How to Identify Machine Embroidery and Sewing Needles

Identifying Machine Embroidery and Sewing Needles with

After holiday sewing (or any large project for that matter), you may have a  machine needle or two laying around. Ideally, we should use Bonnie’s pretty Needle Keeper. You can see a tutorial on just how easy it is to make here.

Picture of front cover of Needle Keeper in-the-hoop project at Sew Inspired by Bonnie

Not only does the Needle Keeper help you to keep your needles organized and within reach, it also allows you to see just how much you have used each needle and tracks which needle is currently in use in your machine. Needles do have a life span and Bonnie explains when you should change out your machine embroidery needle here.

Without a genius organizer like Bonnie’s Needle Keeper, it’s pretty difficult to identify your stray machine embroidery and sewing needles. These resources will help!

Machine Embroidery and Sewing Needle Sizes

Machine needles are sized by a combination of Metric and American standards dating to 1942. So 60/8, 70/10, 80/12, 90/14, and 100/16 is how we most often choose and purchase our needles. Numbers refer to the diameter of the needle so the lower the number, the smaller the needle.

Other characteristics identify the eye of the needle and the needle point, as in a topstitch or a microtext/sharp, as well as whether they are chrome plated or titanium coated.

Identifying Machine Embroidery and Sewing Needles

There are ways to ID your stray needles. One is pretty easy and the other, if you’re like me, will require a magnifying glass.

Identifying Machine Embroidery and Sewing Needles with

Schmetz probably has the easiest markings to identify. In addition to the needle size imprinted on the shank, Schmetz adds two color bars to the shoulder.

Schmetz needle ID chart

The top band tells you what needle type it is, like embroidery, metallic, topstitch, etc. The bottom band indicates the needle size, 80/12, 90/14, etc.

Identifying Machine Embroidery and Sewing Needles with

Most other brands, like Organ and Superior Threads, also have the needle size stamped on the shank. This is where I need the magnifying glass.

Superior Topstitch Needles

I primarily use Superior topstitch needles. If you use them long enough, you can get an idea of the needle number by the size of the eye.

Debbie Henry
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

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  • Debbie Henry - January 13, 2024

    Thanks for reading, Brenda!

  • Brenda Hanna - January 09, 2024

    Thank you for the info on the needles. Very informative

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