Sewing Machine Needle sizes

sewing machine needle sizes

Generally all sewing machines are equipped with a 12 or 14 universal needle for general sewing. But specific types of fabrics should be matched with specific needles for perfect sewing experience and to avoid problems in sewing.

Sewing Machine Needle sizes for different Fabric types

Machine needle size numbers indicate the needle’s width. Basically, the thicker the needle, the bigger the number. As a general rule, the lighter weight fabrics use smaller needles and heavyweight fabrics use larger needles.

Which Sewing machine needle size for Delicate, very fine thin fabrics ?

Very fine and delicate fabrics like Fine lace, organza, cambric, very thin fine silk are to be sewn with a 8 or 9 sewing machine needle.

Which Sewing machine needle size for Lightweight fabrics ?

Light weight fabrics like affeta, Lining fabric, thin velvet, synthetic sheers, voile, silk, chiffon,voile, thin silks, chiffon, shirting should be sewn with a 9, 10/70 or 11 sewing machine needle.

Which Sewing machine needle size for Medium weight fabrics ?

Medium weight fabrics like Cotton, Nylon, Crepe, Knits, poplin, muslin, wool, stretch fabrics, flannel, spandex, light woolen fabric, linen, poplin, wool, muslin need a 12 size sewing machine needle. You can also use a 14 size one.

Which Sewing machine needle size for Heavy weight fabrics ?

Heavy weight fabrics like Suiting, tweed, other wool fabrics, fleece, denim, leather, vinyl, upholstery fabric can be sewn with a sewing machine of size 14 or 16.

Which Sewing machine needle size for Heavy weight fabrics ?

Very heavy weight fabric like heavy canvas, thick leather, ticking, thick denim, should be sewn with 16 or 18 size sewing machine needles.

sewing machine needles

The general principal for choosing needle sizes goes like this. For thinner finer fabrics the number needs to drop. And for thicker fabrics the number goes up.


Finer the fabric, lower the number of the needle.


The most common sizes used among the universal needles  are 12 and 14. This is the American number system.

For the most common needles European metric needle sizes number needles from 60 to 120.

So the first number on the needle is the American number system and the next European metric sizing.

For both numbering systems, the lower the number the finer the needle and the higher the number the larger the needle.

Are sewing machine needles marked with size?

Each sewing machine needle will have the sizes embossed on them. But the size of the markings will be very small and difficult to read. The covers of the needles will also have the machine sizes in bigger lettering. The American numbering system and European numbering system will be marked on them for easy identification.

sewing machine needle - American and european size numbers embossed on needles

One peeve I have about these needles is that it is difficult to read the writing on them. Unless you store them in their covers it is mighty impossible to read the numbers unless you have a magnifying glass or a 20 year old’s vision.

Size of Twin sewing machine needles.

twin needle sizes

Twin needles are sized according to the distance between the two needles.

Which sewing machine needle sizes are used for different cotton fabrics?

For thin cotton fabrics like cotton lawn, muslin, thin embroidered cotton you should use sewing machine needles of size 11/75.
For medium weight cotton fabrics like eyelet cotton, chinz, crinkle cotton, shirting cotton sewing machine needle sizes 12 to 14 can be used.
For medium thin cotton fabrics like calico and Gingham cotton can be sewn with needle sizes 11 or 12.
A more thicker madras cotton will need to be sewin with either 12 or 14 size needles.
A thicker cotton drill or damask fabric will need to be sewn with a 14 size needle.
Thicker denim or corduroy will need a 16 size needle.

Which sewing machine needle sizes are used for different silk fabrics?

Silks are available in different weights and textures and hence needle different techniques in sewing. The sewing machine you use also should vary according to the fabric. Universal needles are used to sew silks.
Very fine silks like organza, blouse weight silks, sheers should be sewn with a 10/70 size needle. Brocade silk is also sewn with 10 size needles.
For thin silks like habutai silk, silk satin, silk chiffon and georgette silks you should use a thin needle of size 11 so that it doesnot leave any marks/holes.
A thicker Duchesse satin or a tusser silk or Dupion silk can be sewn with machine needle size 12.

Which sewing machine needle size should be used for sewing knit fabrics ?

Knit fabrics need a special needle so that the material would not be marred. A ballpoint/jersey needle is used for sewing such material.
A thin knit fabric or loosely woven knits like sweater knits, boucle knits is sewn with a sewing needle of size 11/75. Infact, most knits like Double knits, rib knits etc can be sewn with 11/75 stretch neeldes.
Jersey knit fabrics are sewn with 12 or 14 size needles. Acrylic knits are sewn with 12 size needles.

Which sewing machine needle size should be used for sewing stretch fabrics with lycra/spandex fibers?

Universal needles can be used to sew blends of spandex with natural fibers like linen-lycra or cotton-spandex blends. Depending on the weight of the fabrics you can use 10/70 or 12//80 or 14/90 needles. Denim with lycra will need to sewn with 14 or 16 size needles.

Which needle is to be used with satin fabrics?

The soft smooth surface of satin fabric can be marred easily with the wrong needle size. You need a small needle to sew satin. Use 10/70 size needle to sew.

Which needle is to be used with Acetate fabrics?

Acetate is a comparitively thin fabric and you will need to sew it with a 11 size needle.

Updated on October 26, 2022 by Sarina Tariq

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