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Selecting the Correct Sewing Needle for Your Project (Updated) November 5, 2018

Kalispell, Flathead
Selecting the Correct Sewing Needle for Your Project (Updated), Kalispell, Montana

It takes experience to learn the importance of selecting the proper needle for various sewing tasks. Since the demands of the project vary greatly depending on the material and intended result, novice and seasoned sewers alike must take care to choose the correct tool. The following guide outlines some of the most common sewing needles, as well as when to use them.  Remember, the higher the size number, the larger the needle, which is opposite threads (the higher the number the thinner the thread!).  Following is only some of the various types of needles. 

6 Types of Sewing Needles

1. Topstitch

Topstitch needles have a larger eye and sharper point, which is perfect for sewing with heavier threads through thicker fabric.  If your thread is fraying and shredding, try using a topstitch needle; it may better carry your thread through the fabric.

2. Stretch and Ballpoint

When you work with stretchy fabrics that contain spandex or elastane, always choose a stretch needle. Like the ballpoint needle, it contains a rounded tip but also has a special eye that helps prevent the risk of skip stitches.  Ballpoint needles work better with looser knits as they pass through the knits without puncturing the fabric.

3. Universal (also called Regular)

sewingA staple in most sewing kits, this is the needle most used for all types of materials like cotton, silks, linen, or denim (there is also a denim/jeans needle). Depending on the weight of the material, you should choose a universal needle size from 6, the lightest, to 19, the heaviest.

4. Wedge-Point

Wedge-point needles, aka leather needles, are thick and robust compared to other options, which makes them ideal for heavy materials like leather and vinyl. Use a smaller needle for supple, thin leather or a larger needle for thicker layers. Due to the difficulty of sewing heavier materials, wedge-point needles are often used in conjunction with sewing machines that have a motor which provides good piercing power.

5. Quilting needles

Quilting needles are great for sewing on quilting projects. It has a sharper point, a deeper groove and a larger eye than the universal needle.   This makes it ideal for carrying the thread through all three layers of the quilt (top, batting and bottom) as well as for piecing the two layers of cotton fabric.

6. Wing Needles

These needles flare out on the “eye” portion of the needle, and are used  when you want the decorative “hem-stitch” look.  This technique works best on natural fiber materials, with stitches that are formed by going into the same hole multiple times (stitches with a back and forth motion), and using smaller threads. This helps hold the stitch holes open slightly so that you get the “hem-stitch” look.  


For all of the needles and sewing accessories you need to tackle your next project, head to Flathead Valley, MT’s trusted destination. Based in Kalispell, The Sewing Center has provided knowledgeable support and reliable services for over 30 years. Whether you want to improve your skills with sewing lessons or require an expert to repair your machine, the one-stop shop offers everything you need. To learn more about their services, visit their website or call (406) 752-7058 today.

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