Sewing Machine Needle information

This is based on Schmetz brand needles and will show the type of needle that would perform best on the various fabrics.  Other brands may not adhere to the specific definitions and information that follows.

Note: Check thread spools for any particular needle that may be recommended.

Universal Needle - is used for the majority of fabrics, including jerseys and synthetics, fine linen, chiffon, batiste, organdy, woolens, velvet, decorative seams and embroidery work. Needle sizes range from size 60 to 130. This type of needle is what most people will purchase for sewing their projects. The needles that follow will allow for improved performance in more specific applications as stated.

Topstitch Needle - is used for top stitched seams with buttonhole silk or synthetic and metallic thread. Used for connecting several layers of material, securing the layers of material to prevent them from being displaced and used for decorative topstitching.  The topstitch needle would also be used when sewing with heavier threads, especially 30 weight or heavier.  The larger eye on the needle can reduce abrasion on the thread.

Ballpoint Needle - is for knit material as well as for foundation garments, curtain material, coarse knitted fabrics, latex, double-knit fabrics, hosiery, Quiana and Simplex fabrics. Needle sizes range from size 70 to 100.

Stretch Needle - is designed for highly elastic synthetic knitwear like lightweight or silk jerseys. These needles are thinner, have a special round point and are Teflon-coated for smooth penetration and to prevent cutting the fine threads in highly elastic synthetic knitwear, and silk jerseys. The special point tends to go between the threads rather than go through them and prevents skipped stitches and damaging the fibres. If a ballpoint needle is skipping stitches, try a stretch needle.

Jeans/Denim Needle - is for denim and similarly woven materials, also for artificial leather, waxed cloth, twill, work wear, heavy linen and light canvas. Needle sizes range from size 70 to 110. Microtex needles may also work well in place of "Denim" needles.

Microtex Sharp Needles - are designed for sewing on micro-fibers, silks, ultra-suede and heirloom sewing. The thin needle with its slim point, ensures perfect stitching through the finely and tightly woven micro-fiber. These needles may be used when sewing silks.

Embroidery Needle - has a larger eye, an improved scarf design and a rounded point. The larger eye accommodates the various embroidery threads available, while the scarf reduces the risk of skipped stitches. The rounded needle point avoids damage to both the embroidery thread and material.

Metallica N
eedles - are needles that have been specifically designed to accommodate all the metallic threads in today’s market. With an extra large eye to make threading easier and takes heavier thread, this large eye also helps prevent shredding and breaking. They have a large groove to make the stitches with delicate metallic threads with less friction again to prevent shredding. They are the only needles to use for the flat metallics like Sulky Sliver, Holoshimmer and Superior Glitter threads.

Quilting Needle - is designed with a special taper to the point, which assists in successfully sewing thick layers and crossed seams in any patchwork or quilting project. It allows the quilter to sew a great number of seams without damaging the material. The design of the needle also eliminates “ bearding” or the pulling through of the quilt batting when machine quilting a project.

Leather Needle - is used for leather and is also suitable for artificial leather. Leather, paper and plastics are materials, which, on account of their closed structure can only be stitched using cutting-point needles. These needles have been carefully developed with cutting points for numerous applications. NOTE - these needles are not suitable for textiles.

Quick Threading Needles - These needles have a slot in the shaft of the eye to make threading so easy.  Slide the thread in from the side of the needle, instead of feeding into the eye.  Because of the slotted eye, these needles may be more prone to breakage on high usage, or heavy fabrics.  Available in sizes 80 and 90.

Twin Needles - are two needles mounted on one shank to sew parallel lines of stitches. These come in varying widths and sizes and their use depends on the fabric weight and the type of sewing machine. These may also be used for tuck piping and on one or two coloured ornamental seams. For example: 1.6mm & 2.0mm is used for pintucks and delicate sewing, 2.5mm & 3.0mm is for hems or pintucks, 4.0mm is for decorative hems, 6.0mm is for surface embellishment and are perfect for sewing on bias binding. Twin needles are only for use on machines with front, or top loading bobbins and wide slot in the throat plate. They cannot be used on machines with side loading bobbins.  Needle sizes range from size 70 to 100.


Sewing machine - Loops on the Bottom of the Fabric

We get quite a few calls on this. It is a situation that can, and does, affect any brand of machine.  I added this information here to help you understand the situation.  It may also save you some trouble if you are sewing at some odd hour. (Not that anybody does that).

When seeing this, people tend to think that there is a problem with the bobbin thread. This is usually NOT the case.  About 90% of the time, the problem is with the top thread.  If you see this, check the following, but if you are not comfortable in performing any of the actions that follow, do not proceed - call your local service person for further advice.


  • Re-thread the machine top thread, from the spool of thread down to, but not through the needle.
  • Check the upper thread tension setting - on most machines this is about 5.
  • With the presser foot in the raised position, pull down on this thread - it should feel loose.
  • Now, put the presser foot (lever) down and then pull on the thread - it should feel tight. If it is tight, thread the needle and try some stitches.
  • If the thread is loose, there could still be a threading problem, a mechanical problem with the tension disks, the thread is not fully into the upper tension disk, OR, there is something like lint, or thread caught in the upper tension disk - this would have to be cleaned out.

Sometimes it is possible to see into the disks and remove any obstruction.

You MUST be careful here, because machines have a little "take-up" spring in this area, and forcing this area could damage the spring.  Something like a toothpick could be used to remove any lint.  Be very careful with metallic objects, like pins, because they could scratch the disks and result in shredding thread.

Do the above test again.

If this is not successful, then call your local service person for further advice.


Cleaning your machine or serger - lint in, or lint out

People like to blow the lint off their machines. They remove the bobbin cover, or the needle plate, then huff and puff, and blow the lint in. They may even resort to canned air, or an air compressor.

    I can not stress this enough: Don't do that.

Lint is a problem.  What happens is that any lint, dust, threads, etc. get blown into the working mechanism of the machine or serger.  Lint attaches to the moving parts, absorbing the lubricant needed for smooth operation, and creates extra wear on those parts.

The machine may look clean from the outside, making it appear as though servicing is not needed but this is not the case.  When it is time for a full cleaning, removing all the extra lint and lubricant increases the time, and the cost, for repair.

What to do - use a brush and/or vacuum to remove lint, rather than blowing it into the machine.  Also, smaller artist type brushes, and Q-Tip type products can be effective.  A mini vacuum attachment that attaches to your regular vacuum hose is available at SEW for IT!  This tool is very useful for removing lint from sewing machines and sergers as well as for cleaning computer keyboards.

My opinion - vacuum the machine, do not blow on it.

Benefits of brush and vacuum - extends time between servicing, saving you extra money.