Sewing Machine Needle Sizes & Types

Last Updated on June 6, 2023

Hello, one more day! We are going to continue and extend the post that we left you a few days ago about machine sewing needles. As we said, we all know that needles and thread are very important parts of the sewing machine to achieve a good result in our seams, but do we know the Sewing Machine Needle Sizes & Types?

Sewing Machine Needle Sizes & Types

It is essential to know how to choose the right needle depending on what we are going to sew, the type of thread, and the fabric we use. An unsuitable needle will bring us more than one unpleasantness, such as torn fabrics, skipped stitches, crooked stitches, etc.

Machine sewing needles are different depending on what we will sew, so that we will explain the types and sizes of machine sewing needles.

Let’s start with machine sewing needle sizes:

Needles are usually labeled with two numbers: the European size (the larger number) and the American size (the smaller number).

The needle becomes finer as the number decreases. And the finer the fabric for which we utilize it, the finer the needle must be. Simple! Well, here is a summary of the basic sizes of the needles:

  • Very thin or light fabrics: use size 60/8 or 65/9
  • Lightweight fabrics: use size 70/10 or 75/11
  • Medium weight fabrics: use size 80/12 or 90/14
  • Heavy fabrics: use size 90/14 or 100/16
  • Very heavy fabrics: use size 110/18

What size sewing machine needles to use?

The European metric sizing system ranges from 60 to 110, while the American sizing system ranges from 8 to 18. In both systems, the lower the number, the finer the sewing machine needle; the higher the number, the larger the needle.

For lightweight fabrics such as chiffon or silk, you would typically use a finer needle size, such as 60/8 or 70/10. These needles are designed to create smaller punctures in delicate fabrics, reducing the risk of fabric damage.

For medium-weight fabrics like cotton or linen, needle sizes in the range of 80/12 to 90/14 are commonly used. These sizes provide a good balance between strength and flexibility, allowing for smooth stitching on medium-weight fabrics.

Choosing larger needle sizes is advisable when working with heavier fabrics such as denim or canvas. Needle sizes ranging from 100/16 to 110/18 are suitable for heavyweight materials. These needles have a stronger shaft and a sharp point to penetrate dense fabrics without bending or breaking.

What Size Needle is Best for Beginners?

Size Needle is Best for Beginners

For beginners, it is recommended to start with medium-sized needles. The width sizes of six (4mm), seven (4.5mm), or eight (5mm) are generally suitable. These sizes provide a good balance between versatility and ease of handling.

In terms of length, a 10-inch needle is typically a good option for beginners. This length allows for easy maneuverability and control while sewing. Choosing a needle size that feels comfortable in your hand and allows for precise stitching without feeling too cumbersome is important.

Also, know the types of needles for sewing machines:

Universal Needles

They have a slightly rounded tip for sewing knitted fabrics, but they can also be used to sew woven fabrics (cotton, linen, silk). It is useful to have a variety of universal needles in various sizes: fine for light materials and thick for heavier textiles.


The ballpoint needles are ideal for sewing points or elastic fabrics. They do not pierce the fabric since they have a rounded tip but rather separate the fibers without breaking them, avoiding snagging or piercing them.

Sharp or blue point needle

Very fine; this needle is ideal for making straight points or backstitching on particularly fine and delicate fabrics, such as silk or microfiber. It is also especially useful for sewing buttonholes.

Stretch: Round toe, used for synthetic and elastic fabrics.

Quilting or Quilting Needle

Ideal for work such as patchwork or quilting, with a sharp and tapered point with a long shaft, so it can pierce multiple layers keeping the stitches straight, or penetrate thick layers without damaging the fabric. Thin but strong.


Embroidery needles are intended for use with embroidery thread made of rayon, polyester, cotton, or acrylic. They have a special scarf that is a groove on one side of the needle and a larger eye to prevent tearing when sewing with special machine embroidery threads.


As the name suggests, these needles are designed explicitly for Jeans/Denim fabrics and could also be used on canvas and other tight fabrics.

Leather or Canvas

As the name suggests, they are ideal for working on leather and synthetic leather. These needles have a wedge-shaped triangular point that helps them to produce a large, clean hole through thick materials.

Twin Needle

Twin needles are linked to a single shank and are appropriately distanced from one another, allowing you to work on two rows of stitches at once.

Sewing Machine Needle Types & Sizes Applications

How do I choose a needle size?

