The numbers associated with sewing machine needles use a European and an American labeling system. So if you see 75/11 on a needle card, the 75 is the European equivalent of the American 11. If the numbers are reversed (11/75) it’s still the same needle. As the chart shows, the American system uses 8 to 19 with the 8 representing a lighter, finer needle and 19 representing a heavier, thicker needle. The European sizes range from 60 to 120 with 60 representing a lighter, finer needle and the 19 representing a heavier, thicker needle.
A good choice for a delicate fabric would be a size 8/60 needle. For heavier, sturdier fabrics a size 19/120 would work best. Depending on your desired effect, you might do some experimenting on scrap fabric if you are using unique thread and/or fabric.
For example, a size 1 needle will be thicker and longer, while a size 10 will be shorter and finer. Specialty needles like Chenille and Tapestry needles sport higher numbers.
Types of hand sewing needles that I sell are:
Sharps – general purpose sewing. They have a sharp point, a round eye and are of medium length. The difference between sharps and other sewing needles can mainly be seen in their length. Very thin acute point creates beautiful topstitching and perfectly straight stitches for quilt piecing when precision is paramount.
Spiral Eye Side Threading needles come in a variety of sizes and types. The precision cut and the geometry of the eye allows for most material to slide over the opening on the side. Good for those with low vision or dexterity issues.
Embroidery (also known as Crewel) needles are identical to sharps but have a longer eye to enable easier threading of multiple embroidery threads and thicker yarns.
Betweens or Quilting needles are shorter, with a small rounded eye and are usually used for making fine stitches on heavy fabrics such as in tailoring, quilt making and other detailed handwork.
Easy- or Self-threading needles, also called Handicap Needles, have a slot for the thread, rather than an eye and can be threaded easily.
Spiral Eye needles have a slot in the side of the eye to make threading easier. They can be threaded without your glasses on and are helpful if you have dexterity issues. The precision and design of these needles allows the needle to stay threaded while in use and with most material will slide over the side opening.
Chenille needles are similar to tapestry needles, but have large, long eyes and a very sharp point to penetrate close weave fabrics. Useful for ribbon embroidery. Sizes 13-26.
Tapestry needles have a large eye and a blunt tip. They are used for working on loosely woven fabrics, embroidery canvas, & even-weave material. The blunt tip allows the needle to pass through the fabric without damaging it. Sizes from 13 (heaviest) to 28 (finest).