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Sewing Machine Needle Sizes

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Understanding the numbers associated with sewing machine Needles will help you make the correct choice and possibly solve machine problems.
Sewing Machine Needle Size Chart

Sewing Machine Needle Size Chart

Debbie Colgrove, Licensed to About.com
All the numbers associated with sewing machine needles can stop you in your tracks. It's actually a simple labeling system; the confusion comes in because they are using a European and American labeling system.
  • The American system uses 8 to 19, 8 being a fine needle and 19 being a thick heavy needle.

  • European sizes range from 60 to 120, 60 being a fine needle and 120 being a thick heavy needle.
Now let's look at fabric associated with needle size.
  • Think of a fine sheer window curtain. You will need a fine needle such as a 8/60 needle. Using a 19/120 would leave holes in the fabric.

  • Now let's look at heavy upholstery fabric. If you were to try and sew through upholstery fabric with a 8/60 needle, it would bend or break. Using a 19/120 provides a needle strong enough to penetrate the fabric and carry a thread strong enough for this type of fabric.

  • Now let's look at a combination … You have a lightweight fabric but you want to do a heavy topstitching detail with heavy thread. Normally the heavy thread would call for you to use a heavy needle such as a 120/19, but that would leave holes in your fabric. Now you would experiment with a needle that falls somewhere in the middle such as an 80/12.
Always test your thread and fabric combination on scraps of fabric rather than the item you are working on. Consider the needle as dangerous as a scissors going into your fabric.

You may find a needle size listed as 90/14 or 14/90. The order of the numbers does not effect the size.

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