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About Needles

 Looking at an assortment of sewing-machine needles in various types and sizes, most of us can't tell the difference among them. Put the wrong needle in your machine, or use the wrong needle for your fabric and/or thread, and you could have a mess. You can damage your bobbin hook, throw off the machine's timing, get puckered seams, break or shred thread, punch holes in your fabric and at the very least, produce an inferior stitch. Whatever your machine, needle selection is important.
Several things can determine the correct type of needle: the fabric you're using; the thread you've chosen (for example, metallic or embroidery); or the type of stitch you plan (for instance, topstitching, quilting, fancy). When you're doing regular, not decorative, sewing, the type of fabric determines the shape of the needle's point, and the fabric's weight determines the needles' size.
Almost all home-sewing machines use a 130/705H needle system -- designated on the needle case between the needle's name and size (other letters indicate needle type, such as E for embroidery or Q for quilting). Your machine's needle system never changes, regardless of the size or type of needle you use.

If you're a sewer who normally works with mid-weight, woven fabrics, you can just use a size 12 universal needle. But when you want improved stitch quality, there are specific needles to use for various jobs. Sewing-machine manufacturers want their machines to consistently produce a perfect stitch. So the needle's configuration is engineered to manage thread and fabric to reduce the likelihood of skipped or flawed stitches. Each needle type produces a stitch by using a uniquely designed groove, scarf, eye, and/or point to enable the needle and bobbin hook to meet perfectly.  

Needle DigramShank - Top of needle that inserts into machine; most often has round front and flat back, which seats needle in right position.

Shaft - Body of needle below shank, shaft thickness determines needle size.

Front groove - Slit above needle eye, should be large enough to "cradle" thread for smooth stitches.

Point - Needle tip penetrates fabric to pass thread to bobbin-hook and form stitch. Shape of point varies among needle types.

Scarf - Indentation at back of needle. A long scarf helps eliminate skipped stitches by allowing bobbin hook to loop thread more easily. A shorter scarf requires a more perfectly timed machine.

Eye - Hole in end of needle through which thread passes. Needle size and type determine size and shape of eye.

When selecting a needle for regular sewing, start with needle size. European needles range in size from 60 to 120, which refers to the diameter taken on the shaft right above the eye. American needles are sized from 8 to 19 in an arbitrary numbering system, and paired with corresponding European sizes: for example, 60/8 or 70/10; the larger the number, the larger the needle.

Determine needle size by fabric weight. Choose a size 60/8 needle for lightweight fabrics similar to batiste or organdy; a 70/10 or 80/12 needle for medium-weight cotton, jersey, or linen; a 90/14 and 100/16 for heavy fabrics like jeans, vinyl, upholstery or canvas; and 110/18 or 120/19 for very heavy fabrics. After choosing needle size, match the needle point to your fabric. The needle type and name is usually determined by the characteristics of the needle's point.

We will help you find the specific needle for your particular sewing needs, e.g.-Universal, Top Stitch, Embroidery, Quilting, Metallic, Microtex Sharp, Stretch, Commercial and blind stitch: Singer, Pfaff, White, Viking, Elna, Sears and all others. 
How smoothly the thread pulls though the needle's eye is also a factor in producing even, regular stitches. So if you have trouble threading the needle and problems with the stitches, the thread and needle aren't matched correctly. Lay your thread in the needle’s front groove; it should “snuggle” in.

In the end, most sewers just want to get professional-looking results. Knowing more about needles brings you closer to that goal, since needle choice greatly affects your outcome. For every correctly chosen, new needle you put into your machine, you should have eight to 12 continuous hours of trouble-free sewing.