How to Choose the Right Quilting Needles for Your Project 2024

A close-up view of a sewing machine needle working on a red and white quilt, with text and buttons promoting the best needle for machine quilting.

Quilting needles are essential tools for any quilter. They come in different types, sizes, and shapes, each designed for a specific purpose and fabric. Choosing the right quilting needles can make a big difference in the quality and appearance of your stitches, as well as the ease and comfort of your sewing.

In this article, you will learn about the variety of quilting needles available, how to decipher the needle size guide, how to replace your sewing machine needle, and how often you should do it. By the end of this article, you will be able to select the best quilting needles for your project and enjoy a smooth and satisfying quilting experience.

Types of Quilting Needles

There are five main types of quilting needles that you should know about:

Universal Needles:   These are the most versatile and common needles for quilting. They have a slightly rounded point that can penetrate most fabrics without causing damage. They are ideal for most quilting projects, especially if you are using cotton or cotton-blend fabrics. You can tailor the size of the needle to match the weight of your fabric, as explained later in this article.
Quilting Needles: These are specially designed for quilting projects. They have a sharp point and a slightly tapered shaft that can pass through multiple layers of fabric and batting with ease. They are perfect for creating precise and neat stitches, especially if you are doing intricate or detailed quilting. You should select the size of the needle according to your project’s requirements, as explained later in this article.
Microtex NeedlesThese are also known as sharp needles. They have an extremely fine and sharp point that can pierce through densely woven fabrics with accuracy. They are excellent for quilting with delicate or tightly woven fabrics, such as silk, satin, or batik. They can also create crisp and clean stitches, especially if you are using thin or fine threads.
Topstitch NeedlesThese are designed with a larger eye and a deeper groove that can accommodate thicker threads. They are ideal for adding decorative elements to your quilting, such as embroidery, applique, or embellishments. They can also prevent thread breakage or skipped stitches, which can ruin your quilting.
Denim NeedlesThese are made for quilting with heavy or dense fabrics, such as denim, canvas, or upholstery materials. They have a sharp and robust point that can penetrate multiple layers of fabric without breaking or bending. They can also create strong and durable stitches, especially if you are using heavy or coarse threads.

Needle Size Guide: What It Is and How to Choose It

Decoding the needle size guide is crucial for achieving the desired outcome. The size of the needle affects the size and tension of the stitches, as well as the ease and comfort of the sewing.

 How to Read a Needle Size Guide

The needle size guide consists of two numbers, separated by a slash. The first number denotes the needle’s European size, while the second represents the corresponding American size. For example, a 70/10 needle means that the needle is 70 in European size and 10 in American size. (Source  of information sewingmachinefun.com)

The needle size guide follows a simple rule: the smaller the number, the thinner the needle; the larger the number, the thicker the needle. For example, a 70/10 needle is thinner than a 90/14 needle.

How to Choose a Needle Size Based on Fabric Weight

  • For light fabrics, such as chiffon, organza, or voile, uses a 60/8 or 70/10 needle.
  • For medium fabrics, such as cotton, linen, or rayon, uses a 75/11 or 80/12 needle.
  • For heavy fabrics, such as denim, canvas, or corduroy, uses a 90/14 or 100/16 needle.

How to Choose a Needle Size Based on Thread Thickness and Quality

You should also consider the thickness and quality of your thread when choosing the needle size. In general, you should use a thinner needle for thinner threads, and a thicker needle for thicker threads. For example, if you are using a 50-weight cotton thread, you can use a 75/11 or 80/12 needle; if you are using a 30-weight cotton thread, you can use a 90/14 or 100/16 needle.

How to Replace Your Sewing Machine Needle

To change your sewing machine needle, follow these steps for a seamless transition:

  • Turn off and unplug the machine, for safety reasons.
  • Raise the presser foot, and remove any fabric or thread from the machine.
  • Locate the needle clamp or screw, which holds the needle in place. You can use a screwdriver or a coin to loosen it.
  • Remove the old needle, and take note of the needle’s position and orientation. The needle usually has a flat side and a round side, and the flat side usually faces the back of the machine.
  • Insert the new needle, ensuring the flat side faces the back of the machine. Push the needle up as far as it can go, and tighten the needle clamp or screw securely.
  • Double-check the alignment of the needle, and test the needle’s movement by slowly turning the handwheel. Make sure the needle does not hit the bobbin case or the throat plate.
  • Re-thread the machine, and adjust the tension and stitch length if needed.

How Often to Replace Your Sewing Machine Needle

Fabric damage

A dull or bent needle can snag, tear, or puncture your fabric, creating holes or runs that are difficult to fix.

Puckering or skipped stitches

 A dull or bent needle can create uneven or loose stitches, resulting in puckering or skipped stitches that can ruin your quilting.

Tension issues

A dull or bent needle can affect the tension of the thread, resulting in loose or tight stitches that can affect the quality and appearance of your quilting.

Frequent needle breakage

A dull or bent needle can break easily, especially if you are sewing through multiple layers of fabric or batting. This can be frustrating and dangerous, as the broken needle can fly off and injure you or damage your machine.

You should replace your needle after 8-10 hours of sewing time or every 4-6 completed projects.

You should also replace your needle immediately if you notice any signs of wear or damage, such as:

A blunt or bent tip:

You can check this by running your finger along the tip of the needle. If it feels rough or catches on your skin, it is time to change it.

A dull or discolored surface:

You can check this by looking at the surface of the needle. If it looks dull, rusty, or discolored, it is time to change it.

A cracked or broken eye:

You can check this by looking at the eye of the needle. If it looks cracked, chipped, or broken, it is time to change it.

In addition, starting a new project with a fresh needle is a good practice, especially when switching fabric types. This can ensure that you have the right needle for the right fabric, and that you have a smooth and satisfying quilting experience.

To save on needle costs, consider buying the most common needle size used in bulk. You can also store your needles in a safe and dry place, such as a needle case or a pin cushion, to prevent them from getting lost or damaged.

For more information and tips on quilting, check out this comprehensive post from DIARY OF QUILTER

How to Maintain Your Sewing Machine

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