Do All Needles Fit All Sewing Machines?


There are many types and brands of sewing machine needles available in the market today. This can be a challenge for someone looking to buy needles for the first time, or for someone who still hasn’t found a favorite brand and needle type.

Most sewing machine needles will function in all sewing machines. However, there are a few sewing machine brands that may require specific needles for them to work well.

Sewing needle brands such as Schmetz needles work with all sewing machine brands. However, Sergers or overlock machines, embroidery machines, or other specialty machines may use different types of needles. You should be careful in the selection process to make sure that the needle you go with is the best option for you. This article will help you do exactly this.  

Needle points

The needle point is the part of the sewing needle that goes through the fabric. These points vary in shape thus influencing the overall application of the needle. The common needle points include:

1. Ball point

The ball point is used primarily for knit fabrics. This point has a rounded tip that allows the needle to push the fibers of the fabric to either side instead of piercing through them.

2. Set point

The set point is sharper than the ball point. Needles with set points are used primarily for woven fabrics.

3. Wedge point

The wedge point is also known as the cutting point. It cuts directly through the material. Wedge points are ideally used for dense material such as leather.  

Needle type

The type of the needle is usually determined by the point and tip of the needle. This is the part of your sewing needle that you need to consider when working on a particular type of fabric. There are many types of needles that are suited for almost any application. Below are the common types of needles.

1. Universal needles

They are the most commonly used needle. The tips of universal needles are slightly rounded. These needles can be used with knit fabrics, woven fabrics, and synthetic fabrics of suede and leather. Finer needles are preferred for lightweight fabrics. Larger sizes of universal needles are used on medium to heavyweight fabrics. They work well on both natural and synthetic fibers. 

2. Ballpoint needles

Ballpoint needles are designed for tightly woven fabrics and knit fabrics with a low stretch factor. As the name suggests, ballpoint sewing needles have a rounded tip. This design makes it possible for the tip to glide between the loops of fabric without piercing through the layers of the fabric. Ballpoint needles can be used on fabrics such as cotton, polyester, and polyester cotton. 

3. Stretch needles

Stretch needles have a scarf that gives room for the hook to pass through. This prevents skipped stitches. This function makes stretch needles ideal for fabrics such as power net, lycra, silk jersey, spandex, and two way stretch knits. Stretch needles work on elastic fabrics which are known to be more difficult to work with. It is therefore important to have the right needle to work with.

4. Jersey needles

Jersey needles feature a rounded tip. This enables them to pass through fabrics without laddering or causing holes. Jersey needles work best on knit fabrics with medium stretch factor.  

5. Denim needles

Denim needles are also referred to as jeans needles. They are specially designed to work on densely woven fabrics such as heavy twill, denim, canvas fabric, and the heavy linens usually used as workwear. They are strong, heavy, and very durable. Their strong shank helps to prevent bending or breakage as the needle pierces through the dense fabric. Jeans needles have a very sharp point that makes penetration even easier. Denim needles are dense and come in larger sizes.

6. Twin and triple stitch needles

Twin or double needles are joined together at the top and then branch out into two separate needles next to each other. They are designed to work on hems and stretch garments. They also sew decorative stitches.

As the name suggests, triple stitch needles have three needles. They are designed to sew hems on stretchy fabrics.

However, twin and triple stitch needles are not compatible with all sewing machines. You should therefore check your user manual before using them. 

7. Leather needles

Leather needles are also referred to as chisel point needles. This is because its tip looks and functions like a chisel when the needle is in use. These needles are designed to work with fabrics such as leather suede, vinyl, or other fabrics that are difficult to sew. The needle also features a slightly twisted cutting edge that is sharp. This makes the needle capable of piercing through thick fabrics such as leather, suede, thick non-woven fabric, vinyl, and heavy faux suede. Leather needles are thick and leave permanent holes on the fabric. For this reason, you should be careful while sewing with this needle and ensure that your stitches are lengthened in conjunction with the leather needle.   

8. Topstitch needles

Topstitching needles are designed to allow you to work with thick thread. They have large eyes that can be double the size of the eyes of ordinary needles. They are strong, making them capable of sewing with thick thread without breaking. It is also possible to sew through several layers of fabric using topstitch needles. 

9. Quilting needles

Quilting needles are designed to sew through several layers of fabric. This is made possible by a reinforced shaft which is shorter than that of sharp needles for quick and even stitching. The strong shaft also prevents the needle from bending or breaking. They can also be used to work on bags since they are able to pierce through thicker interfacing and layers.

10. Sharp needles

Sharp needles are also known as microtex needles. They are designed to sew through several layers of fabric. This is made possible by a stronger shaft. They are also sharper than universal needles, allowing them to produce smooth buttonholes. Sharp needles are used to work on fabrics such as tightly woven fabrics, silks, applique, and thin vinyl. Sharp needles are used where paramount precision is needed.

11. Metallic needles

Metallic needles are designed for sewing metallic threads. Metallic needles have larger eyes than ordinary sewing needles. This allows the more valuable thread to feed through more freely eliminating the risk of the thread splitting as a result of sewing motion. Metallic needles sew metallic and other embroidery threads.

12. Embroidery needles

Embroidery threads are designed to have a wider eye than ordinary needles to allow threads such as cotton machine embroidery threads, rayon, or polyester to feed through freely when embroidering. When embroidering, you can miss stitches as a result of a fast-moving embroidery stitch. Embroidery needles feature a pontoon scarf that have an oversized bump that limit the chances of this happening. They do this by reducing movement of the fabric.

13. Wing needles

Wing needles feature flared wings which are found on the sides of the shaft. These needles produce holes in the fabric similar to drawn threadwork. They are used to make decorative stitches and heirloom on fabrics made from natural fibers such as cotton.

14. Handicap/self-threaded needles

Handicap needles are similar to universal needles. However, they are designed to be easier to thread and are made for people who experience difficulty threading a needle. They have a slot that opens into the eye. This makes it easier to thread the needle.

Needle size

Each type of needle is available in a number of sizes. The size of the length refers to the diameter of the shaft of the needle. The needle size is just as important as the needle type. It is therefore important to choose the needle size correctly.

When choosing the needle size, you need to consider the type of fabric you are working on and the weight of the thread you plan to use on your project. If you select a needle that is too large for the thread you are using, you are more likely to skip stitches as you work. Also, the holes will be too large for the stitches, giving you an unappealing result. The size of the needle should correspond to the weight of the fabric.

Needle sizes are defined in two systems; the European and the American system. The size of the needle in the European system is represented as a percentage of a millimeter. A 120 needle, for example, will have a diameter of 1.2mm. The American system is also referred to as the Singer system since it was developed by Singer.

Some types of needles are only available in specific sizes.

Final thoughts

All sewing machine needles are compatible with all sewing machines, you just have to find the right needle for the fabric you are working on. Although finding the right needle for your project may seem overwhelming at first, it gets easier to identify them with time. Choosing the right type and size of sewing needle is important as it will go a long way in helping you improve the quality of your work.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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