Needle, Needle, quite confusing, how does your thickness and sharpness matter? It matters a lot more than you may think!

There is a point to the point? Well I’ll be darned!

Some needles are designed to puncture through the weave of the fabric while others move the weave out of the way. Choosing the wrong needle can cause your needle to break, damage the fabric or pull seams.

The shank is rounded on the front and flat on the back and this is where the number code of your needle is printed.

The eye will vary in size depending on the needle type and use. The point will also vary in sharpness, from sharp and fine to blunt and rounded.

The number on the shank will give you an idea of the size of the needle, the larger the number the thicker the needle. Understanding the weight and density of your fabric will assist in determining the right needle size. If you have 20/20 vision grab a needle close to you and check out the little numbers on the shank. If you are vision challenged like me you may need a magnifying glass or grab your phone and zoom in with the camera (which I may do…). This is what those numbers mean:

    • 60, 65 & 70 are very fine needles
    • 75, 80 are light weight
    • 90 is medium weight
    • 100 is heavy weight
    • 110 is very heavy
    • 120 is the heaviest


Image source (public domain image)

Your needle has a slash and another number… why? The lower number is just for our US friends. In Australia we use the top number which is the EU system.


That all makes sense, the bigger the number, the heavier weight of fabric the needle can handle but how do we translate this into matching a fabric? This will all come with trial, error and lots of practice. Start with finding your type, eg, denim, then choose your weight based on feel, thinner the fabric, smaller the number, thicker the fabric larger the number.




Universal Slight ball point for sewing woven and some knit fabrics. 70, 75, 80, 90, 100, 110, 120
Denim/Jeans Medium ball point used for sewing extra thick woven fabrics like denim or quilts. This needle is designed for heavy duty and reduces breakages and skipped stitches. 70, 80, 90, 100, 110
Jersey/Ball-Point Rounded point for  knits and stretch fabrics. This needle will not cut the fibers and therefore avoid ladders in the fabric. 70, 80, 90, 100
Leather This needle is sharp to cut through leather, artificial leather and heavy synthetic fabrics. 70, 80, 90, 100, 110
Metallic Specialised needle for use with metallic threads that can tend to shred. 80, 90
Sharp Sharp, fine needle for delicate and densely woven fabrics like silk, tulle and gingham. 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110
Quilting Strengthened needle designed to move through multiple layers of fabric and batting while preventing damage to material. 75, 90
Stretch Designed for 2 way stretch fabrics, like lycra/spandex these needles will stop the annoying skipped stitches. 75, 90
Topstitch The top stitch needle is extra sharp and designed to move through dense fabrics. 80, 90, 100

Table 1: Outline of needle use type and size

If you can choose the right needle for the fabric you will have a much easier time completing the project.

I have solved a little frustration with skipped stitches on one of my incomplete projects while researching this blog post! I hope this post helps you too and makes your sewing experience easier and more enjoyable.