Are embroidery needles different from sewing needles

Are Embroidery Needles Different From Sewing Needles

Many sewing enthusiasts find themselves in a bit of a stitching issue when it comes to choosing the right needle for their projects. In critical crafts like sewing, needles play a crucial role in achieving the perfect stitch. But here’s the deal: while both embroidery and sewing involve needlework, they have some fundamental differences that can affect the type of needle you use. Needle sizes and shapes have an effect on your craft.

Embroidery often involves intricate designs and decorative stitching, requiring specialized needles to handle the job with precision and finesse. On the other hand, sewing machines operate at high speeds and require needles that can withstand the mechanical demands of the machine. You may also want to do some hand sewing, too. So, here’s the question for you, are they really interchangeable? Can you use any needle for both embroidery and sewing? Let’s unravel the mystery together and discover the factors that set these needles apart.

Key Takeaways

  • There are 5 basic differences between embroidery and sewing needles that have to do with their overall structure
  • Different kinds of hand sewing needles, sewing machine needles, embroidery needle
  • Their different shapes, sizes, usages, and purposes
  • Explanation of different needles that can be used interchangeably

5 Differences Between Embroidery Needles And Sewing Needles

5 Differences Between Embroidery Needles And Sewing Needles
5 Differences Between Embroidery Needles And Sewing Needles

There are various differences between sewing needles and embroidery needles. We will discuss 5 differences between embroidery needles and sewing needles which are given below:

1. Eye of the Needle

Embroidery needles have oval-shaped larger eyes than regular sewing needles. For this reason, embroidery needles can accommodate thicker and multiple embroidery threads. Tapestry needles and chenille needles have similar-shaped eyes which can thread larger thread or wool. Ribbon embroidery needles have various eye sizes which are dependent on the size of the ribbon. The size of the eye of a needle for twill embroidery depends on the threads, although a standard embroidery needle with a large eye will serve the same purpose.

2. Needle Point

Embroidery needles are sharp; they can pierce through fabrics even when they are tightly woven. Tapestry needles have blunt tips. These types of needles are used when you will be using woven fabric or knit fabric which have larger holes. Whereas, in embroidery, you need to add fine details and embellishments to your clothing or to a blanket.

3. Needle Length

Embroidery needles have different lengths which will depend on what type of thread and fabric have been used. Embroidery needles have sizes between 1 -12, where size 1 being the longest needle and size 12 being the shortest. A size 1 embroidery needle has a length of 48.5 mm and a size 12 needle has a length of 29.5 mm. The needle length is related to its thickness.

4. Needle Thickness

Embroidery needles have various thicknesses. A size 1 embroidery needle has a thickness of 1.02 mm, and a size 12 has a thickness of .41mm. When you are choosing embroidery needles, the thickness of the needle would be an important factor. You should keep in mind that your needle should glide through the fabric without a tug to get it through since there is minimal resistance. For this reason, if you force a needle through a fabric, it will cause friction on the thread, which will make it wear or break more easily.

Embroidery needles should be small enough so that they don’t leave a hole in the fabric while passing the thread through the fabrics.

5. Needle Scarf

Embroidery needles have a scarf that is given to the indentation on the back of the needle that will start next to the eye and go up to the shaft. The purpose of the scarf is to prevent the thread from fraying or breaking when you will be using a needle, which will ensure a sleek finished product.

Hand and Machine Sewing Needle

Since there are both hand needles and machine sewing needles, there is a difference between them which is why there is a distinction between them. So let’s look at how these differ from each other.

Hand Sewing Needle

Hand sewing needle
Hand sewing needle

Hand sewing needles are used to sew by hand. These needles have three features:

  1. Tip
  2. Shaft
  3. Eye

Hand-sewing needles are made of high-carbon steel and they are plated with nickel to avoid corrosion. They can also be plated with gold or platinum. Others are stainless steel. Nickel-plated needles can cause allergies. Gold-plated needles are expensive and they are hypoallergenic. Stainless steel needles are affordable and they are resistant to rust and corrosion. Needles that are plated with titanium can last 7 times longer than other needles. Gold-plated needles are prone to corrosion. Other needles will break, bend, or dull.

Different characteristics of the hand-sewing needle

  1. Size and thickness of the needle.
  2. Size and shape of the needle eye.
  3. The tip of the needle, such as, a sharp or blunt.
  4. The full length of the needle.

Sewing Machine Needle

Sewing machine needle
Sewing machine needle

Sewing machine needles are coated with hard steel material such as nickel, chromium, or titanium nitride.

Here are the different parts of a sewing machine needle that make it fit a machine:

  1. Bottom: The end part of a lies needle which lies at the top.
  2. Shaft: Sewing machine holds this part.
  3. Groove: Where the needle lies and passes through the fabric.
  4. Eye: Through this hole, it carries the fabric.
  5. Point: Goes through the fabric with thread by cutting it or by penetrating it.
  6. Tip: The end pierces the fabric to allow for the sewing.

Different Kinds of Sewing Machine Needles

If you thought the differences ended there, that is not quite so! There are many different kinds of sewing machine needles that you need to be aware of so you fully understand the differences between embroidery needles and sewing needles.

Normal sewing machine needles

Normal sewing machine needles
Normal sewing machine needles
  1. Self-Threading Needle: Self-threading needles are for people with poor eye-sight, there are two kinds of the self-threading needle- v-shaped and spiral self-threading. These v-shaped needles are also known as “self-threading”, “French-spring-eye” or “Calyx-eye”. In this needle, the thread will be in place when you will be pulling the thread through the two- clips. The spiral self-threading needle has a hook. it is not a very popular needle and they are very prone to break.

