What Size Sewing Machine Needle for Cotton

The right needle thread could be the difference between your project’s success or failure. Using the wrong needle will follow broken lines and skipped stitches, all of which will drive you further from your goal of having the professional look you may be aiming for.

The market has a wide assortment of needles for sewing which come in all types of packaging. Working with needles designed for cotton will yield the best results. A good needle is only as good as the machine you will be using. It is therefore essential to make sure the needle suits both the materials and the machine you will be using.

This article will guide you on the world of cotton needs and what would be best for you.

What is the Right Size Needle for Cotton?

Medium-sized needles like 80/12, 90/14 work best with cotton. They work best with pieces of cotton, denim fabric, light-weight upholstery, and other fabrics of similar weight. The eye of the needle is also best for general sewing jobs working well with 50-weight cotton and general use polyester.

What do Sewing Numbers Really Mean?

When describing needle numbers you will often see two numbers divided by a backslash; for example 80/12 sizes for cotton. The first number indicates the European size while the other number refers to America.

From the thinnest European needle to the thickest, the sizes range from 60 – 100. American sizes, on the other hand, range from 8 – 18. This could give you a sense of whether you are using the right needles; for example, a 70/10 needle used on jeans could go out of service rather easily.

Here is a guide on needle sizes and their use:

  • 60/8 – This is meant for light fabrics such as organza, georgette, and muslin
  • 70/10 – This works best with light silk or even polyester. The materials are best for making light blouses.
  • 80/12 – This is the most commonly used option for fabrics such as cotton, blends, and rayon.
  • 90/14 – This works best with medium-weight fabric like plain bristle and corduroy.
  • 100/16 – This needle is better for thicker materials like denim and duck cloth.
  • 110/18 – Heavy fabrics like canvas work best with this needle
  • 120/19 – For fabrics on the heavier spectrum, such as materials used to create handles for bags, this size works the best.

How to Choose a Needle to Use for Cotton?

Sewing machines needles are designed for use on particular types of fabric. The cotton fabric typically utilizes the 80/12 and the 90/14 needle sizes. Though it’s best recommended you use these needles for the cotton, they can find use on a variety of other projects.

The decision on which needle to use ultimately depends on your level of expertise with cotton fabric and sewing as well as the availability of the needles. Here are some needles and their differing functions on different materials.


These needles are great for sewing leather, thick suede, vinyl, and thick non-woven fabrics. When working with these needles, you should take a great deal of care because they tend to leave permanent holes in your material. This helps prevent too much perforation of the material you are working on.

The Universal

These needles are sharp enough to penetrate the fabric. They are also slightly rounded which makes them ideal for knits. They find a lot of use when working with fabrics, particularly cotton.

The Serger

These needles are used in industrial machines as they have been specifically designed for overlock machines. They have an appointed tip that allows for greater versatility. The needles can comfortably be used in all fabrics.

These needles come in different sizes to be fitted in the most conventional sewing machines. Before you install this needle or any needles, in particular, you should make sure to check the manual to ensure the needle and your sewing machines are compatible.

Types of sewing machine needles


This needle is of special use; it has a singular axis that ties into two separate needles. This is usually in use when the designer would like to make two perfectly matched stitches, typically on jeans or decorative stitches.

The sewing machine has to be compatible with this needle having a double-needle and two separate spools of line. They are widely available in jeans, metallic, embroidery, and universal needles.


This needle is characterized by extra large eyes. It is designed to be used for monofilament and metallic threadwork. It has a pointed tip and a large groove scarf. The needle is used for sewing metal threads along with fabrics.


These needles are best for embroidery work. They feature a large eye, a wide groove, and an extra sharp point which makes them perform decorative work. They can use all-purpose needle thread.

This needle gives a clean professional look leaving none of the stitches visible on the outside.


This is the most preferred needle for knits. Its rounded design allows the needle to pass through the fabric and pierce them. It works well with thick fabrics. It also comfortably works with spandex.

Frequently Asked Question

When can I use stretch needles?

Often confused with jersey needles, these needles are best used for materials that stretch a lot. Their design consists of a specially designed eye which allows them to work easier with very elastic fabrics. When working with swimwear this is the best needle for you to use.

Are my needles reusable?

Typically, you can re-use your needles after a project. However, it is recommended you should switch out your needle at least once after each project you undertake. This makes your next project flow so much easier.

Luckily, needles are not too expensive and can be replaced without much of a pinch financially.


The best sewing needles are the medium-sized variety in the same range as 80/12 and 90/14. These needles are not just relegated to cotton but can find use with other materials such as denim and silk dupioni.

As important as the needle of your choice, you should also consider the machine you will be using. Using the appropriate needle with a compatible machine will yield the best results.