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Embroidery Needles 101

12th October 2011

Embroidery Needles 101

posted in Uncategorized |

I realized recently that it has been some years since I’ve covered some of the more basic points of machine embroidery – especially what supplies might be needed.   Given that the last time I talked about needles in depth was 2008 or so, I thought it was high time to discuss needle basics, and how to know what sort of needles you need for which jobs, and for which machines.

The first thing you need to know is that there are two basic types of needles for embroidery machines.   Flat shank needles are generally the kind of needles used in home sewing embroidery machines and also in many quilting machines.   Round shank needles are generally used in commercial embroidery machines.   The shank is the part of the needle located at the top and is usually the thickest part of the needle.

Next,  you should understand the needle numbering system.  There are two types of numbering systems used,  European and American.   The European system is metric, and the American system was apparently developed by singer.   The European numbering system starts at 65 and ends at 100.  The American numbering system starts at 9 and ends at 16.   So when we buy needles,  we purchase 65/9 needles or 90/14 needles.  Both numbering systems are always in use.   65/9 needles are the smallest.   75/11 needles are the ones most commonly used in machine embroidery.  Many people use 90/14 needles when embroidering a design using metallic thread.

After needle size, you should also take a moment to consider whether you need sharp or ballpoint needles.   Sharps are needles that are exactly as they’re named, sharp.   They have a pointed tip which is ideal for poking through heavy fabrics.    Ballpoint needles have a more rounded tip and are generally used for embroidering into lighter fabrics like knits and and other fabrics that are woven loosely.

The needle that you choose to use can make a big difference in the success or failure of your embroidery project.   It is always best to have a variety of sizes and types of needles on hand so you can test out different types to find the one that best suits the job you’re doing.    Selecting the right needle can have a large impact on how smoothly your sew-out goes,  so it isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.    To help you in making your decision,  here are some additional resources:

Needle Knowledge Enables Easier Embroidery – Impressions Magazine

Choose the Right Needle for the Fabric

Selecting the Right Needle – EmbroideryTalk

Machine Needle Knowledge

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 at 11:05 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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