An Introduction to Embroidery Machine Needles

Are you starting to get the hang of your embroidery machine, but still struggling when it comes to needles? Understanding which type of needle you should use with your projects can be a challenge.

Don’t worry, this comprehensive guide will help you understand the basics of embroidery machine needles, so you can start stitching with confidence.

This article provides an introduction to embroidery machine needles and an overview of their use in creating beautiful embroidered items. Embroidery machine needles come in a variety of sizes, materials and shank designs. The size and construction of the needle determines the type of thread and stabilizer used, as well as the type of fabric that it can penetrate. Knowing how to choose the right needle is essential for achieving great results with your machine embroidery projects.

Embroidery needles have a long, tapered shank which moves through fabric more easily than stitching by hand does.The length and design of the shank provide extra stability for looped threads during high-speed embroidery work, which allows portions of larger designs to remain taut while other portions are being worked on. The sizes, materials and shanks used for embroidery needles vary depending on their application. Common sizes include 15/90, 11/75 and 9/65, with increasing numbers indicating smaller needle dimensions. Additionally, needle materials can range from stainless steel to titanium-coated bronze or nickel-plated brass for extra durability against repeated thread pulling during use. Finally needle tips may be round or sharp-pointed depending on application – round points minimize friction while sharp points offer greater strength in penetrating thick fabrics such as denim without damaging them or creating snags in threads.

Definition of embroidery machine needles

Embroidery machine needles are precision tools that are specifically designed for use with embroidery machines. Using the correct type of needle with your machine is essential in order to achieve the best results and ensure a quality stitch.

Embroidery needles have a long, slim shaft and come in several different varieties, depending on what sewing projects you are working on. Each needle is designed and constructed differently in order to deal optimally with specific fabrics and thread sizes. Typically, the larger the needle, the larger diameter of thread it can handle and vice versa. Different types of embroidery machine needles include stretch needles, metallic needles, topstitch needles, universal needles and more.

It’s important to note that there is an optimal size needle needed for every project as well as tension settings that need to be properly adjusted when using different fabrics or threads. Every type of fabric will require its own specific settings as no two fabrics are exactly alike; some require lesser settings as compared to others for optimal results. To get the most out of your embroidery experience, be sure to consult your user manual carefully before starting any new project!


Types of Embroidery Machine Needles

When buying embroidery machine needles, it is important to consider the type of needle you need. There are several different types available, each suited for a specific type of fabric and stitching technique. General-purpose needles can be used for most sewing projects, but individual fabrics or techniques may require a specialized needle.

Types of General-purpose Needles: These needles are available in sizes 70/10 – 110/18 and come in two styles — sharp and round point. The size number indicates the diameter of the needle while the number after the slash indicates its length (in millimeters) which is important when selecting fabric thickness. Generally speaking, avoid using very large sharp needles as they can damage delicate fabrics like silk or chiffon.

Types of Specialty Needles: Depending on your project’s needs, you may need specialty needles tailored to certain stitches, such as:

  • Topstitching needles – This type of needle has an especially large eye and groove to accommodate thicker thread for topstitching on heavier materials or visible decorative stitching.
  • Jeans needles – These heavy-duty needles have a reinforced blade designed to penetrate multiple layers of fabric and heavyweight denim without breaking or bending.
  • Embroidery/wing Needles – An extra large eye enables these special purpose needles to easily draw decorative threads through cloth; they come in lengths ranging from 75/11 through 110/18 sizes so check your manufacturer’s instructions first before selecting one for your project.
  • Quilting Needles – Designed with a special taper for perfect topstitching on quilts; this type of needle produces very small neat stitches without puckers on multi layer fabric projects such as quilts or comforters.
  • Universal Needles- Universal needles are the most popular type of needle on the market and they work well with a variety of different fabrics. The key features of universal needles are a slightly rounded point and a wide groove on the shaft. The rounded point is designed to pierce the fabric rather than cut, making it ideal for woven fabrics that have tightly paired fibers. The wide groove on the shaft ensures that threads are guided through it and do not get tangled or trapped, reducing skips in embroidery stitches.

To ensure the best outcome when working with these needles, always use high quality thread and avoid excessive tension on the upper threading mechanism.

III. Needle Sizes

The size of a machine embroidery needle is visibly represented by its shaft width. Standard sizes are the most commonly used in the industry and range from 65/9 to 120/19.

When you understand the structure of a needle, it’s easier to choose what type and size is right for your project. There are two parts to an embroidery machine needle:

* A Point- This is the top part of the embroidery machine needle. It has a sharp point which basically punctures fabric evenly and defines the type of stitch in fabric, creating beautiful surfaces with all kinds of stitches, like satin, zigzag, cross, etc.

