Domestic sewing machines today basically use the one needle system (705/130H, HAX1, 15X1) but they are available in a large variety of sizes and point styles. Selecting the right needle and thread for the fabric you plan to sew is one of the most fundamental steps to achieving a successful stitching result.
Machine Needles come in sizes ranging from sizes Metric Size 60 to 120 (Imperial Sizes 8 to 20). This size essentially represents the thickness of the needle. The lower the number, the finer the needle. Thread, however, is the opposite, the finer the thread, the higher the number.
When sewing, the thread lies in the needle groove, if the needle is too fine for the thread, the thread will not fit into this groove causing faulty stitching.
The needle must also be in perfect condition. Stitching problems occur from using a needle that is either blunt, bent or if the tip has been damaged.
Size is Important
In general the sewing thread diameter should be about 40% of the needle size (Nm). The reason for this is the ratio of the needle size to the cross-section of the long groove.
The long groove down the front of the needle plays a critical role in the formation of each stitch. The width of this groove is 40% of the needle diameter, i.e. in a size 100/16 needle ( which is 1.00mm thick ) the groove size is 0.40mm. The thread must fit nicely into this groove, and if the thread is too thick as shown in this first drawing, the thread can jam and all types of stitching problems will occur: such as thread stripping, thread breaking, missed stitches ,uneven tension etc.
When the thread size fits neatly into the long groove, this creates the optimum conditions for the best stitch, the best tension and hassle free stitching.
When the thread is much thinner than the groove, this creates a situation where an excessive amount of thread can form in the groove, which in turn may reduce the size of the loop and skipped stitches, uneven tensioning etc can result.
Why Needles Break
"It is true, that the higher the quality of the needle, the more likely it will break, and a low quality needle will almost never break but bend!"
A machine needle is a precision made tool, which is designed to perform within very fine tolerances and at temperatures that vary from room temperature to over 200 degrees Celsius (550 degrees Fahrenheit). One of the performance criteria for a quality needle is that it must break cleanly when deflected more than 15 degrees from it's original vertical position.
Why is this so?
Find the Right Needle
Learn the differences between each needle type so you can pick the right needle for all of your sewing projects or use our needle matching tool.
Universal Needle Uses
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Ideal for most woven fabrics, some knits and synthetics. The Universal Needle has a slight ball point making it extremely versatile. It works well on most machines and is the most commonly used needle for synthetic woven and natural fibres. The finer needles are generally used on lightweight fabrics and the larger sized needles for medium to heavyweight fabrics. Suitable to be used with polyester / cotton or silk threads.
Ballpoint Needle Uses
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Ideal for cotton knits, interlock, rib knits, fleece, double knit, and so most knit fabrics. The tip is more rounded that the Universal needle and is designed to push the fabric fibres apart rather than cutting them, preventing the knit fabric laddering or running after stitching. Generally threads such as polyester or polyester/cotton blends are best. Once again the finer the needle the finer the thread to be used.
Stretch Needle Uses
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Designed especially for two way stretch knits, lycra, power net, silk jersey, spandex and highly elasticised synthetic fabrics, also ideal for sewing elastic. The Stretch Needle has a specially designed scarf which prevents skipped stitched. Threads are usually polyester or cotton wrapped polyester and for extra stretch the woolly nylon threads are suitable.
Jeans/Denim Needle Uses
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Ideally suited for denim fabrics, heavy twill, workwear, and other densely woven fabrics such as canvas and heavy linens. Engineered with a very sharp point and a stiffer shank to resist needle deflection and allow penetration of dense fabric. Threads range from synthetic or blends, cotton wrapped polyester, 100% polyester and heavier topstitching threads.
Metallic Needle Uses
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Ideal for sewing and embroidery with rayon and metallic threads on woven or knitted fabrics. The Metalfil Needle is designed with a very large eye, allowing the threads to feed freely as you sew without splitting, burring or shredding. This needle is also suitable for general purpose sewing, giving the added advantage of being easier to thread due to the enlarged eye.
Sharps/Micro Fiber Needle Uses
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For silks, micro fiber fabrics and for penetrating densely woven fabrics, also ideal for piercing and quilting layers of cotton fabrics with batting. A strengthened shaft also helps to reduce needle deflections as the needle penetrates multiple layers of fabric. The sharp point also produces smooth buttonholes.
Quilting Needle Uses
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Ideal for piercing and quilting layers of cotton fabrics and batting. A strengthened longer shaft also helps to reduce needle deflections as the needle penetrates multiple layers of fabric while maintaining a perfectly straight stitch.
Leather Needle Uses
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For genuine leather. The leather needle has a cutting point and is used for sewing leather, suedes and difficult to sew projects. It is often referred to as a chisel point needle as the point resembles and acts as a chisel in motion. Do not use with ultra suede, synthetic suede or PU imitation leather.
Topstitch Needle Uses
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Extra large eye accommodates thick topstitching thread. Extra sharp point allows needle to penetrate easily through all fabrics.
Embroidery Needle Uses
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The embroidery needle is specially designed for machine embroidery using Rayon, Polyester or Cotton machine embroidery threads. This needle features a wider hole to allow the thread to pass freely. Another feature is a pontoon scarf with oversize bump to reduce the chance of skipped stitches which can result when fabric is flexing up and down rapidly with the fast moving embroidery stitch.
Hemstitch / Wing Needle Uses
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The single “wing” blade on the side of this needle cuts a narrow hole in the fabric, creating the popular heirloom-style decorative stitching.
Twin Needle Uses
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Twin needles are used for practical sewing and decorative sewing such as pintucks, seam finishes and topstitching etc. The size of the needle is measured in mm from tip to tip (2mm needle has a 2mm space between the points). Available in many types and sizes.
Klasse' twin needles are uniquely colour coded for easy identification.
Blue-Universal • Grey-Ball Point • Pink-Embroidery • Navy-Jeans/Denim • Yellow-Metallic • Red-Stretch
Overlock / Serger Needle Uses
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Many home overlockers/sergers use the same needle system as domestic sewing machines for which we recommend our Klassé Type G for simplified selection (system HAx1, 15 x1, 130/705H, 2020); however some other overlockers/sergers use other system needles and for these Klassé produces five different system needles which suit 99% of all overlockers/sergers.
The "Machine Type Reference" tab will give you some guidance as to what needle suits your overlockers/sergers, however it is also recommended that you also check your instruction manual to ensure you choose the correct system needle, or ask you local machine dealer. Use our Serger Needle Finder to determine the right needle for your Serger make and model.