In this final part of our short series on Sewing Needles Jon and Callum talk about which are the best Schmetz needles to use for different fabrics or specialist sewing.

If we are to improve our technique and get the best results from our efforts then using the correct needle for the job is equally as important as the right fabric and thread.

Needle Sizes

The size of a needle is calculated by its diameter, thus a 90 needle is 0.9mm in diameter. You will see that the higher the number the thicker the needle will be. A previous method of numbering was from 8 to 20 and those numbers equate to the current system as follows.

Size 8 = 60, Size 10 = 70, Size 11= 75, Size 12 = 80, Size 14 = 90, Size 16= 100, Size 18= 110, Size 20 = 120.

A Quick Guide

No.60 – Silks

No.70 – Lightweight fabrics

No.80 – Medium weight fabrics

No.90 – Medium heavyweight fabrics

No.100 – Heavy weight fabrics

No.110 – Upholstery fabrics.

No. 120 – Denim and Heavy Canvas

If in doubt, it cheaper to buy some new needles than repair your machine!

Specialist Schmetz Needles

Schmetz manufacture comprehensive range of specialist needle,. Here is a quick preview.

The Spring Needle will give complete freedom, allowing free machine embroidery without a darning foot or even a hoop. When the needle is withdrawn from the fabric the spring holds the fabric in place preventing any ‘popping’. The needle is a size 80 Schmetz Spring Needle.

The Wing Needle cuts holes in the fabric when the needle penetrates creating a spoke stitch effect.

‘N’ needles or topstitch needle with a huge eye  allow metallics and thicker threads to pass through smoothly. The ‘N’ needle will take two or three threads at a time. This is a needle Barnyarns recommend and will always suggest you purchase if using metallic threads.

‘E’ Needle, with an elongated eye, although not as big as the ‘N’ needle, but longer than the standard universals, allowing you to thread thicker threads easier. Look for an Embroidery Needle.

The Stretch needle fshould be used or highly elastic synthetic knitwear like lightweight or silk jerseys but choose a Microtex for silk and microfibre fabrics.

Jeans needles are for use on tougher  denim and similar densely woven materials, artificial leather, waxed cloth and vinyl.

Leather needles are for leather and artificial leather and have a full range of points to choose fro depending on what you are creating.

Quilting needles are made stronger to be able to cope with layers of fabric and wadding, the quilting needles are also longer from the tip to the eye.

Twin needles are great fun. Before ordering check that the hole in the base plate of your machine is wide enough to take the needle to avoid damaging the needle or you machine. Use the twin needle for tuck-piping and ornamental seams.  Triple Needles are half as much fun again as twin needles. As most machines have only two tension discs you will need to feed one thread on one side and two threads on the other. You will also need to place the third cop of thread in a cup or bowl behind the machine and thread from there. 

We would like to thank Jon and Callum for their support and advice to UKQU and if you would like any further information then take a visit to their website  Don’t forget to claim their generous discount for all our members too.  Click here for details.

In the coming weeks there will be further articles and videos to bring you valuable advice from our craft and industry experts to help you improve your technique.

If you would like further help and advice then visit the Barnyarns website or take a trip to their shop in Northallerton. They can usually be found at the main exhibitions happening around the UK this year. Check out our events calendar and see whats going on in your area.