Are Sewing Machine Needles Universal? Does One Fit All?

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Last Updated on 23 September, 2021 by

Can You Get Universal Sewing Machine Needles?

There is a huge range of sewing needles on the market, whether you need needles for embroidery or sewing leather, there is a special needle out there for the job that will give you best the finish.

But you might be wondering, is there no such thing as universal needles that fit every sewing machine?

There are indeed universal needles that can be switched out and interchanged between different machines but they are mainly for domestic use, not for use on embroidery machines or overlocker sewing machines.

To find out more about universal needles, what type you might need and what size needles you need for your sewing project we have put together a short guide about sewing needles for your machine below.

What Are Universal Sewing Needles?

Universal sewing needles are a type of needle which is most commonly used on domestic sewing machines. These needles have a flat face on the needle shank and can be used on a variety of different machines, typically coming in a pack.

We have listed out the common sizes of universal sewing needles down below.

  • 70/10 - This universal needle size is great for thinner and more delicate fabrics such as silk.
  • 80/12 - Perfect for cotton or spandex fabrics.
  • 90/14 - These work great on velvet or muslin.
  • 100/16 - Great for sewing denim and leather heavy fabrics.
  • 110/18 - If you need to sew heavy fabrics these size needles are your go-to.

Do The Size Of Needles Matter?

Typically, the length of needles never change but the width does, the size of needles are represented with an American size and a European size. The American sizes range between 6-18 and are the second in the slash while the first number is the European sizes ranging between 50-110.

When working with thinner and lighter fabrics, you should always be using smaller sized needles and for heavyweight fabrics, you will need needles with a thick diameter.

What Type Of Sewing Needle Do I Use?

As well as selecting the right size and fit of needle for your machine you also need to select the right type according to the fabric you are sewing. For polyester and cotton, you can typically get away with a smaller 80 size and a universal needle.

We will list the other types below.

  • Stretch - These needles work great with spandex and do not miss stitches thanks to their design which works great on elastic material.
  • Microtex - A thin and sharp needle that is perfect for working on finer materials.
  • Quilting - The shaft of this needle is very robust and can sew multiple layers of fabric together for quilting.
  • Industrial - Best for overlocker machines and industrial purposes.
  • Twin - This is great for decorative sewing and works in a twin needle design.
  • Leather - Leather needles give a fine finish and work best on tougher materials.
  • Wing - A large-sized needle with wings for decorative sewing.
  • Denim - Best for using on tightly woven fabric like denim.
  • Embroidery - These needles avoid thread shedding and are perfect for decorative use.
  • Metallic - Used for leather or with metallic threads.
  • Ballpoint - Works best on close-knit fabrics.
  • Topstitching - Used for topstitching threads.

FAQs About Universal Sewing Needles

Can you use a double-needle on any sewing machine? 

You can indeed use a double-needle on any type of sewing machine as long as it can sew straight stitches and zig-zag stitches. A double-needle can only be used on sewing machines that sew straight if it has a wide enough foot opening.

What is a 70/10 needle used for? 

A 70/10 needle is best for lightweight fabrics like silk and it will not tear the material.

When should I replace the needle on my machine? 

You should replace the needle on your sewing machine as soon as it starts to get dull or damaged, by rule, this is typically around eight hours after use.

What size needle do I need for cotton? 

For cotton material, you need a needle size of around 80/12 as it is midweight material.

How many parts are there to a needle? 

There are main parts to a needle such as; the shank, shoulder, shaft, groove, scarf, eye and point.

Can you use 90/14 needles on heavyweight fabrics?

You can use 90/14 needles on heavyweight fabrics but 100/16 needles tend to work a little better as they have a thicker and stronger shaft for dealing with the thicker fabric.

Final Words

Overall, there are universal sewing needles out there to use on any domestic sewing machines but these are not meant for working on industrial machines such as embroidery or overlocker machines that need specialised needles.

You should always make sure you use the right kind of needle for the fabric you are sewing and that it's the right size too, always change your needle once it becomes dull or damaged.

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Mum, Wife and Blogger at, having excelled at textile arts in school, I soon thereafter embarked my journey as an assistant to a Fashion Designer. This fueled my passion for making clothes and soon lead me to creating Top Sewing Machines. A site where I talk sewing machines, overlockers along with tips and tricks and buyers guides.
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