70/10, 75/11, 80/12, 90/14 and 100/16.

Embroidery needles

These types of needles are for decorative sewing on fabrics such as cotton, rayon, polyester, and acrylic.  The embroidery sewing machine needles have larger eye openings to allow for the thread to move through easily and at very high speeds.  Thus, preventing the thread from fraying and breaking.

Comes in sizes 75/11, 80/12 and 90/14.

Jeans needles

Jeans needles are for sewing denim, canvas, and other tightly woven fabrics.  The point is very sharp to penetrate dense fabrics.  These are also great for top sitting on woven fabrics.

Comes in sizes 80/12, 90/14, 100/16, 110/18 and 120/20.

Leather needles

This needle is great for real leather.  Its chisel point penetrates the leather cleanly.  This needle is only for genuine leather, not for pleather, plastics, and pieces of vinyl.

Comes in sizes 80/12, 90/14, 100/16 and 110/18.

Metalfil needles

This needle is for sewing with metallic and plastic like threads.  This needle is for decorative sewing and not any type of seam.  The eye on this type of needle is larger and allows the thread to move through it at higher speeds to prevent spreading and breaking the thread.

Comes in the size of 80/12 only.

Quilting needles

This needle is great for sewing through multiple layers of cotton and batting.  It has a longer, sharper point to penetrate layers, prevent thread fraying and breaking as well as maintaining straight stitches.

Comes in sizes 80/12 and 90/14.

Self-threading needles

Self-threading needles have a slit in the side of the eye for threading.  By sliding the thread down the shaft it will go into the slit and into the eye.  (I don’t really care for this type of needle.  Because of the slit in the side of the eye, it makes the needle not as stable and more likely to snap in half.)

Comes only in the size of 80/12.

Sharps needles

These needles are good for silk, microfibre, and woven fabrics.  They are good at penetrating densely woven materials.  This sharp point makes it great for topstitching and for stitching button-holes.

Comes in sizes 60/8, 70/10, 80/12 and 90/14.

Stretch needles

Great for knit fabrics.  Especially for those fabrics that have two way stretch like swimming wear, lingerie and for elastic.  The design of the scarf on this needle is to help keep from skipping stitches and puckering the fabric.

Comes in sizes 75/11, 80/12, 90/14 and 100/16.

Topstitching needles

This needle has an extra large eye to accommodate larger threads for topstitching.  It is extra sharp to help penetrate through different thicknesses of fabric up to heavyweight materials.

Comes in sizes 80/12, 90/14 and 100/16.

Specialty type sewing machine needles

Twin needles

This needle is ideal for heirloom sewing, topstitching, and hemming.  The two needles are held into place by a nylon piece.  Sewing with double needles can be time-consuming.  You need to make sure and sew slowly.

The size on a double needle is  80/12 to 90/14 but the spacing between the two needles come in lengths of 2.0mm, 2.5mm, 3.0mm, 4.0mm, and 6mm.  It is usually available in universal, ballpoint, stretch, jeans, embroidery and metalfil needle types.

Triple needles

Just like the twin needle, the three needles are held into place by a nylon piece.

Comes in size 3.0mm with the three needles being 80/12 sharps.

(The twin and triple needles are very costly needles.  If you break or bend one while sewing then the whole thing is trash.  I like to just use my edge stitching foot with different needle positions.  I do two passes with the single needle to create the twin or three passes to make the triple needle look.)

Wing needles

Another heirloom needle.  It has two flanges on each side of the shaft to create larger holes in the fabric.

Comes in only one size 100/16.

Sewing machine needles

These needles are all great tools to help you sew different types of fabrics.  There are different brands out there.  I have and use Schmidts, Klasse and some Inspira brand needles in my sewing kit.  Thanks for reading.  If you have any questions or comments leave them below.