* The Shaft- The outer part below the point. All needles have a diameter that defines it’s size number and a length that indicates its class or type (CMG or THRO). CMG stands for commercial medium groove design or flat-shank machines like BrotherTM , Baby LockTM, SingerTM and others. THRO stands for threading grooved shanks like Industrial rotary hook machines used in factories or industrial environments as opposed to smaller home or hobby machines.

Needles come in sizes from universal (70/10) to extra-fine (100/16) length 4mm – 6mm). It is important to be aware that while length stays constant regardless of diameter; widths can vary depending between manufacturers. Some needles may measure differently than others even though they are labelled with the same size number. Test out different brands on scraps of your fabric before proceeding on your main project when using specialty threads such as metallic threads which use thicker needles around 90/14 – 110/18; this range will help decrease tension problems due to friction created when stitching through denser fabrics like quilts or denim when using high thread counts such as 30 – 40wt threads.

Understanding Needle Sizes

Upon first glance, embroidery needles may appear to be one-size-fits all. However, there are important differences between needle sizes and types that will affect the efficiency of your embroidery machine, both in terms of performance and longevity. Embroidery machine needles come in different sizes denoted by numbers such as universal, metrizer or 1-5 numbers according to their gauge size. To ensure successful embroidery projects start with understanding needle sizing:

Universal Needles: These needles are a basic round shank needle for totally flat lockstitch and overlapping embroideries on any weight fabric. Universal needles range from size 8-19 depending on the weight thread being used for the project. Generally, size 8 and 9 needles should be used for fine thread, 10 – 16 for medium thread and 18 – 19 for heavier thread.

Metric Needles: Metric and European needles differ from Universal needles due to their blade shape rather than the size of their eyelet or shank. They possess slight variations in diameter, blade length and scarf design which allow them to better penetrate dense layers or stitch through difficult areas with ease. Sizes available range from 75/11 – 90/14 gauges (the higher the number before the backslash, the thicker the needle).

Number Gauge Needles: These needle systems also have specific characteristics that differentiate them from other types of embroidery machine needles aside from their leading designations (1 -5) to denote shank gauge size. Again these sizes vary based on project requirements but typically 1 – 3 designation is used for finer threads while 4 – 5 is best when stitching large designs or multiple layers on heavyweight fabrics like denim or leathers silhouettes etc… The point angle of these machines also varies adding a level depth of complexity noting when using heavier threads larger eyelets are needed offering more room for thread movement within its confines ensuring quality throughout your project timeline regardless sweater knits or fleece etc….

Determining the Right Needle Size for Your Project

An embroidery machine needle comes in many sizes, each of which is suitable for a different job. The thickness of the needle is measured using the European System (also known as the E System), which assigns numbers to needle sizes ranging from 70-110.

The lower the number, the finer and thinner the needle; similarly, higher numbered needles are heavier and thicker. The needle size also determines how large or small your stitches will be. Selecting the right size of yarn for your project also helps determine which size of needle you need. Generally, a thin yarn will take a thinner or finer needle while larger yarns require a thicker or heavier needle.

When selecting an embroidery machine needle it is important to take note of three numbers printed on its side – Système Européen (SE); Universal Point (U); and American Wire Gauge (AWG). The SE number corresponds with its metric diameter, U represents its point shape and AWG indicates its wire thickness in mills per inch Units are used in every country except for Japan where only Metric numbers are used instead of SE numbers. It can be helpful to make a reference chart that includes all three units when selecting a size that best fits your project – specifically with regard to compatibility between thread type weight and fabric type weight.

Ultimately choosing an embroidery machine needle comes down to personal preference and experimentation; yet doing adequate research first ensures you will have an informed starting point from which you can start testing several different needles types until you find something that works best for your project!

Needle Selection

The right needle is essential to creating professional looking embroidery. It is important to choose the right type and size of needle for the fabric and thread being used, as well as for the specific machinery involved. Here are some tips for selecting the best needle for your project:

  • Needle point types – There are two main needle point types: universal and ballpoint. Universal needles can be used with all fabrics, threads, and stabilizers whereas ballpoints are specifically designed to be used with knits as they have a softer tip that won’t damage the material.
  • Needle sizes – Embroidery machine needles come in a range of sizes from 9/70 to 18/110 which represents 90/14 (metric) on the universal scale. The larger numbers indicate a thicker needle while smaller numbers mean a finer size such as 11/75 or 10/70. As a general rule, use medium-size needles (11-14) when handling medium-weight fabrics such as cotton broadcloth while using large needles (16-18) with heavy weight materials such as felt or thick napped fabrics like velvet or corduroy.
  • Needle brand – Choose only quality brands like Schmetz and Organ since they offer consistent development between batches. Poor quality needles tend to cause more thread breakage and skipped stitches while decreasing production efficiency leading to an overall decrease in product quality.

