Ok, so you've started sewing but you're still learning the ropes, as they say. When talking about sewing machine needles, people in your sewing circle keep mentioning numbers like 90/14 and 75/11, which make little or no sense to you. .. the problem is that you're just a little too shy to ask. Well, that's why we're here: so you can arrive at your next sewing appointment spouting your own useful information, maybe teaching the old experts things they didn't even know (we don't We won't tell them if you don't).
But before we get to those damn numbers… what about the types of needles, why the different shapes and when are they appropriate? When it comes to sewing machine needles, you will have several types of needles to choose from, namely quilting, topstitching, embroidery, denim, metallic and universal. Your rounded tips will always work best on knits, while you should opt for pointed needles when using woven fabric with a high thread count. The finer the weave, the finer the needle, remember that.
Topstitching the needles are super sharp but have a long eye: this allows you to slide through thicker fabrics with relatively thick thread… without leaving gaping holes in the fabric.
Your Stitching The needle features a special taper, designed to glide through many layers of fabric, including cross stitching.
THE Embroidery The needle, with its more rounded tip and extra large eye, is ideal when it comes to using special decorative threads to embellish and embroider the focal points of your project.
If you are looking for a standard needle to use on all your standard projects, choose Universal, although I strongly recommend changing it if you are dealing with quilting, or especially if it is a fine weave and very thick thread. The universal needle is a needle for all fabrics, with a slightly rounded tip and you can use it on just about any standard project but like I said, best changed on fine weaves.
THE Jeans / Denim The needle is both strong and sharp and is suitable for working on heavy fibers and tight weaves.
Ballpoint needles often called Needles in Jersey, are made specifically for sewing knitwear. The special tip of the needles does not damage or break the knitted fibers. They are usually available in sizes 10/70 to 16/100 and in an assortment. You need to choose the size that will handle the thread used when sewing the knits.
THE Microtex pointed needle is ideal for piecing because it is extremely thin and sharp…meaning straight stitches, small holes, and few to no creases. Ideal for microfibers and silks. Remember that this is a very fine needle so be careful of breakage by changing this needle regularly!
Double-eyed needles are used for embroidery and topstitching with decorative threads to produce decorative stitching. Having two overlapping eyes, two different yarns can be used for textural or shading effects.
THE Metal needle has the same point as a universal needle, only the eye is polished and reinforced for easy threading of almost any fabric… a special groove on the front also protects thicker threads from slots. I'd say if you want a versatile tool for your projects, this is your best bet.
Now, as for the color coding…the packaging is color coded for those of us who are unable to read the little number printed on the needle pack. This is a great idea that you can use to organize your sewing supplies: why not sew yourself a color-coded pincushion to make sure you don't mix up your needles in the future? Such confusion could be disastrous if you are working on sensitive fabric.
What do the two numbers mean?
So the two numbers you see on your packaging indicate the size of the needle shaft in both measuring systems, European and American. The larger number indicates metric or European measurement and the smaller number indicates universal or American measurement. The bigger the numbers, the thicker the needle, go figure. Start with a 70/12 or 80/14 for your general sewing work, then adjust from there… adjusting both size and type, moving on to topstitching for your thicker thread and so on.
Sizes will be printed on the front of the package, right at the bottom. The metric measurement, the 70 or the 80 etc… is multiplied by 100 simply to remove the decimal so that an 80 equals a shaft diameter of 0.8mm and so on, quite simple.
Remember, if you're working on a finely woven fabric but you're using a needle that isn't fine enough, you're going to end up with holes in your fabric and a product that doesn't say… quality. When it comes to matching thread to needle eye size: you shouldn't have any trouble getting this thread through, it should just pass through with minimal fuss. If you struggle, it's likely that the wire will eventually split.
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