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A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Sewing Needles


Choosing the right Needle for your sewing project could be the factor which determines how successful the end product will be. You may have previously thought there was just one type of needle to use, but we’re here to tell you there are lots, and the needle you will need to use will depend on what material you are working with.

As a beginner you have to do your research – this is not something that can be snap-decision!

Imagine spending hours upon hours creating the perfect product, whether it be an item of clothing; cushion; teddy, or anything in between. You put your heart and soul, not to mention your time, into creating something wonderful – and it just doesn’t turn out how you imagined. This is what could happen to you if you don’t read the fabric recommendations for your chosen project and pick a suitable needle – so don’t let it happen.

Here at Fred’s Haberdashery, we’re here to help! With years of experience in the business, we know everything there is to know about creating the perfect product. Follow our simple guide to picking the right needle for fabrics:

A basic understanding of fabrics

There are so many different materials out there for you to use – in fact, for a beginner, it can be somewhat overwhelming! But once you’ve got over the initial shock, you’ll realise there are some basic rules to follow to help choose the right material.

The first thing you need to know is that there are fabrics that work well for certain garments, and ones that don’t. Once you establish this, you’re well on your way to creating a professional, and most importantly durable, project.

If you think one needle type will be suitable for all materials, think again. Each material is unique, from cotton, which you can use a Household Assorted needle pack for; to leather or denim, for example, which are much thicker and usually require a Leather hand needle with an arrow point.

Fabrics to avoid as a beginner

If you are just starting to learn how to sew, it might be more beneficial for you to gain some experience before experimenting with certain materials. This is because certain fabrics are really difficult to work with, and require a specialised needle. And while we are trying to build confidence in your new found sewing passion, we know by experience how badly projects can end if you jump straight into the deep end.

So before we go into the best fabrics to use, let’s go through some of the harder materials to use and what type of needle they require:

– Denim. Most of us wear denim in some form – with some of the most popular denim garments being jeans, jackets, tops and skirts. It can be tempting to make yourself a nice denim garment as your first sewing project. However, denim is not an easy material to work with, in that it is extremely thick! This means that a regular needle will not work well when using denim. At Fred’s Haberdashery, we recommend using a stronger needle when sewing denim by hand, such as a Leather Needles or Chenille Needles. For a sewing machine, we recommend 100/16 needles.

– Satin. A satin garment is a real show-stopper. It is silky and looks wonderful when done right- however the benefit of this material is also its drawback. The smoothness of the fabric makes it difficult to work with, and it is hard to keep it still while sewing. For these reasons, we recommend sewing satin with a machine, using a 70/9 or 80/11 needle.

– Stretchy Knits. You may have had knit fabric down as an easy one to work with, but you have to be very careful when using this material, one wrong move and your project will be ruined. For a beginner, it is not a fabric we recommend using as it needs to be stretched as little as possible as you sew, and over-stretching can cause gathers, making your garment look unprofessional. If you do decide to have a go at sewing with knit fabric, we recommend using a ballpoint needle, as with any stretch materials.

So what do we recommend?

Sewing is very much about trial and error, and you will soon discover the materials you can work well with and those you are going to avoid, as well as the best needle to use for the garment you wish to create.

We recommend starting off using cotton as your fabric choice and using a 90/14 needle for machine, or a Household Assorted pack if you are sewing by hand, as these are easy to get hold of, cheap, and the most commonly used. Cotton is easy to work with, easy to cut and is the least likely to run you into any difficulties. It can be used for almost any project you wish to create, it is a very versatile fabric!

So, at least for your first few pieces, try starting off with cotton. Once you are confident in your sewing skills, then move on to more challenging fabrics that require specialised needles.

We don’t want you to give up your sewing passion before it’s even began, so start off easy!

Finish off your garment

At Fred’s Haberdashery, not only do we offer a range of needles and thread you will need for your garment, we also supply a range of trimmings, fastenings, ribbons and lace, and more that will finish off your garment and make it look attractive and professional.

Get in contact today

Here at Fred’s Haberdashery, we are always happy to help! Why don’t you visit our store in Chesterfield or give us a call on 01246 204 504 for advice and/or to purchase all the materials you will need to create your perfect product.