I'm not sure why this always confuses me, but it does, so I'll ask and promise to write it down and put it in my binder.
I'm always confused as to what sewing machine needle sizes to use for particular things. I tend to always buy the Schmetz brand because they are available at my local JoAnn store. I also tend to by the "Universal" needles. Here is what I am wondering:
1) What size needle do you use for regular machine piecing on cotton fabrics?
2) Is there a different kind of needle to use if you are sewing with batik fabrics?
3) If I am machine quilting (free motion or stitch in the ditch) is there a certain size/type of needle to use?
4) Machine applique (like invisible machine applique) -what kind of needle do I use?
Thanks everyone for your help!
For piecing I use size 70/10 or 80/12 Sharps or Quilting - whichever I can find. For SID or my poor attempts at FMQ I use 90/14 Sharps or Quilting. Someone with more experience will have to answer about the applique and batiks. I love batiks too much to cut them up :lol:
I don't buy universal needles any more because I find that they are not sharp enough for most of my quilting needs. So here are my favorite needle sizes and types for the uses you mention; regular piecing size 12 microtex (sharps) these are great for batiks too, quilting size 11 or 14 quilting needles, applique size 11 embroidery needles. I always change the needle for quilting and for applique and usually for batiks, but sometimes i use the quilting or embroidery needles for piecing if they are already on the machine.
I have Janome machines and only use Janome needles size 11 or 14 for most everything. Piecing, FMQ, quilting etc. However theree are special needles for metallic thread and other types of sewing.
Above are a few good sites with information. I can't give you tooo much info except that the larger the number the thicker the fabrics the needle can easily sew through. Size 11 or so would be for 2 layers of cotton - size 14 would be for jeans or thick layers of fabrics. (I recently had to UP the size of my needle when sewing through several layers of polyester that had a lining in it. I took my time, lengthened the stitch to 3.0 and it worked perfectly :) )
I tried using the Microtex needle for fine metallic fabrics and it worked fine throughout my projects.
I also think it's trial and error till we get experienced enough to know better. Print off some info and take notes...before you know it - you'll know it!
Superior Threads has some great information about threads and needles. The type of thread you are using also plays into which type of needle to use and not just for metallic threads. Try to get the 30 weight quilting thread through a 14 needle and it just doesn't work. I can't get the King Tut through a 16! I also had fewer problems when I was teaching myself to free motion quilt with an 18 titanium.
For piecing with all purpose thread, I use an 11 or 12.