The Ultimate Guide to Sewing Machine Needles | William Gee UK
Shopping Bag
William Gee's Haberdashery

Welcome back to William Gee.
Please sign in or Register for a faster checkout.

William Gee's Haberdashery

Welcome back to William Gee.
Please sign in or Register for a faster checkout.

Sewing Machine Needles Guide - Everything you need to know - William Gee UK

The Ultimate Guide to Sewing Machine Needles: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re a sewing enthusiast, you understand the importance of using the right tools for the job. One of the most critical components of your sewing machine setup is the needle. Although it may seem like a small and straightforward element, choosing the correct sewing machine needle can significantly impact the success of your sewing projects. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about sewing machine needles, from types and sizes to their various applications.

Anatomy of a Sewing Machine Needle1. Understanding the Anatomy of a Sewing Machine Needle

Before delving into the different types and sizes of sewing machine needles, it’s essential to understand their anatomy. A standard sewing machine needle consists of several key components:

a. Shank: The shank is the top part of the needle that fits into the sewing machine’s needle clamp. It comes in different shapes and sizes, depending on the machine’s make and model.

b. Shaft: The shaft is the long, slender part of the needle that tapers to a point. It determines the needle’s size and is critical for fabric penetration.

c. Groove: The groove is a small indentation on the front side of the needle, designed to protect the thread as it passes through the fabric.

d. Scarf: The scarf is a groove on the back side of the needle, which allows the bobbin hook to catch the thread and form a stitch.

e. Eye: The eye is the tiny hole near the tip of the needle through which the thread passes.

2. Types of Sewing Machine Needles

Sewing machine needles are available in various types, each designed for specific fabrics and sewing techniques. These are some of the most common types of sewing machine needles:

a. Universal Needles: These are the most commonly used needles and are suitable for a wide range of woven and knit fabrics. They have a slightly rounded point that helps prevent fabric damage.

b. Ballpoint Needles: Ideal for knit fabrics, ballpoint needles have a rounded tip that allows them to slip between the fabric’s fibres instead of piercing them, reducing the risk of snags and runs.

c. Sharp Needles: Also known as Universal Sharp needles, these are excellent for precise stitching on tightly woven fabrics like silk and microfibre.

d. Jeans/Denim Needles: As the name suggests, these needles are designed for dense and heavyweight fabrics like denim and canvas.

e. Quilting Needles: Quilting needles have a tapered point and work well with multiple layers of fabric typically used in quilting projects.

f. Embroidery Needles: These needles have a larger eye to accommodate decorative threads used in embroidery and decorative stitching.

g. Leather Needles: Leather needles have a chisel point and are specifically designed for leather and faux leather materials.

h. Metallic Needles: Suitable for metallic and specialty threads, these needles have a larger eye to reduce thread shredding.

Sewing Machine Needles Guide - Everything you need to know3. Sewing Machine Needle Sizes

Sewing machine needle sizes are indicated by numbers ranging from 60 to 120. The selection of needle size depends on the weight of the fabric you’re using. As a general rule, use smaller needle sizes for lighter fabrics and larger sizes for heavier fabrics. For instance:

  • 60/8, 70/10: Lightweight fabrics like silk, chiffon, and organza.
  • 80/12, 90/14: Medium-weight fabrics like cotton, linen, and satin.
  • 100/16, 110/18, 120/20: Heavyweight fabrics like denim, canvas, and upholstery materials.

4. Tips for Needle Selection and Maintenance

Choosing the right sewing machine needle is essential, but so is proper maintenance. Here are some tips to keep your needles in top condition:

  • Always start a new project with a new needle. Dull or damaged needles can lead to skipped stitches and fabric damage.
  • Use the appropriate needle type and size for your fabric and sewing technique.
  • Check your needle regularly for signs of wear, such as bending or burrs, and replace it when necessary.
  • Clean your sewing machine regularly to prevent lint and debris buildup that can cause needle-related issues.
  • Store your sewing machine needles in a safe and organised container to prevent damage.


Sewing machine needles are indispensable tools for any sewing project, and understanding the different types and sizes of needles available and their suitable applications will enhance your sewing experience and ensure the best results. By choosing the right needle and taking care of it, you can enjoy smooth, precise stitching and create beautiful projects with ease…Happy sewing!

Purchase Sewing Machine Needles here and enhance your sewing today!

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve partnered with Tree Nation, the platform to reforest the world & fight climate change! Home to over 90 planting projects in 33 countries, Tree Nation is a non-profit organisation that helps people & companies offset their CO2 emissions. Join us by planting trees & offsetting carbon emissions with William Gee today!