A Little Look at Sewing Machine Needles

When you machine stitch with a particular brand of thread, the thread creates a groove in the eye of your needle that is unique to that brand. If you change thread you must change your needle as well since otherwise the groove won’t match the thread and your thread may well snap or fray – leading to extreme tension and stress!

Machine needles are classified into three types of point:

Regular – this is the finest point, for piercing the threads of woven fabrics

Chisel Point – these are for stitching leather

Ball Point- used for knitted or stretchy fabrics. This type of needle reduces cut threads by pushing them out of the way rather than piercing them.

Most major brands of needle are colour coded to show the type of point and they come in sizes 9 (thinnest) to 18 (thickest).

For machine embroidery you should use a universal needle in a larger size to minimise wear and tear on the thread. For metallic threads use an extra-large eye to avoid fraying. You can also purchase spring needles to work machine embroidery without a foot – or you can use a darning foot which allows you to see your work as you stitch.

Remember – there is no such thing as a cheap needle. Cheap is exactly what it means. The needle is one of the most important components in your machine, so use a good one.

Always use the correct needle size and point style for the job in hand.

Change your needle regularly, the point and the blade can be easily damaged, especially in difficult applications.

And finally, if ever you have a stitching problem, the first thing you should do is change your needle as this often resolves the issue without further fuss.

*Article from Bustle & Sew Magazine: March 2017. Find out more here.*


Julie Caisey

Wish I had this info a few years ago when I worked in a craft shop. I knew all of this even before I worked, learnt it in school, I had a customer come in asking for machine needles, on enquiring what she was machining and did she need a certain type of needle, she said that a particular packet would do paid and walked out in a hurry. Next day she was back complaining that every needle had broken. I served her again but this time my boss was there too, I asked again what was she machining she said denim, I said that she had purchased machine needles for delicate fabrics. She paid again and left with her head bowed, thinking she shouldn’t have been in such a hurry.

Remember needles whether for machines or hand sewing are like ladies tights the lower the size number the finer they are.


Oh dear, what a foolish customer not to listen to you. Thanks for the tip Julie xx


I knew one needed different types of needle for certain materials but I never thought of changing the needle for different threads!
Every day is a school day!


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