Choosing the Right Size Needle

Choosing the right needle for each project is super important.  If you are using the wrong needle it can ruin your fabric and create stress for you while you sew.  No one wants either of those.  We all want to relax and make pretty thing.

With needles, size does matter.  The numbers on the needle package matter more to me than the label they carry.  For example, if you are looking for ball point needles,  you may find them in a 90/14 and 11/70, well which one do you pick?  You know you need ball point- at least that is what all the awesome sewist said in your online group.  But really what do the number mean, and what do you choose?  It will depend on the fabric it’s self.  Thinner/ lighter weight materials need the smaller numbers.  That is the gauge of the needle or the thickness of the metal.  Ok, so what about the other numbers, 90/14 or 11/70? Well those are Ero size measurements.  kinda like inches and metrics.  Good to know, but if you are state side, not really necessary to stress over.

90% of my sewing is with knit fabric, and 75% of that is with custom printed cotton lycra fabric (Spandex, Lycra or elastane is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity– We will have more on fabric choice later) .  For my custom fabric fans, you know how much you invest in your fabric and don’t want to make a mistake with the wrong needle, it can ruin your day!   For me I have had tremendous success with Stretch 11/75 needles in my serger and basic machine. They also come in twin needles, these are great for hems.

Let’s talk for a second about twin needles.  They come in all sizes too.  But they also have a spacing size.  Yes, more numbers!  I prefer 4.0 or 4mm which is in the middle of the spacing options.  I like it best for hems, it looks great and has a cover stitch feel to it.

Here are some charts and diagrams to help you get more familiar with all the different needle types out there.


You can see all the different tip style here.  What you need to know is what this tip is going to do to your fabric.  Most needles have a sharp point that pierces the fabric creating holes.  How big the hole is will depend on the size needle.  Other needles like jersey and stretch have a ball point tip.  These kinds of tips are rounded and do not pierce the fabric or create any holes.  Instead they separate or push the fabric fibers apart and slide in between.  This is a BIG difference, and knowing about these different tips will help you choose the right needle for your next project.

Here are more charts about the different needle sizes and what they are used for.





Now, you have all the right info for your next sewing project.  Choose wisely.

**Stretch needles are not commonly sold in JoAnns or Hobby lobby, but you can find them here for single packs or here for twin needles.

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  1. Thank you for your thorough article. Do you have a reference for hand sewing needles? I inherited a ton of needles and I would like to organize them for their intended purposes. I tried Dritz. I do not know if my email reached them. Thank you.

  2. That’s brilliant so interesting and great to know,thank you. I’m a beginner but love sewing.

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