What size sewing machine needle for cotton

What Size Sewing Machine Needle For Cotton – Expert Opinion

The sewing machine has evolved the dress-making experience to the next level. You can make anything you want simply with fabrics, a sewing machine, and a creative mind. This machine has many important parts and one of them is the needle.

If you feel like you do not know what size of needle your sewing machine has or how to change the needle, then you are not alone. There are many sewists who have this same question and still do not know how to do all these. Don’t worry, have patience.

This article is all about what size sewing machine needles are used for different cotton, how to choose the right needle, and the importance of changing the needle. You will be overwhelmed to know the easiest way to do all those. Just sit there and read carefully.

Key Takeaways

Sewing Machine Needle Sizes

Sewing machine needle sizes
Sewing machine needle sizes

A sewing machine has many options for needles. Modern sewing machines are programmed to sew in many different ways and a variety of cotton and fabrics. Now, you need to understand that there are 2 kinds of sizing according to the labeling system.

The first one is the American labeling system. This one uses lower category numbers. It starts with 8, 9, 10, and up to 19 according to thickness. On a scale 8 is the thinnest needle and 19 is the thickest.

The other one is the European sizes range which starts from 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, and up to 120. This one is also the same. 60 is a fine needle and 120 is a thick heavy needle. This system uses higher category numbers to determine sewing machine needle size.

Now, let’s look at a combination. If you want to do a heavy top-stitching detail with heavy thread, normally, the heavy thread would call for you to use a heavy needle such as a 19/120. This way, you will ensure both labels. There will be zero possibility of making mistakes. In the same way, the thinnest 8/60, 9/65, 10/70, and 19/120 the thickest, are the way of numbering the size of sewing machine sizes.

Different Needles for Different Cotton

The number on the sewing machine needle bundle can give you an idea of the thickness of the fabric you can use the needle to sew. The greater the number, the heavier the material you can sew. Similarly, the smaller the number, the thinner the fabric is.

There is a simple guide to help you determine the sewing machine needle size that is right for the project at hand:

Different needles for different cotton
Different needles for different cotton
  • Sizes (8/60, 9/65, 10/70): This category is for thinner cotton and fabrics like fine silk, fine lace, chiffon, organza, and voile. This category of needles is less harmful and smooth to sew with relaxation.
  • Sizes (11/75, 12/80): These are for a bit tight kinds of synthetic fiber cotton like synthetic voile, silk, lycra, and spandex.
  • Size (14/90): This is a medium category of sewing needle for kinds of cotton such as linen, velvet, muslin, jersey, light wool, fine corduroy, tricot, knits, fleece, and sweatshirt knit.
  • Size (16/100): This is a heavy category of sewing needles to sew hard fabrics like denim, canvas, corduroy, and leather.
  • Size (18/110): This needle is pretty much strong to sew heavier kinds of cotton like heavy denim, heavy canvas, faux fur, and upholstery fabric.
  • Size (20/120): This is the thickest needle to sew the heaviest and extra heavy kinds of cotton and fabrics.

How To Choose the Right Size Sewing Needle?

How to choose the right size sewing needle
How to choose the right size sewing needle

You have to change your needle according to your fabric.  Thinner needles are sharper and make small holes in mild fabrics.  A thin needle ensures the needle goes into the fabric nicely without destroying the weave, thereby eliminating gaps in the stitch line.

Thicker needles make large holes that use to sew heavy-duty fabrics like canvas or denim. The channel thickness ensures that the needle will penetrate all the layers without breaking and form a sturdy stitch line.

Schmetz makes special needles for specific fabrics, like stretching, metallic, vinyl, and more. The needle points of the subject needles are designed for individual fabrics.  For example, Jersey or ballpoint needles are used for sewing knits and have rounded points to slip between the weave of the fabric.

Leather needles have a cutting point to pierce leather since it is not woven material. This specialty of needles is designed to work with the fabric type to create even and sturdy seam lines. You must study deeply to select the right sewing machine needle for your cotton.

See Also: Can You Put Linen In The Dryer?

Why Do You Need To Change the Needle?

Changing the sewing needle can be a little scary. But it is an essential skill you need to learn when sewing. A dull or broken needle will damage your fabric and also your machine. An unsharpened needle may also cause your thread to a web or your machine to drop stitches.

Changing the sewing needle can be a little scary. But it is an essential skill you need to learn when sewing. A dull or broken needle not only damage your fabric but also your machine. An unsharpened needle may also cause your thread to a web or your machine to drop stitches.

If you are experiencing these problems, it may be a good idea to change your needle first. This guide is designed to help you resolve any issues that may lead to a dull or broken needle. It is a good idea to change your needle every 5-10 hours of sewing or every two projects.

How to Change the Needle – Step by Step

Changing the sewing needle can be difficult, but not impossible. A few steps can give you a clear view to do that easily.

How to change the needle - step by step
How to change the needle – step by step

Step 1

Grab the needle with your left hand and loosen the screw at the top of the needle with your right hand. Holding the needle means it won’t drop down into your machine or floor. This is especially important if your needle is broken. Mostly, the sewing machine will come with a tool like a screwdriver that will help you to loosen the screw.

Step 2

Pull it down to remove the needle and out of the clamp it usually sits in.

Step 3

Insert your new needle with the thick side of the needle rod facing toward the back of the sewing machine. Do this by re-inserting the needle into the clamp with your left hand as high as it goes.

Step 4

Now tighten the screw with your right hand and hold the needle in place. Do not tighten too much, as it will be tough next time to change the needle. But also do not leave it too loose. This may cause the needle to open up to fall.

Step 5

Rethread your needle as per your machine’s specific instructions.


Which size needle is most commonly used?

The sizes category from 13 to 26 is the most popular size that is used widely. Sizes between 13 to 14 are normally used for heavy and coarse fabrics. These needles are very short and thin with rounded eyes.

What size needle is best for cotton?

The best choice for lighter cotton is a sharp needle number of 14 needles or (90/14). If cotton is unlined or used in a lightweight, unlined garment, such as a cotton blouse, it may be best to use a cotton special needle 12/80 and then finish by hand with cotton thread to ensure that the stitches don’t pull out.

Which needle is best for stitching?

In the category of 10/70 are thinnest and best for sewing light fabrics like silk. The 80/11 needles work best with medium-weight fabrics like cotton, and the 90/14 needles do best with medium to heavy fabrics.

Final Thoughts

As a beginner, you may be confused and afraid of all these needles and sewing machines. But, trust me, when you learn more and more about sewing, you will be amazed to see how creative you can be. For sewing different cotton and fabrics, you must maintain the size of the needle. Otherwise, you will have a shy experience like me. These silly things happen at first which makes the most of the fun of sewing. Happy sewing.


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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