There are a few factors to consider. The weight of the fabric and the type of thread you’ll be using play a significant role in determining the appropriate needle size. Here are some guidelines to help you choose the correct needle size:

  • Fabric Weight: As a general rule, the weight of the fabric should guide your needle size selection. For lighter-weight fabrics such as silk, chiffon, or organza, opt for smaller needle sizes like 60/8 or 65/9. These finer needles will prevent visible holes or puckering. A needle size of 70/10 or 75/11 would be suitable for medium-weight fabrics like cotton or linen. Heavier fabrics like denim or upholstery materials require larger needle sizes, such as 90/14 or 100/16, to penetrate the fabric easily without breaking.
  • Thread Type: The thread you choose for your sewing project can also influence the needle size. Thicker threads, such as heavy-duty or topstitching threads, require larger needle sizes to accommodate their thickness. Smaller needle sizes are appropriate for fine threads like silk or lightweight cotton. If you need clarification, consult the manufacturer’s recommendations or refer to most needle companies’ thread and size compatibility charts.
  • Package Information: When purchasing needles, most manufacturers include both the needle size and a corresponding metric size on the package. Pay attention to these markings as they provide valuable information. Remember, the smaller the needle size, the lighter the fabric it is suitable for, and vice versa.
  • Testing and Experimentation: It’s always a good idea to test your needle and thread combination on a scrap piece of fabric before starting your project, especially if you’re working with a new type of fabric or thread. This allows you to observe how the needle interacts with the fabric and ensures that it produces the desired results.

FAQ – People Also Ask

Which is bigger, a 24 or 26-needle?

A size 24 needle is larger than a size 26 needle.

What is an 80 needle used for?

An 80 needle, also known as an 80/12 needle, is commonly used for sewing lightweight fabrics such as lawn, faille, and georgette. These needles are suitable for delicate and flowy fabrics often used in dresses and blouses.

The size 80/12 needle is designed to create precise and neat stitches without causing damage to the lightweight material. It is ideal for achieving professional results when working with fine and delicate fabrics.

What is an 18-needle used for?

A size 18 needle, or 120/18, is primarily used for sewing heavyweight and tough fabrics. It is designed explicitly for thick leather, heavyweight canvas, and dense upholstery fabrics. These fabrics require a larger needle size to penetrate and stitch through the layers effectively.

The size 18 needle is paired with heavyweight threads like upholstery and topstitching threads. These threads are thicker and more durable, making them suitable for the demanding nature of heavyweight fabrics. Using a size 18 needle with heavyweight threads ensures strong and secure stitching, even in challenging materials.

What size needle is best for cotton?

The best needle size for cotton depends on the weight and construction of the fabric. For lighter cotton fabrics, such as cotton blouses or lightweight, unlined garments, a sharp number 14 needle (90/14) is recommended. This needle size provides a good balance between piercing the fabric effectively without causing damage.

However, when working with very lightweight or unlined cotton fabrics, using a smaller needle size may be preferable. A cotton-specific needle in size 80/12 can be a better option in such cases.  

How many mM are 10 needles?

The US Size 10 knitting needles typically measure between 6.0 and 6.3 mm in diameter. On the other hand, UK size 10 knitting needles are sized between 3.25 and 3.3 mm.

How big is an 8-needle?

A size 8 needle, in the context of knitting, typically refers to a pair of straight needles with a 5 mm diameter. These needles are commonly used with worsted-weight yarn, which is a medium-weight yarn category. The size 8 needles are popular for beginners due to their versatility and compatibility with various knitting projects.

What is a 16-needle used for?

A size 16 needle is used for sewing with medium to heavyweight fabrics. It is commonly recommended for fabrics such as wool or wool blends, canvas, cotton duck, sailcloth, upholstery fabric, and thicker projects like purses. The larger size of the needle allows it to penetrate through these dense fabrics more effectively, ensuring smooth and even stitches.

What is a size 18 sewing machine needle?

A size 18 sewing machine needle refers to an industrial needle with a completely round shank. In the context of needle sizes, they are often listed in two ways: by size and measurement. Therefore, a size 18 needle is equivalent to a 110 needle. These needles are commonly used for heavy-duty sewing projects or working with heavyweight fabrics that require a larger and stronger needle for optimal results.

What is the right needle for fabric by their weight?

The right needle for fabric depends on the weight and type of fabric you are working with. Here are some general guidelines to help you choose the appropriate needle:

  • Medium-Weight Fabrics: For medium-weight fabrics such as cotton, linen, or polyester blends, a 90/14 needle is commonly used as a starting point. This size is suitable for a wide range of medium-weight fabrics and can provide good stitch quality.
  • Lightweight Fabrics: It’s best to use a smaller needle size when sewing with lightweight fabrics like sheer cotton or silk. An 80/12 or 75/11 needle is recommended for these delicate fabrics. These smaller sizes will help prevent excessive fabric damage or puckering during sewing.
  • Heavyweight Fabrics: For heavyweight fabrics such as denim, canvas, or upholstery materials, a larger needle is required to penetrate the fabric effectively. A 100/16 or 110/18 needle size is typically used for sewing these sturdy fabrics. The larger needle size ensures proper stitch formation and prevents the needle from breaking or bending.


So, although there are more types of needles, this starter guide contains what you need to know about sewing machine needles. We hope you have found it useful.

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