Sewing Machine Thread Vs. Needle Size

Written by emily weller
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Sewing Machine Thread Vs. Needle Size
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Choosing the right needle and thread for the project you are working on is of utmost importance. Some needles will snag delicate fabric while some thread will break easily or won't be compatible with your fabric.


Select your needle size based on the type of fabric you're sewing. Lighter fabric, such as chiffon, will need the smallest needle possible, while heavy fabrics, such as denim, need bigger needles.

Deciphering Needle Size

Two sets of numbers, European and American, are used to describe a needle's size. The European number, which is larger, refers to the needle's diameter just above the eye. The smaller, American number does not correspond to a measurement on the needle. However, the larger that number, the larger the needle. American and European numbers are often used together, meaning you will see needles that are size 90/10 or 120/18.

Needle Type

Choose the type of needle to use based on the fabric you're sewing. Ballpoint needles are great for knits while microtex needles are suitable for silks. A universal needle works for mid-weight cottons and other woven fabrics.

Thread Size

Thread size is noted using numbers or letters. The larger the number, the finer the thread. "A" size thread is fine while "D" size thread is heavy duty. Size 50 is a mid-size thread suitable for most sewing projects.

Thread Type

Thread can be made from cotton, polyester, nylon or silk. Cotton thread is fine for mid-weight cotton fabrics while polyester is good for stretchy fabric and synthetics. Silk thread is very pliable and great for tailoring clothing.

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