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Needle

When selecting a needle for your embroidery machine, there are several factors you must consider. The needle’s shape, size, type and point all determine the quality of your finished product. These needles vary in design and feature slight differences that significantly affect how your thread is being handled by the machine.

The type of needle you select will also depend on the thickness and type of material being applied to, as well as the technique used for stitching.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right needle for your project:

  • Choose a needle based on its distance from the point: A single grade system is used to assign numbers to needles indicating their distance from the point. Generally speaking, larger numbers indicate shorter distances between points.
  • Always use high-quality needles: Low-quality needles can cause damage to fabrics or threads during stitching and do not give finished pieces a particularly good appearance. Be sure to use heavy-duty sewing machine needles with any embroidery projects.
  • Consider varying sizes and types of needles: Different sizes place different amounts of pressure on fabric while stitching, so it’s important to choose a size that’s appropriate for each project you work on. Additionally, depending on what type of thread or yarn you are working with — cotton or synthetic — different needle types may be required in order to produce results that look good in both form and function.

Maintenance and Care

It is important to properly care for your embroidery machine needles in order to ensure the longevity and efficiency of your machine. Cleaning and maintaining embroidery machine needles requires a few simple steps.

First, be sure that all needles are lubricated at least twice a month. It is also important to regularly check for bent or buckled needles as they can affect the overall performance of the machine. When replacing a needle, always make sure it fits your particular model of embroidery machine so that it works properly.

Additionally, store spare needles in an area away from dampness and dust, as these can cause unnecessary wear on the needle points over time. Always insert new needles carefully as frequently handling them can cause damage – never touch a needle near its point! To make changing needle easier, label each spare with its size and type using electronic tape or similar material. Finally, make sure you maintain good lighting in your embroidery space to better spot any signs of wear on the needle points before they cause any additional problems with your workpiece or machine.

Cleaning and Replacing Needles

Machine embroidery requires special needles known as “machine embroidery needles” or “topstitch needles”. These are designed for the high speeds and tensions used in embroidery, and so using conventional sewing machine needles could cause poor results. It’s important that a few minutes be taken to check the needle before each use and every so often to ensure it is in good condition and up to regular use.

To check the needle, look for signs of wear such as nicked, clogged or distorted eyes or points. If either of these is evident, the needle should be replaced with a new one appropriate for your fabric type:

  • Maintenance and Care– Coming in various sizes, these are specifically designed for embedding multiple threads into one stitch.
  • Maintenance and Care Sharp points provide clean piercing power through most fabrics while reducing friction and heat buildup close to the eye of the needle.
  • Maintenance and Care – Also known as “jersey” needles, ball point needles are specifically designed to pass between the fibers of knit fabrics without snagging them.
  • Maintenance and Care Twin needle stitching allows you to create two rows of identical stitching with two separate threads at once, creating an effect similar to hemstitching.
  • Stretch/Elastic Needles – This type of speciality needle also comes in various sizes and is designed specifically for highly elastic fabrics like cords and ribbons that may be difficult for other types of machine embroidery needles to work through effectively.

If you find that your needle does not need replacing but simply cleaning, hold a piece of thin cotton fabric up against it before running it under cold water for 10 seconds until all debris has been cleared from its eye or point area. Allow it time to air dry before using again.

Storing Needles Properly

Storing needles properly is important for machine embroidery success. The wrong needle in the wrong place can create worn needles, skipped stitches, fabric tears, or frayed thread. To ensure this doesn’t happen, it is important to store needles in a manner that will prevent them from becoming dull or damaged.

Needles should be stored far away from any petroleum-based products like lubricants or solvents. It is best to store the needles in their original packages and make sure the packages are labeled with the correct size of the needle; double-check before beginning your next stitching project. Never mix your needles; holding them together can create friction which can damage the tips of the needles. When needed, spray a light amount of oil on a clean cloth and run it along side of each needle to keep them properly lubricated.

In addition to steps mentioned above, you can also extend needle life by using only one type of needle at a time while you work and replacing dull or bent needles as soon as possible to keep accurate and consistent stitching results; it’s also important to remember to use only high-quality embroidery machine needles in order to get optimal results with every stitch!


Embroidery machine needles are an important component of the embroidery process and provide consistent, quality stitching in a variety of fabrics. The needles come in many sizes and styles, depending on the type of project and material being used. Choosing the right needle is key to successful stitching; too large or small of a needle can result in poor results.

This guide has explored the characteristics, benefits and limitations of each type of embroidery needle available on the market today. Understanding needle compatibility is essential for achieving professional-looking projects. Using sharp needles in tight tension keeps threads from knotting and snagging, preventing damages to fabrics and ensuring that stitches fit together as intended.

Ultimately selecting the best needle for an embroidery project requires experimentation with different sizes until you find just right one for the desired fabric type, improving overall stitch quality in any project.

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