Whether you’re just learning to sew, are a seasoned pro, or find yourself somewhere in between the two, one thing is certain; the wrong needle can quickly derail even the simplest project. While all sewing machine needles have the same basic parts, needle shape and size vary depending on what you need. Sewing machine needles are all made up of these basic parts:

  • Shank
    • This is the part of the needle that fits into the sewing machine. The front side is rounded while the back is flat. The flat side goes toward the back of the machine.
  • Shaft
    • This part tapers down from the shank. The needle size is determined by shaft diameter.
  • Groove
    • This is the indentation that runs in the front of the needle to the eye. The thread is seated securely in this groove when the needle penetrates the fabric. You can feel the groove by passing your fingernail over the front of the needle.
  • Scarf
    • The scarf is the indentation on the back of the needle above the eye. The scarf allows the bobbin thread to pass closely to the needle eye catching the needle thread to create a stitch.
  • Eye
    • The eye of the needle is where the thread passes from front to back. The eyes vary depending on the needle.
  • Point
    • The point is the sharp portion of the needle that penetrates the fabric. The points differ depending the type of fabric.

Selecting the correct sewing machine needle for your project is just as important as selecting the right fabric and thread. A good general rule to keep in mind is that the lighter the fabric, the smaller the needle should be. Needles are sized in metric and imperial. The smaller the numbers the finer the needle. Next month, we’ll continue with this needle guide in more detail!