What Do the Numbers on a Sewing Machine Needle Mean

What Do the Numbers on a Sewing Machine Needle Mean

The size of a needle is indicated by a number, which indicates the general size of the needle. The lower the number, the larger the needle. For example, a size 14 needle is larger than a size 12 needle. Historically, the lower the number, the larger the needle. In modern times, however, manufacturers have used different numbering systems to mark the sizes of their needles. Some use numbers that are higher than those used in other systems and some use numbers that are lower.

Any hand sewer will tell you that familiarizing yourself with both sizing systems is important when choosing your next pair of needles.

Systems vary by country and region; for example, British manufacturers use one system and American manufacturers another. If you want to be sure you’re using needles in your pattern that will fit your hand sewing machine’s eye, check the packaging for both size and system so you can make sure you’re getting exactly what you need before heading out to buy needles.

The needles are usually labeled with two numbers: the largest corresponds to the European measurement and the smallest to the American one. The smaller the number, the finer the needle. The finer the needle, the finer the fabric it is designed for.

All household lockstitch sewing machines have been equipped with 130/705H needles for many years. These numbers “130/705” mean for a simple consumer that the needle is designed for a household sewing machine and has a flat bulb.

What Is the Length of a Sewing Needle?

They are usually between 37 and 44 mm long and between 0.7 and 0.9 mm thick.

How to Know the Thickness of a Needle?

Needle gauge (G) refers to the thickness (diameter) of the needle. The higher the gauge number, the finer the needle. For example, a 25G needle is approximately 0.5mm in diameter and is finer than a 23G needle, which is 0.6mm in diameter.

What Is a Sewing Machine Needle?

Sewing machine needles are divided into two main groups: flat-heel and round-heel. The difference between the two lies in the shape of the shaft or end of the needle (the section of the needle that remains inside the machine once the needle is in place and is usually held by a screw). When you look at a flat-heel needle, you’ll notice that it has a flat bottom:

When you look at a round-heel needle, you’ll see that it has a rounded bottom, which means its point is less pointy:

A different kind of sewing machine needle, called an embroidery needle, is longer and comes with a bigger eye than regular needles. It’s used to sew heavier materials such as multiple layers of denim or leather. You can use a regular sewing machine needle for this purpose but it will damage your machine quite quickly.

How Are Sewing Needles Classified?

When it comes to sewing, you should be very familiar with the different types of needles available on the market. There are thin needles and thick needles, long needles and short needles. 

The thickness of the needle helps determine how great or little of a pierce the needle will do to your fabric. The longer the needle, the greater length it has to pierce through thick fabrics.

The shorter the needle, the lesser length it has to pierce through thick fabrics. The thinness/thickness of your needle also determines how big your stitch will be in relation to your fabric.

 When you need a needle that can pierce a lot through thick fabrics, you use a bigger needle (the thicker one) so that it can hold up more materials as it goes through the fabric. 

Thin needles, on the other hand, are used when you want small holes in your fabric without tearing it apart. You have to know what you are doing before choosing which kind of needle you need for each task so that things go well.

Application of needles

In addition to the numbers in the marking of sewing needles, you can also find letter designations that determine the scope of each particular needle, i.e. What type of fabric is it for?

The decoding of these values ​​is as follows:

H – Universal needles – Universal needles are used for knitting and embroidery on different types of knitted fabrics and yarns. The eye of the needle is slightly rounded, which will prevent damage to the fabric. These needles are suitable for “not capricious” fabrics, linen, coarse calico, cotton and others.

HJ (jeans) – Needles for thick fabrics – Needles for thick fabrics have a sharper sharpening, as a result of which they are suitable for sewing thick material – jeans, twill, tarpaulin, etc. Needles of this type are more rigid than other needles and can be used not only on denim and canvas, but also on other thick textiles.

HM (microtex) – Microtex needles – Microtex needles are thin and sharp needles with a smaller eye than other needles. They are used for piercing microfiber, thin and densely woven material, coated and uncoated raincoat fabrics, silk, taffeta, etc. Microtex needles are used by both professional tailors and amateurs to make high-quality clothing.

The structure of a microtex needle is different from that of an ordinary needle because it has a round point made of tungsten carbide. The hardness of this material makes the needle sharp and durable but not suitable for sewing thick materials such as denim.

HS (stretch) – Needles for stretch fabrics – Stretch fabrics and knitwear are a breeze to sew, as long as you use the right needle for the job. This category of needles has a special edge, which almost completely eliminates the possibility of skipping stitches when the seam is stretched. The rounded tip pushes the fabric fibers apart without disturbing their structure.

In addition, to stretch fabrics and knitwear, these needles are also useful for sewing medium-weight woven fabrics (such as cotton and linen) which have been pre-shrunk with a permanent press treatment. If your pattern calls for a ballpoint needle, but you’re using regular cotton fabric (which is not pre-shrunk), simply select a stretch needle instead.

HE (embroidery) – Embroidery needles –Needles used for embroidery have a small eye hole and a gently rounded tip. These needles also include a unique recess that, when combined with the rest of the needle’s design, prevents harm to the fabric or threads. designed to use unique embroidery threads for ornamental embroidery.

