Pick the best needles for knits: Sewing with knits 101
What are the best knitting needles, as well as what each type is good for and when to use one over the other?
Sewing Machine Needle Basics
Knit fabrics, unlike woven fabrics, are made up of a series of loops that interlock together, resulting in skipped stitches, snags, or, in the case of spandex knits, no stitch at all when using a knit needle.
How to pick the best needles for knits
You’ll have to do some experimenting here, and it’s not a bad idea to buy a few different knit needles to get a feel for them. Here are some good guidelines for selecting a good needle for a knit fabric project.
Less stretch=universal or ballpoint
If you’re having trouble with skipped stitches with a universal or ballpoint, try a stretch knit. Lower stretch knits, such as ponte or sweatshirting, aren’t as fussy as other knits, and universals and ballpoints work great on them. Cotton knits also work well with universals and ballpoints.
Ballpoint needles are a great choice for sweater knits with a loose open structure because they can safely slide in between the loops and create a nice clean stitch.
More stretch=play it safe with a stretch needle
Stretch needles have a slightly different point than regular ballpoints or universals, and they’re designed for fabrics with spandex/lycra. They’re great for ITY, rayon jersey, 2 or 4-way stretch fabrics, and anything with lycra, particularly knitwear.
Get pretty stitches on lycra with this tip
On ultra stretchy fabrics, narrow zigzag isn’t a good choice (look at the tunneling!). *Hint*: Narrow the stitch width for a better stitch. You get tunneling on the ITY and the swimwear fabric, but the narrower zagzag is nice and flat.
Double needle for hemming knits
Hemming knits with a double needle is lovely because it creates two parallel rows of stitching on the right side of the fabric, which mimics the look of hems on ready-to-wear knits made on a coverstitch machine.
How to use a double needle
To use a double needle, thread your machine with a second spool of thread, pass both threads through the tension disks as you would on a regular machine, and then stitch away with a straight or narrow zigzag stitch.
The thing about straight stitches + double needles
With a double needle, you can use a straight stitch, but you should test it first because knits are stretchy and require a stitch with some stretch. What stitches have stretch? Anything in the zigzag family – there is stretch between the zigs and the zigs.
Narrow zigzag for double needles
For thicker fabrics, reduce the width of your standard zigzag stitch to 0.5mm and keep the length between 2.5-3.0mm; narrow zigzags are also a good choice for sewing seams on knit fabric!
Don’t be afraid to experiment when you sew knits
Some fabrics are more finicky than others, so you may need to experiment with a few different needles and stitches. Always practice your stitches on a scrap of fabric! Need more help sewing knits? Check out this discussion on how to sew knits without a serger.
What needle do you use for stretch fabric?
Chart of Quick Reference
|Sewing Machine Needle Type||Needle Size||Fabric Type|
|Stretch needles||75 (11)||Light lycra, elasticised fabrics|
|90 (14)||Elastic, heavier lycra, elasticised fabrics|
|Jeans needles||90 (14)||Denim, tightly woven fabrics|
|100 (16)||Heavy denim, vinyl, furnishings|
Can I sew knits with a regular sewing machine?
You have a few options for sewing knits on a regular machine. When sewing knit fabrics on your sewing machine, look for jersey or ballpoint needles, which have a dull tip that slides between the fibers of the fabric rather than through them.
What type of pins and needles are used with knit fabric?
Jersey needles have a medium ballpoint tip designed specifically for knit fabrics, allowing the needle to slip between the knit fibers without breaking or damaging them. Universal needles have a slightly rounded tip and should be used on wovens and some sturdy knits.
What size needle do you use for upholstery?
A larger needle, such as a 100/16, 110/18, or 120/20, is required for heavy weight fabrics like denim, canvas, and upholstery. The heavier the fabric, the larger the needle size required. Do I need a larger needle?
What size needle do you use for cotton?
Medium-sized needles, such as the 80/12 and 90/14, are ideal for quilting cotton fabric, lightweight upholstery, denim, silk dupioni, and other fabrics of similar weight. The needle’s eye is sized for general sewing threads like all-purpose polyester and 50-weight cotton.
What is an 80 11 needle used for?
Regular point needles from SINGER are designed for machine stitching and are best for lightweight woven fabrics. Needles are compatible with SINGER, Brother, Kenmore, and other high-quality sewing machines.
Do I need a walking foot to sew knits?
A walking foot, also known as an Even Feed foot, feeds the two layers of fabric through the machine at the same time, preventing the fabric from stretching out as it is sewn, which is why it is ideal for very stretchy knit fabrics.
Can I sew knits without a serger?
Absolutely possible, and even better, you can sew knits with a traditional sewing machine; in fact, sewing stretch fabrics with my BERNINA 350 PE, rather than a serger or overlocker, is my preferred method of construction. There are just a few things to keep in mind when sewing knits with your favorite sewing machine.
Why are my Serged seams wavy?
When the Differential Feed is set at 1, knit fabrics will stretch as they are sewn, resulting in a wavy edge seam. To correct this waviness, adjust the Differential Feed setting toward the 1.5 mark until the seam lays flat and even.
What three types of pins are there?
Sewing Pins That Every Sewist Should Have
- Ball-Point Pins.
- Silk Pins.
- Quilting Pins.
- Plastic Head Pins.
- T- Pins.
- T- Pins.
What to use instead of sewing pins?
When working with vinyl, leather, thick pile, or multiple fabric layers, clips are a great alternative to pins because they don’t pierce holes, snag delicate textiles, or get lost in shaggy fur or lofty fleece.
Can you sew over silk pins?
The REAL Answer: NO, you should NOT sew over pins. The pin was perfectly placed in the fabric and centered perfectly between the needle holes of the selected stitch length. Needle glides effortlessly over the pin without contact.
What size needle do you use to sew satin?
Needles and Threads to Consider
|Satin||Extra Light||60, 65 (8, 9)|
|Petal Signature Cotton™||Light||70, 75 (10, 11)|
|Cotton Poplin||Extra Light||60,65 (8.9)|
|Chiffon||Extra Light||70 (10)|
What is a 70 10 needle used for?
Denim/ Jeans Heavy wovens and denims 70/10 u2013 110/18 These needles have a thick, strong shaft and a very sharp point, making them ideal for stitching denim, canvas, duck, and other heavy, tightly woven fabrics, as well as stitching through multiple fabric layers without breaking.
What are the sharpest sewing needles?
Sharps are the most commonly used hand sewing needles and are also very sharp! If you only buy one type of needle, make it Sharps. Sharps are medium length needles and the most commonly used hand sewing needles.