Tips for Choosing the Right Sewing Machine Needles

Hi all!

I’d like to begin this post with a brief anecdote about a girl, her embroidery machine, and a needle….

There once was a girl, a pretty blonde with a very giving heart.  She had recently gotten her very first embroidery machine and was generously doing some free monogramming at a local sewing meet-up before the holidays.  All was going very well, until somehow, she broke a needle.

No worries!  She had spare needles on hand and was able to quickly change it out for a fresh one.  And then disaster struck.  No matter what she tried, the machine was no longer stitching properly.  It was a mess.  The pretty blonde wisely decided that she’d call it a day and try to revive her machine in the privacy of her own home.  But, when she got it home, things didn’t get any better.

That’s when she decided to bring it to me.  The amazing Super Jenny!  In short order, we were able to get to bottom of the problem.  We figured out that when she had changed the needle the other day, she had put in a regular sewing needle instead of an embroidery needle.  So, we put in an embroidery needle, made sure it was in properly etc. and took off like lightning, stitching up a storm of fun projects that day.  Happy Ending!  Yay!

The moral of the story is:  Use the right kind of needle for your project and your machine….. it matters!

NEEDLES!  NEEDLES!  NEEDLES!!!

Have you ever taken a look at the wide variety of needles available on the notions wall at local fabric shops and sewing machine dealerships?  How does someone decide which ones they need?

I’m posting information here that may help steer you in the right direction the next time you need to get some needles…..

Sewing Machine Needles:
It’s a fact that some fabrics sew out better if you use a special needle to get the job done.
Below is a short list of fabric & thread types and the best needles to use with them:

  1. Cotton and poly-cotton blend fabrics do well with a size 12 to size 14 “universal needle”.  A universal needle is like your all-purpose go-to needle.  It has a very sharp point and is meant to sew well on non-stretchy fabrics.
  2. Denim or other heavyweight fabrics require a “jeans needle”.  The package will say size 16 on it.  It’s a thicker needle meant to handle the strain of sewing through layers of thick fabrics.
  3. T-shirt type fabric – jersey knit, requires a “ball point needle” the package will usually contain sizes 12 and 14.
  4. Lightweight fabrics such as chiffon or silky fabrics will do best with either a “ball point needle” or “universal needle”. If the fabric is very sheer, you will want a very thin needle size 9 or 11.  However, you can use size 12 on most silky fabrics with good results.
  5. Spandex, swim-suit type fabric requires a “stretch needle”.
  6. Leather material requires a “leather needle”.  This needle has a uniquely shaped point, kind of like a miniature double edged sword. This tip allows the needle to “slice” through leather as it sews.  (I would recommend using a slightly longer stitch length for leather projects.)
  7. When you want to use thicker threads to add decorative top stitching to a project, choose a “topstitch needle”.  It has a much larger “eye” hole to accommodate the thicker thread as it passes through.
  8. When you want to use metallic threads for decorative stitching, you will see the best results if you get “metallic needles”.  It has a large eye for the larger thread and a large groove to prevent shredding of the delicate metallic threads as you sew.  Note:  Metallic needles do not crossover well to machine embroidery.  See below for recommended machine embroidery needles.

Of course, my little post is not a comprehensive resource for all things needles.  If you’d like even more info. then….

Click Here for MORE about Needles

Embroidery Machine Needles:

Because of the high speed, high stitch count, and heat created from the friction of machine embroidery, you really should only use embroidery needles in your embroidery machine.

I have a Janome 350E embroidery machine.  And, for the most part, I buy Janome machine embroidery needles.

I have also used the Schmetz Gold Embroidery Needle 130/705 H-ET with no problems in my sewing and also my embroidery machine.  On the front of the package it says in fine print:  Titanium Nitride.  This is a special coating that keeps your thread from shredding as you sew through thick or densely woven fabrics.  And, if you ever try sewing or doing embroidery on a glamour fabric called, “confetti dot”, you’ll need this coated needle for beautiful results.  Confetti dot fabric is covered in little metallic dots of “confetti” that have been glued onto it.  Regular needles get all gummed up and your thread keeps breaking – so it’s worth it to get the coated needles.

If you want to use metallic thread for machine embroidery, get a metallic embroidery needle that has a larger eye hole and that also says it’s got a special teflon coating.  Using metallic threads for machine embroidery can be a real booger, so click this link for more tips on that: using metallic thread

That’s all for now!  Thanks for reading!

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny

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