Needles 102

pickles cartoon pic

If only all problems were as simple as a new needle! Yet many sewers still do not know which needles to use when, below is a collection on Julie’s personal favorite needles, with a short description of when and why to use each needle.

For Piecing 

Quilting 75/11  

This needle has a tapered point to penetrate the fabric easily without damage to the cotton fibers. This results in good quality stitching and because the needle travels through multiple layers of fabric quickly it is easier to achieve accurate piecing and sharp points.

Sharp pointed needle makes your pieced points more accurate.

Sharp pointed needle makes your pieced points more accurate.

Points DONT match. Universal Needle used. Points don't match because needle does not pierce the fabric quickly enough

Points DONT match. Universal Needle used. Points don’t match because needle does not pierce the fabric quickly enough

Quilting 90/14

Same as Quilting 75/11  for heavier fabrics such as flannel.

Microtex 80/12  

This is a very slim needle with a fine sharp point making it ideal for “precision piecing” of detailed quilt blocks. The Microtex needle is especially effective where many matching seams are involved as its super sharp point pierces the fabric so quickly that it does not have time to shift.

 Jeans 70/10

This needle has a reinforced blade that makes the denim needle less likely to bend or break when going over multiple seams.

Jeans 90/14

This is my favorite needle for sewing flannel quilts or Minkie. The reinforced blade and extremely sharp point eliminates skipped stitches and reduces the fabric’s tendency to stretch.

For Thread Painting 

Topstitch  80/12, 90/14 or Jeans 80/12, 90/14

These needles have the strength to handle the pull on the needle when thread painting.  The sharp point prevents skipped stitches by quickly piercing the fabric and extra stabilization used in the process. The deep groove protects delicate threads from abrasion as you build up layers of color and texture.

For Machine Quilting

 Quilting 75/11, 90/14  

These needles give a good quality stitch with a wide variety of threads. These are the needles I use most often when stitching medium to large Free Motion Quilted designs or when straight-line quilting.

Gold Titanium Quilting 75/11, 90/14

Same as the standard Quilting, in addition the Gold Titanium coating allows the needle to glide through the fabric with less resistance. It also stays sharp up to six times longer!

Microtex 60/8, 70/10, 80/12, 90/14

The Microtex (sometimes called a Sharp), has a very slim shaft, which reduces pin-pricking and a small eye which reduces thread bounce. The wide variety of sizes available make it possible to use a Microtex needle for thread weights and types from 100 weight silk to 50 weight cotton.  60/8 is my favorite for Micro Stitching.

Embroidery 75/11/ Gold Titanium Embroidery 75/11

These needles have a sharp points, small eyes and a deep grooves in the blades to protect delicate thread, both needles are excellent for quilting with rayon thread. The Gold Titanium needle stays sharp up to six times longer.

Jeans 70/10, 90/14

I use these needles for threads that need a larger eye or fabrics that resist needle penetration such as batiks, flannels or those with a metallic print.

Topstitch 80/12, 90/14, 100/16

These needles are ideal for threads such as 12 and 30 weight cotton that require a large eye and very deep groove.

Metallic 80/12

This needle has a longer eye for use with metallic threads, this helps stop the thread from shredding and breaking.

In Free Motion Quilting a small needle allows you to stitch a small design with smooth curves. Use the smallest needle possible to help reduce pin pricking.            Using a larger needle will help you stitch a larger design.

For Machine Embroidery

Embroidery 75/11, 90/14

These needles have a sharp point, and a fine blade with a deep protective groove to stop thread abrasion.

Gold Titanium 75/11, 90/14

The gold titanium version of the Embroidery 75/11,90/14, stays sharp up to six times longer. Especially good quality stitches for dense embroidery or thread velvet.

Topstitch 80/12, 90/14

This needle is excellent for stitching machine embroidery through sticky stabilizers that grip the fabric for you, embroidering through fabric and batting or for stitching dense embroideries. (A dense Machine embroidery is one that has a lot of stitching that is very close together.) The Topstitch needle has the heaviest shaft of all the needles so it is less likely to bend when asked to perform heavy tasks.

Universal 80/12, 90/14

Prevents damage to fabric when embroidering on satin.

Microtex 70/10

Prevents damage to fabric when embroidering on fine silk.

For Garments and Home Decor

Universal 80/12

A great needle to have on hand for fabrics where the fiber content is not known or when sewing satin.

Microtex 60/8, 70/10, 80/12, 90/14

This is the ideal needle for most light to medium weight fabrics, the finer the fabric the smaller the needle.

Jeans Denim 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, 100/16

This needle has a heavier blade for stitching denim, chambray, coating and upholstery fabric. Match the size of the needle to the weight of your fabric and the thickness of your thread.

Topstitch  80/12, 90/14, 100/16

The Topstitch has a large eye for topstitching and sewing with heavier threads.

Stretch 75/11, 90/14

The point pierces a stretch fabric quickly to prevent skipped stitches.

Wrong needle causes Skipped Stitches

Wrong needle causes Skipped Stitches

Jersey 80/12, 90/14

This needle has a ball point tip that prevents damage to fine knit fabrics by gently pushing the fibers aside as it passes through the fabric. The ball point will also help prevent skipped (missed) stitches.

Specialty Needles

Twin Needles

Twin Needles are two needles on one shaft. This gives you two rows of evenly spaced stitching. I love them all for use in topstitching garments, quilting and decorative stitching. The back will look like a zig zag when doing a straight stitch.

twin needlesspecial needles 

Wing Needle (also called  Hemstitch)

A Wing needle is used for heirloom techniques when sewing items such as nightgowns or christening gowns and household linens. (Watch for future Blog for more information) **Also available as a twin needle, one needle will be a wing and the other is usually a universal.

Double Eye Needle

This needle is Wonderful fun! It has two separate eyes, one above the other. This allows you to run two colors (or even types) of thread at the same time and maintain color separation. Ideal for machine quilting, thread painting and machine embroidery.

Triple Drill

This needle is like a twin needle but has three needles on one shaft. This allows you to have three rows of equally spaced even stitching. The back will look like a zig zag stitch.


Compared to the time we invest in our projects the cost of a correct, new needle is nothing!

Something as small as a needle can make all the difference in how easy to complete and how professional looking your projects are.

Change your needles often!         

During the sewing process the tip wears down and the eye of the needle becomes rough from the heat and abrasion of the thread.

When sewing or quilting I change my needle every six hours.

When working with batik or metallic fabrics change the needle every two to four hours as these types of fabric dull the needle point faster.

For machine embroidery I change the needle every six to eight hours.

Gold Titanium needles can be used up to six times longer.

Take the time to consider your needle choice at the beginning of each and every project and change your needle accordingly.


HAPPY SEWING!    Julie Plotniko




  1. […] Needles: Sharps have a sharp point which pierces the thread of woven fabrics. A Quilting Needle 75/11, Jeans Denim 70/10, Microtex Sharp 80/12 or Janome Blue Tip 11 would all be good choices to piece your Mystery Quilt For detailed information on needles please see our previous Blog Post; Needles 101 from Feb 2014 and Needles 102 from April 2014. […]

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