I am constantly asked at work which needle to select for your sewing machine. So I thought I would cover some of the basics here.
There are two things to keep in mind when selecting a needle, the type and the size.
The type of needle needed will be based on what fabric that is being sewing. Needle size is affected by the thickness of the thread and the weight of the fabric you will be using for your project. Rule of thumb, the lighter the fabric the smaller the needle size and heavy fabrics use the larger needle size.
Universal needles have a slightly rounded tip, and this general purpose needle should be used on woven fabric, as well as some sturdy knits.
Stretch needles, often confused with
Jersey needles, are also a
medium ballpoint tip, but these have a special eye and scarf that are designed
for extremely stretchy fabrics and elastic. Swimwear is an ideal application
for this type of needle.
Denim/Jeans Needle, modified medium ball point and reinforced blade. For denim and similar fabrics. For penetrating extra thick woven fabrics, denims, or quilts with minimum needle deflection, reduced risk of needle breakage and skipped stitches.
Quilting Needle, special taper to shaft and sharp point to prevent damage to material sewn in layers.
There are more needles available, however, these are the most commonly used ones.
Needles are super cheap, so change your needle often, they only have a lifespan of 6 to 8 hours of sewing time. This can be even less if the fabric is particularly tough to sew. So change your needles often! Do not risk damaging your project by using a dull needle.