Tips & Tricks Tuesday: What would MacGyver do?....sewing machine needles 101

10:00:00 PM

Hi all, and welcome to Sew at Home Mummy's first ever linky-party for "Tips & Tricks Tuesdays: What would MacGyver do?"

This is how it works:

  1. Post a tip, trick or tutorial on your website or blog
  2. Grab a "Tips & Tricks" button from my blog in the right sidebar --> 
  3. Post said button in your tricks post, and link back to my blog
  4. At the bottom of this post, click the "link up" button and follow the directions...let the party begin!

So for my first linky-party, you'd think that I'd have a trick or tip so Earth-shattering that your minds would be blown.

Alas, no. It's not mind-blowing. But that's the point of this party! Little tips that will help your fellow sewing bloggers.

Today's topic: Machine Needles, 101.

Now, I'll apologize in advance - this tutorial or tip will only cover home sewing machine needles - not those intended for Sergers or industrial machines. As well, I've skipped info re: twin needles and antique needles. 

Let's get started.
  • There are two major needle companies in N.A.: Schmetz & Singer
  • There are two systems for sizing of home machine needles:
    • European Metric: numbered 60 - 120
    • American (Singer): 8 - 18
      • so a Denim needle measuring "110/18" = (metric)/(American [Singer])
      • The lower the number, the finer the needle, and vice versa (2)
      • The size of needle is always indicated on the shaft (figure 1)

Figure 1: The anatomy of a home sewing machine needle (1) 
    • The metric measurement, replacing numerous measurement designations in 1942 as a universal way to define needle sizes, indicates the diameter of the needle blade measured above the short groove, in hundredths of millimeters. (6)
  • The needle system used by today's home sewing machine is referred to as "130/705H" (4)
  • Tip shapes and sizes of eyes of needle vary depending on type of material you're sewing - there are sharp points (and varying degrees within) and ball points
  • So, let's say you want to buy a needle for quilting.....
Figure 2: Anatomy of a needle package (4)
  • I would want to purchase a needle package that said: 
    • needle type: QUILTING
    • needle system: 130/705H
    • needle size: 90/14
      • ...and that package might look like this:
Figure 3: a Schmetz Quilting needle (7)
  • I took the liberty of putting together a chart for reference - when to use what type of needle and on what kind of fabric. Click to enlarge, and feel free to Pin it:
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little needle lesson. Not very exciting, but, informative! 

Happy sewing everyone!

(1) Extracted October 5, 2012: All About Needles,
(2) Extracted October 5, 2012: Machine Needles,
(3) Extracted October 6, 2012: Notions and Tools,
(4) Extracted October 6, 2012: Needle Guide,
(5) Extracted October 5, 2012: Needle Size and Thread Chart,
(6) Extracted October 6, 2012: Needle Size Designations,
(7) Extracted October 4, 2012: Schmetz Needle Catalogue,

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  1. Great tip.. I was actually buying needles this weekend and was wondering about the numbers! have posted about your linky party!

  2. Yay! I'm glad someone found it useful. I always wondered about all of the numbers too...hence the post! Thanks for linking up girlie!!!

  3. Erin, You may think it redundant to post machine needles 101, but remember not all of us have a teacher at hand. I found this information very helpful. I'm a hobby leather craftsman and recently purchased a 1923 industrial Singer sewing machine for my hobby. I still have a lot to learn, however information like yours really helps me along.
    Thanks, Gregg


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