Needle Review

Common needle questions answered!

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Sewing machine needle know-how still haunts people on a daily basis. From needle sizes to different types of needles, how is anyone supposed to remember it all?

  • Does one go by the fabric type or the thread thickness or both when selecting needles?
  • Does a needle go dull?
  • Do I use a stretch needle or a ballpoint needle for knit fabrics?
  • Why does metallic thread shred at the needle eye?
  • When should a needle be thrown away?
  • Do I need to dispose needles in a special place?
  • Can I sew over pins?
  • What am I supposed to do with a needle I only used for a couple minutes?
  • Is a size 80 needle bigger than a size 12 needle?

As you can see by this SHORT list of questions, we answer needle questions everyday.

A couple years ago, Sara spent an afternoon filming 18 super short videos on each of the different kinds of needles? You can view them within the following YouTube needle playlist:


These needle videos are a consistent reminder that every needle has its place. There is no one needle for all sewing projects.

Here are a few easily answered questions:

  1. Select needles based on the fabric thickness first and the thread thickness second. Be sure the needle groove on the front of the needle is big enough to accommodate the thread.
  2. Select a “sharp” needle for most woven fabrics such as cotton, denim or satin. Needles that are “sharp” include Denim, Topstitch, Microtex, and Quilting needles.
  3. Save ballpoint needles for knit fabrics.
  4. Use Universal needles for fleece and terry cloth.
  5. Please don’t sew over pins. Your sewing machine and needle this thank you.
  6. Use a Metallic needle with metallic thread. If metallic thread still gives you fits, place the spool on a separate spool stand or try a different brand of metallic thread.
  7. NEVER run out of Stretch needles! Watch this video to find out why…


And for the techie in all of us, there is even a needle APP! Search for the fabric you are going to use and presto, the right needle pops up! This 24/7 needle app is a handy way to keep all the needle information all in one place.

Here is a short video on what the Schmetz Needle APP has included.


There are resources all over this Internet for sewing machines needles. The only way to truly learn about needles is to sew projects that MAKES you need different needles. Not until you experience them yourself on an actual project will you fully comprehend their full abilities.

In the mean time, having access to resource guides like the one below will help point you in the right direction.

Click here for a free printable PDF Guide to sewing machine needles. 

Never mix up your sewing machine needles again with this handy guide at your side!

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Want to learn more? Visit our friends at Craftsy and take a class on Embroidery, Sewing or Quilting online today.

Other Machines We Have Filmed

  1. Bijoux says:

    Thank you for providing handy charts to print. I can keep it right near my machines as a handy reference.

  2. Marsha Twiford says:

    Sara, I can’t begin to tell you how much you have taught me. You’re tutorials are treasures and I refer to them often!!!! I have just purchased a Juke DU-1181-N for canvas slipcovers and I surely wish you’d do some tutorials on it! The industrial for Home Dec is a whole new world for me and I need your expertise! Again, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and keep them coming? By the way, do you ever get to Birmingham, AL?
    Best regards,
    Marsha Twiford

  3. Debbie Jung says:

    I will be starting to sewing patches on leather vests. What type needle should I be using?

    1. I would recommend a leather needle.

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