H-EM – needles for embroidery or sewing with metallic threads. Hand embroidery and sewing with metallic threads require needles with a large polished eye to allow easy passage of the thread, and a groove to prevent delamination of the metalized core.

The most common sizes are 80/11 or 90/14; the numbers refer to the diameter of the needle in millimeters. No. 80 is for fine fabrics and No. 90 is for thicker heavy fabrics.

The hollow shank allows for easy passage of the thread and prevents it from breaking during sewing, especially when using heavier threads. Sewing machine needles usually have a beveled tip, but those used for hand embroidery or sewing with metallic threads should have a flat tip to ensure that they will pass through layers without tearing them.

HQ (quilting) – Quilting needles – these needles have a special bevel, a reduced eye, and a rounded point to avoid skipped stitches and puncture marks on the fabric. Usually, they are used in decorative stitches.

H-SUK (jersey) – Needles with a rounded point – easily push the threads of the fabric and loops and due to this passes between the threads, while eliminating damage to the material. Ideal for thick knits, jerseys, and knits.

H-LR, H-LL (leder leather) – Leather needles with a cutting point; the cut is produced at a 45-degree angle to the seam’s direction. The end product is a beautiful stitch with slightly sloping threads.

HO – Needle with a blade – Blade-equipped needle for producing ornamental hemstitches and seam-finishing embellishments. These needles have various blade widths. Both sides of the tip may or may not have blades. The ornamental effect will be enhanced if these needles are used on stitches where the needle punctures the same spot repeatedly.

H-ZWI – Double-needle – combines two needles united by one holder. The purpose of such a needle is a decorative finish and tucks. Hemming the bottom of knitwear (a zigzag will form on the wrong side). The needles have only three sizes (No. 70, 80, 90) and three types (H, J, E). The distance between the needles is marked on the package in millimeters (1.6, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 4.0, 6.0). The higher the number, the wider the distance between the needles. Needles 4.0 and 6.0 can only be used on a straight stitch.

H-DRI – Triple needle – has only two sizes (2.5, and 3.0). Working with this type of needle is similar to H-ZWI marking needles. When sewing with this type of needle, you should use stitches designed to work with a twin needle. If the stitch is not selected correctly, the needle may break and damage the machine or cause injury.

Topstitch – Special needles for decorative stitches – The needle has a large eye and a large groove so that decorative thread (it is thicker than normal in order to be clearly visible on the fabric) passes through it easily. If you need to make a line with loose, decaying threads, then this needle will be the best choice. Numbers from 80 to 100. For light, medium, and heavy fabrics.

What Do the Color Markings on the Sewing Machine Needles Mean?

The needle is a very important part of the sewing machine.

 It is responsible for the correct stitching and at the same time the durability of the finished seam.

 Clear markings provide information about the needle’s intended use.

 Orange or yellow: Sewing knitted, stretch fabrics such as jerseys, T-shirts, fleece, etc.

 Brown: Sewing leather, imitation leather or other stiff materials.

The lower mark shows the size of the needle. For example, strength 75 is a dusky pink, strength 80 is orange.

If the upper marking is purple and the lower marking is orange, this means Microtex needle size 80.

Needles without a color marking for the material are universal needles.

Sewing Needles

The first type is the common sewing needle. Also known as a universal sewing needle or sharp sewing needle, this is the most basic type of needle. It’s suitable for a variety of fabrics and is available in sizes ranging from 1 to 10—the smaller the number, the thicker the needle. There are also needles in the size 11 to 15 range that are longer and sturdier than size 1 to 10 needles, making them suited for heavier fabrics like denim or leather.

Embroidery Needles (You can order here)

The most important thing to know about embroidery needles is that they are sized by the letter—not the number—system. This system was created by the crewelwork industry, which uses very fine thread, and it’s still used in some places today. It’s also sometimes used when referring to tapestry needles, which have a larger eye and can be threaded with multiple strands for needlepoint work.

The system uses letters from A-Z to indicate the size; a bigger number means a smaller needle (A is smaller than Z), so size 7 is larger than size 12, despite having smaller numbers.

Quilting Needles (You can order here)

The needle type that you choose for your quilting project depends on the fabric you want to use. Quilting needles are designed to pierce through thick fabrics such as multiple layers of cotton, wool, and batting.

They are also shorter and thicker than regular sewing needles. They start at size 1 at their largest and continue down to size 12 at their smallest.

The most common types of quilting needles include sharp, ballpoint, barbed, bevel edge and milliners.

To determine the best needle to use on your project, consider the fabric you are using and the type of quilting stitches that you will be using. For example, a wool quilt will require a different needle type than a simple cotton pillow cover.

Tapestry Needles (You can order here)

Designed for cross stitch and other types of embroidery on plain fabric, their blunt tips allow them to slip through gaps in the fabric without tearing the fibers. They start at size 13 at the thickest and continue down to size 28 at the thinnest.

Chenille Needles (You can order here)

Related to tapestry needles, they have large eyes and sharp tips and are often used in ribbon embroidery. Starting at size 13, they decrease in size to 26.

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