Which Needle should I use?

Stretch, Ballpoint or Regular Needle?

As I sew on a more regular basis I am constantly learning. There have been many times when I have blamed my sewing machine for not sewing well but I am coming to realise that in most instances it is user error - me! I documented about the miraculous improvement to my sewing machine after giving it a little clean and a drop of oil here.

I am now finding that needle choice is making a huge difference to my sew too. I always knew there was a difference between needles for woven fabrics and knit fabrics but I hadn't ventured much further than that. On the whole, sewing woven fabrics hasn't been too problematic and its easy to choose a needle for denim, leather or silk as its quite plainly labelled on the needle packet.

However, sewing knitted or jersey fabrics can be a bit more challenging. This type of fabric is great because it does not fray but it can be very temperamental - or so I thought! Again, I would blame my sewing machine because it doesn't have fancy stretch stitches but usually I'm using the incorrect type of needle.

When I first started sewing, like most beginners, I only used woven fabrics but once I came to Cyprus four years ago and found the world of indie pdf pattern designers I was forced to push myself into the world of knits! I was aware that both Ballpoint and Stretch needles were available but I thought they served the same purpose - I didn't know that they were for different types of knit fabric.

I used to sew any fabric that had stretch to it with a Ballpoint needle and sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn't. When it didn't work it was extremely frustrating and I would end up with a lot of unfinished garments. When tidying through some sewing items a while ago I found a packet of Stretch needles - don't know where they came from - and thought I'd give them a try for a particular project. Success! It turns out that Ballpoint needles are better for knits with an open weave and Stretch needles work better for knits that are more tightly woven. I now find that I sew with my Stretch needle more than any other.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules so its worth having a good selection of needles in your supply. For example, when I was making my Sabrina Slims out of scuba (which is stretchy) I had to sew the hems with my Regular point needle - when I used the Stretch needle it skipped stitches.

I now have a check list if stitches are bunching or skipping:

  • Remove the bobbin and main spool. Check for loose threads and/or lint. Rethread.

  • Try a different needle type

  • Have long have you been using this particular needle? Perhaps you need a fresh one.

  • Still having problems? It might need a better clean out and some oil.

Geordiehandbag's Sewing Adventures


Welcome to my Sewing Blog! 

My name is Joanne and I love to sew. Here I'll be sharing my hand-made makes and giving my honest opinion on pdf patterns and how easy they are to understand and construct.