Needles. Needles.  Needles.  Like bobbins, no sewing machine is without one.  They too are a mandatory piece of equipment.

There are different types of needles for different types of fabric and for different purposes and size of thread. There are 3 criteria for determining the needle you need to stitch with:

  1. The type of stitching you are doing, such as embroidery vs general sewing.
  2. The type of fabric you are stitching on or with.
  3. The weight or size of the thread you are stitching with.


Let’s take these one at a time.

I.  Stitching: In free standing lace embroidery, the following needles are used:

  1. Embroidery: These needles have a ball point tip. They generally have a larger eye to avoid shredding the special rayon or polyester thread that is used.
  2. Microtex:      These needles have a sharp point with a thinner shaft and are good for stitching denser embroider designs. The sharp point will better penetrate the layers of thread and the tighter stitches.
  3. Metalic:         These needles can have a longer eye or longer groove to help prevent the metallic thread from breaking.
  4. Universal:     When you don’t have an embroidery or microtex needle, a universal needle can be used. It is designed to be a general purpose needle, hence its name.

II.  Fabric: Free standing lace is not sewn on any fabric. However there are 2 kinds of wash away stabilizer that are typically used.

  1. “Plastic” sheets – This kind of dissolvable stabilizer is really not plastic, but it has that kind of feel to it. It is basically a cornstarch and liquid combination that feels like a plastic. Typical brands are Badgemaster and Ultra Solvy.
  2. “Fabric” sheets – This kind of dissolvable stabilizer is really not fabric, but it has that kind of feel to it. It is basically a cornstarch and liquid combination that feels like a fabric. Typical brands are BabyLock and Vilene

III.  Thread: Free standing lace typically uses rayon and polyester threads. Other threads can be used in other creative endeavors with free standing lace.

  1. Thread thickness is usually discussed as “weight” (wt). A thicker thread naturally requires a larger needle eye.
  2. Common weights for thread are 40 or 60. Your typical bobbin thread for general embroidery is 60 wt. However, free standing lace embroidery uses the same thread for the upper and bobbin threads. So here, your bobbin thread weight would typically be 40.
  3. In machine embroidery, the higher (bigger) the weight, the thinner the thread. Yes, this is counter-intuitive.
  4. Do not confuse weight (wt) with the number system (#). They are NOT the same. The number system is Japanese and is called the Gunze Count. More on this in a later article.

IV.  Machine Needle Sizes:

  1. Needle sizes represent the size of the eye. The higher the number, the higher the weight of the thread used, so the eye and your threads are getting smaller.
  2. Needle sizes are usually marked with 2 numbers – the higher European and the lower US. So for an embroidery needle size of 75/10, the 75 is the European size and the 10 is the American size. Occasionally you will see them reversed.
  3. The higher the weight of the thread the higher the needle size.
    1. 40 wt typically uses 70/10or 75/11
    2. 60 wt typically uses 80/12 or 90/14


Some “points” to remember about needles:

  • Free standing lace (FSL) typically uses an embroidery or microtex needle.
  • The bobbin thread usually matches the top thread.
  • Pick the right size needle depending upon the thread weight you are using.
  • The higher/bigger (thinner) the weight of the thread, the higher/bigger (smaller) eye needle size
  • The point of the needle is designed for the fabric. The eye of the needle is designed for the thread.
  • Change your needles every 8-10 hours of stitching.


Online Needle References:

Schmetz Needles:

Superior Threads: