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How to Choose the Right Sewing Machine Needle for Quilting

How to Choose the Right Sewing Machine Needle for Quilting

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What’s the deal with sewing machine needles for quilting? Universal Needles, Quilting Needles, Microtex Sharp Needles, Topstitching Needles…. there so many different types. How do you know which one the right type for your quilting project? I’m going to break down today the differences between the different types of sewing machine needles and which one is the right one for you.

Today we are going to discussing the Schmetz brand of sewing machine needles, as I believe they are the best needles on the market and use them exclusively.

There are a couple of definitions that you need to know about to know before we get started.

Point Style – This refers to how the point of the needle is shaped and generally defines what type of needle it is.

Sizes – This refers to what size the needle comes in and defines what type or thickness of fabric it should be used with as well as the weight of thread being used.

Color Code – This is the color that you will find on the shaft of the needle to tell you what type of needle it is when not in the packaging.

Piecing – This is where you sew fabric pieces together to make the quilt top.

Quilting – Stitching (sometimes decorative) through the three layers of quilt, top, batting, and backing to hold them all in place.

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Types of Sewing Machine Needles for Quilting

Universal Needle

  • As the name suggests this is a multi-purpose needle that is good for a variety of projects however this is not the one to handle lots of layers.
  • The point style is slightly rounded and does not have a color code.
  • It comes in quite a few sizes with the most commonly used being sizes 75/11, 80/12, 90/14.

Quilting Needle

  • This needle has a thin shaft and is designed for both piecing and machine quilting through the quilt sandwich (top, batting, binding).
  • The point style is slightly rounded with a tapered shaft that pierces through several layers of woven fabric at one time without damaging them.
  • It comes in sizes 75/11, 80/12, 90/14, and has a green color code stripe on the needle to identify it.

Topstitching Needle

  • This needle has a long eye and a deep groove down the shaft that is designed to accommodate heavier threads or fabrics being used.
  • The point style is quite sharp and pointed.
  • It comes in sizes 80/12, 90/14, 100/16, and does not have a color code. The larger sizes will make bigger holes in the fabric, so be sure to use the right size thread with these needles.

Microtex Sharp Needle

  • This needle has a thin shaft and sharp point that is used for fine wovens such as poplin cotton, voile, and lawn.
  • The point style is quite sharp and pointed and produces very nice stitches that are perfect for piecing.
  • It comes in sizes 60/8, 65/9, 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, and has a purple color code stripe. The thinner needle is more apt to break and should be changed more often. If the needle breaks often it is recommended to increase the needle size.

You can download a pdf version of this chart by heading to the resource library.

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Thursday 13th of January 2022

I. Very new at piecing for quilts so what should I definitely use in needle to get best results thank you lost in stitches Ms tina


Friday 4th of June 2021

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Denise A Lokuta

Tuesday 21st of July 2020

How do you know what size to pick? 70/10, 80/12 or 90/14 This is for piecing and then machine quilting.


Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

It depends on the weight of the fabric. For normal quilting cottons I use a 90/14 but it is fine to use an 80/12 as well for piecing. For quilting I would definitely use the 90/14.

Carol Ryan

Thursday 16th of July 2020

thank you so much

Carol Ryan

Thursday 9th of July 2020

What is your needle recommendation if sewing a satin quilt topper? Thanks


Tuesday 14th of July 2020

I would recommend a micro sharp needle. It is thin enough to handle the delicate fabric. I would go with a 70/10 or 65/9 in size.

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