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How to Identify Sewing Machine Needles

How to Identify Sewing Machine Needles
Credit: Sewing Machine Gallery / Shanta Roy

Sewing machine needles are the most crucial and changeable part of a sewing machine. Needles determine the knitting style of any sewing project. Needle selection differs by fabrics as they influence the formation of stitches.

Proper stitches make your sewing project more beautiful; also they can break it. Sewing with a stale needle may result in skipped stitches, fabric wrinkling, uneven seams, or sometimes permanently damaged fabrics. 

So, having the wrong needle may destroy your exciting sewing project. That’s why it is necessary to identify the right one for your project.

When a needle size and type match your machine, it provides the best performance. Before deciding on a needle, you need to know the essential parts of a needle.  

How does needlework?

A sewing needle is the central feature of any sewing machine. It creates a way in the fabric for the thread to pass through. The needle forms a loop into the material which is picked by the hook mechanism. Then it carries the thread through the loop.

That’s how a sewing needle passed through the fabric and locked it. If you are a beginner, then you may not be aware of the basic needle parts. 

Physical parts of a needle

All the sewing needle has the same basic components but differs in shape and size. All the parts are dedicated to executing different functions. Understanding all the parts will help you to choose the one that works in your fabrics and threads. Let’s have a look over the basic components of a standard machine:-

Butt: The top rounded part of the needle in the butt. This part attaches to the machine needle clamp. 

Shank: The thick part of a needle after the butt is a shank. Shank has mostly a round front and a flat back, but the industrial machine needles have a full round shank. This part is being inserted into the machine.

Shaft: The shaft is the body of a needle. It is the next part after the shank which determines the size of a needle. 

Groove: The immediate next art after the shaft which acts as the place for the thread to lay into the needle. It differs in the size of the needle. It should be large enough to cradle the thread to get smoother stitches.

Scarf: The scarf is the notch on the backside which allows the bobbin hook to grab the thread under the sewing machine’s throat plate.

Eye: This is the main part of a needle that carries the thread to help the machine while forming stitches. The size of the needle eye varies with the needle size.

Point and tip: A point with a sharper tip is the first contact with the fabrics. This part helps the needle to penetrate the fabric. There is three most common type of point or tip such as sharp, ballpoint, and universal needle-point.

Sharp point needle is being used for all woven fabrics, ballpoint point for knit fabric, and universal point for both types of materials.

Understand the needle size

It is important to understand the needle sizes while identifying a sewing machine needle. Needles are available in two sizes all over the world; they are American size and European size.

American sizes are available from size 8 to 19, where 8 is a fine needle, and 19 is a thick heavy needle.

European sizes use 60 to 120, the same here 60 is the fine needle, and 120 is the thick heavy needle.

Fabrics compatible with the needle sizes

An 8/60-sized fine needle is compatible with the fine sheer window curtain. It creates finer stitches in the fabric, but 19/120 will create a hole in the material.

A 19/120-sized thick heavy needle is compatible with upholstery fabrics. It is strong enough to penetrate the fabrics where 8/60 needles will bend or break.

Identify different types of needles

You have a large option when you are looking for a needle. Once you get to know about the types of needles, then you’ll know how to identify them. Basically, you’ll find five types available in the market. Let’s discuss them briefly:

Self-threading needle for regular fabrics

These are the most general type of needles that most of us use. It has a slit near the eye of the needle. You need the thread it owns by sliding the thread against the side of the needle. It is not available in all sizes rather than in 80/12 and 90/14.

Stretch needle for stretchy fabrics

The needle with medium ballpoint tip with a special eye and scarf. These kinds of needles are used in stretchy fabrics, elastic, and knits. For example, you can use this needle for stitching swimwear.

Embroidery sewing machine needle for embroidery stitching

These needles are used to stitch dense embroidery designs without shredding embroidery threads like polyester and rayon threads. The sizes available are 11/75 and 14/90.

Leather sewing machine needle for heavy non-woven fabrics

The point of this needle is wedge-shaped which can easily penetrate the leather. It is available at 11/75 and 14/90.

Wing sewing machine needle for woven fabrics

The side of the wing needle shank is flared which creates openwork stitching on woven fabrics. Usually, the needle sizes are 16/100 and 19/120.

Denim sewing machine needle for denim

Denim needles have a rigid shank and an extra sharp point. The rigid shank makes it enough stronger for sewing through many layers of fabric. Needle sizes are 10/70 and 18/110.

Choosing a needle and some tips

Well, now you are well-known for all kinds of needle and their uses. We believe that you can easily identify a needle for your projects. Pick the correct needle for your next project fabrics.

Still, make sure to check that the needle size fits the needle holder and the fabrics. Also, check whether the needle’s eye/size fits the thread and if the angle of the needle is correct. Eventually, make sure that the needle is not touching any part when you turn the machine wheel.

Final Thought

However, at the end of any project, we look for professional-looking results. This could happen only if you identify the right needle for your projects. As the right needle assures a more accurate result, so, it is essential to know more about the needle.

Once you insert the correct needle into the machine, you’ll get stress-free stitching for an extended period. In a word, a needle prominently affects the sewing outcome so know the details and choose the right one for your next project.

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