2. Triple or Twin Needle: These needles are attached to a cross-bar. They are used for row-stitching. To use this needle, your machine should have the capability of zigzag stitching. To use this needle, you are going to need two or three spool holders, so that, each needle can have its own thread source. The numbers for these needles are different than regular sewing machine needles-the first number is the distance between the needles and the second number is the needle size. Triple needles are also labeled as “drilling needles”.

3. Stretch Needle: This needle can be used to sew skipped stitches. It is used to sew Lycra and swimwear. The needle sizes are 11/75 and 90/14.

4. Wing needle: When you are going to try your heirloom details, we will need this needle. It is used for heirloom stitching. It is used for woven fabric. the sizes are 16/100 and 19/120.

5. Leather Sewing Machine Needles: It penetrates through leather and non-woven fabrics. The needle sizes available are 11/75 and 14/90.

Denim/Jeans Needle: This needle is strong enough to go through many layers of fabric. The needle sizes are 10/70 and needle size. The needle sizes are 8 to 19, where 8 is the thin, fine needle and 19 is the thick, heavy needle. If you threading a sheer fabric, you need 8/16. You cannot sew a heavy material with 8/16, for a heavy material such as upholstery a 19/120 is strong enough, it will penetrate through the fabric and it will not break or bend. If you want to use a heavy thread with a fine needle, it will break, if you are using a lightweight fabric with heavy thread, the stitching will not be good. For this, you need a needle that is a size of 12/80.

Embroidery needle

Embroidery needle
Embroidery needle

This needle is designed for sewing machines to do embroidery. They can go through thread, such as rayon or polyester. The sizes of the needle are 11/75 and 14/90.

  1. Regular Embroidery Needle: This needle has oval eyes; they are larger than standard sewing needles. This can be used with multiple strands of embroidery floss. The sharp point at the end is perfect for surface embroidery. The gold-plated needle helps to embroider easily.
  2. Tapestry Needle: This needle has a large eye and the tip is blunt. They are ideal for cross-stitch or needlepoint. The needle holes are large, to pull the thread through the fabric, you do not need any piercing. The needles are beneficial for using hardanger embroidery, pulled thread, and drawn thread work. they are useful for certain stitches, such as basket weaving, the tip will not snag the thread or fabric.
  3. Chenille Needle: This needle has large eyes which are longer in length. The tip of the needle is sharp. These needles are used for thicker thread, such as wool. They can also be used for ribbon embroidery. They are heavier than other embroidery needles. As a result, they make larger holes in the fabric. when you are using cotton floss while embroidering, try to use embroidery needles. You can use sizes from 22-18 for all 6 strands of floss.
  4. Sharps and Between the Needle: These needles have small eyes with a rounded shape. They are used for hand–sewing.
  5. A between needle has a small eye, their length is shorter, and they have a sharp end. They are used for quilting.
  6. Beading Needle: These needles are long, their thickness is very thin, they have small eyes and their ends are sharp. They are used to sew beads and sequins on fabric. Because of the longer length, you can put multiple beads on it, as the eye of the needle is small, so the beads will stay in place.
  7. Huck Needle: These needles are longer and have ball-pointed and angled ends. These needles are used for toweling; they can easily pick up threads that are floating.
  8. Milliner’s Needle: They are used by hat makers. This needle is used for heavy material, pleating, and also ribbon embroidery.
  9. Darning Needle: These needles are used for running stitch, huck, and darning.
  10. Gold-Plated Needles: These needles are for those people who suffer from nickel allergies. Before the plating goes off, this needle should be changed.
  11. The Needle Sizes: Needles have different sizes. The larger the number, the smaller the needle is, the smaller the number, the larger the needle is. The numbers are separated by a slash. You can get sizes from 65/9 to 100/16. 75/11 is the most common size. When buying the needle, look for the first number, you can ignore the second one, for example, 75/11 means the diameter of the needle is .75mm.

Can Sewing Machine Needle Do Embroidery

The sewing machine needle is different from the embroidery needle. The main difference is the eye, embroidery needles have larger eyes, so the thread can pass through the fabric easily. The smaller eye of the sewing machine can create snagging if we are using it for machine embroidery. Some people use sewing machine needles for embroidery without any problem. Although, common cases are, without embroidery needles, threads may start shredding. When you are embroidering with metallic, the situation could be devastating.


Can you embroider with a regular sewing needle?

Embroideries can be done with 75/11 embroidery needles and a normal thread size of 40. you can also use a universal needle but with a less effective result.

What are the three types of embroidery needles?

There are 3 types of embroidery needles, such as embroidery, chenille, and tapestry.

Can you use sewing thread for embroidery?

Embroidery thread is not the same as sewing thread. Sewing thread can be used for embroidery, if you do not have embroidery thread, although, these threads might get locked up or snag while embroidering.

What is the difference between embroidery and normal sewing?

The biggest difference is that they serve different purposes, normal sewing means sewing on a piece of garment, while embroidery is creating designs and patterns on it.

What is the difference between sewing and embroidery machine?

Both of the machines have their own purposes. The sewing machine is used for sewing a fabric you are making, while an embroidery machine is used for embroidery stitching, while, some combinations can allow you to do both stitching.

Final Thoughts

As we have discussed already, for a better result, it is always best to use, embroidery needles for embroidery and sewing needles for sewing. This is also true for embroidery machine needles and sewing machine needles, as both needles have different purposes. if you are using, sewing needles for embroidery, be careful while sewing as this may result in snags, locking up the threads, breakage of threads, etc., in which case, you would have to start your sewing from the start.


Hey I’m Sherry Howes an expert in sewing, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery. With a passion for fiber arts and a talent for crafting, I Have spent years improving my skills and sharing knowledge with others. Whether teaching a class or creating a new project, I’m always excited to share my love of crafting with the world. I like researching new techniques and trends in the crafting arts community.

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