The Best Sewing Needles For Quilting Projects

Finding the best sewing needles for quilting projects is crucial for quality results, but with so many options it can get confusing.

best sewing needles for quilting

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the different types of hand and machine needles that work exceptionally well for piecing, applique, binding, and quilting.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first set of supplies or an experienced quilter needing a refresher, read on to discover the quilting needles that will help you achieve smooth, even stitches on your next project.

Hand Sewing Needles for Quilting

Delicate hand work like binding and intricate quilting often requires specialized needles. Consider the following types of hand quilting needles for your quilting toolbox:

Binding Needles

Clover Black Gold needles in Size 9 are ideal for adding hand binding to your quilts. The super thin profile allows the needle to smoothly pass through the layers of the quilt and binding without creating large holes. Primitive Gatherings and John James also make excellent binding needles. Look for sizes 9 to 12 for binding.

Quilting Needles

When hand quilting, select a needle with a larger eye and longer shaft to accommodate the quilting thread. The larger needles are easier to maneuver through the quilt layers. A size 7 or 8 quilting needle works well. John James and Clover offer a nice selection of hand quilting needle options.

Straw or Between Needles

Straw or between needles have a very narrow diameter and sharp tip perfect for precision hand binding. Try the Clover Gold Between needle.

Needle Sizes

With hand sewing needles, the higher the number, the shorter and finer the needle. Start with a larger needle size for learning. Move down in size as your hand quilting skills progress.

Threading Tips

Aurifil 50wt cotton thread is an excellent lightweight option for hand binding and quilting. The reduced friction makes it easier to thread the tiny needle eyes. Consider a needle threader to further assist the process.


Sort your hand quilting needles by type and size. Make a dedicated pincushion just for binding needles, quilting needles, etc. Store them along with thread, thimble and scissors in a special hand quilting kit.

📹 Video suggestion: Demonstrating how to thread different types of hand quilting needles

Sewing Machine Needles for Quilting

Selecting the right sewing machine needle for piecing, quilting, and binding makes all the difference. Here are the top options:

Universal Needles

Universal needles like Schmetz have a slightly rounded tip suitable for general piecing of cotton fabrics. Stock a range of sizes for different weights.

Quilting Needles

Quilting needles are made specifically for sewing through multiple layers. The tapered shaft allows it to pass smoothly through the quilt sandwich. Schmetz and Organ make high-quality machine quilting needles.

Sharp Needles

Sharp needles like microtex have an acute tip to produce neat, clean stitching on tightly woven batiks and microfibers. Superior Threads and Schmetz offer excellent sharp sewing machine needles.

Topstitch Needles

Chose a topstitch needle when using thick decorative threads for quilting. The large eye and deep groove prevent breakage. Superior Threads makes durable titanium topstitch needles.

Denim Needles

Denim needles and jeans needles have an ultra sharp point to pierce through tough, tightly woven fabrics like denim, canvas, or upholstery-weight material. Schmetz, Organ, and Superior Threads offer denim needles.

Specialty Needles

Stretch, leather, and metallic needles accommodate unique materials for specialty quilting projects. Refer to your machine manual.

Needle Sizes

Match the sewing machine needle size to the weight and texture of the fabric:

  • Lightweight – 70/10 or 80/12
  • Medium – 80/12 or 90/14
  • Heavy – 90/14 or 100/16

Needle Replacement

Change the machine quilting needle at the first sign of skipped stitches, fraying, or holes. Replace at least every 8-10 hours of sewing.

📹 Video suggestion: How to change a sewing machine needle


Store machine needles organized by type/size in clearly labeled boxes or tubes. Keep a variety handy by the sewing machine.


Quality matters when it comes to sewing machine needles! Stick with trusted brands like Schmetz, Organ, Superior Threads, John James or Titanium needles.

Cross Stitch and Embroidery Needles

Add dimension and texture to your quilts with cross stitch and embroidery. Use these specialized needles:

Tapestry/Cross Stitch Needles

Tapestry or cross stitch needles have a blunt tip designed specifically to slip smoothly between the threads of the fabric rather than piercing it. Sizes range from 18 to 28. Choose based on your fabric count.

Embroidery Needles

Embroidery needles have a small ball tip that prevents damage when stitching on already embroidered projects. Use an appropriate size embroidery needle with rayon or metallic threads.


Sort embroidery and cross stitch needles by size and type. Consider a special cushion or needle minder to keep them organized.


John James, Tulip, Clover and Bohin all make excellent embroidery and cross stitch needles for quilting.

📹 Video suggestion: How to choose cross stitch needle sizes

Quilting Needle Brand Overview

With so many brands available, here is a closer look at some of the top options for quilting needles:


  • One of the most popular brands
  • Huge range of universal, quilting, sharp, denim and specialty needles
  • High quality surgical steel construction
  • Precision tip shapes for different fabrics
  • Color coding system identifies needle types

John James

  • Premier English needle brand since 1840
  • Top choices include hand quilting, hand embroidery, and machine needles
  • Sizes to suit every quilting need
  • Durable nickel-plated construction
  • Economical sets for binding, piecing, quilting

Superior Threads

  • Known for top-of-the-line titanium machine needles
  • Specialty topstitch and metallic needles prevent thread breaks
  • Innovative needle coating reduces friction
  • Suitable for heavy duty projects
  • Longer 60 day guarantee


  • German engineered titanium and standard machine needles
  • Reduced needle deflection prevents skipped stitches
  • Sharp points for smooth fabric piercing
  • Sizes for light to heavy projects
  • Economical sets available


  • Japanese brand with impressive range
  • Specializes in hand sewing and hand quilting needles
  • Excellent straw, betweens, and hand quilting needles
  • Precision hand needle sets
  • Quality embroidery needles

Try a variety of brands to find your favorites for different quilting techniques. Look for bulk quantity sets to save on costs. Investing in quality needles makes a significant difference in your finished quilts.

📹 Video suggestion: Comparing different quilting needle brands

Pros and Cons of Common Quilting Needles

To help decide which needles are best for your projects, let’s examine the benefits and drawbacks of popular options:

Universal Machine Needles


  • Versatile for all-purpose sewing
  • Economical price
  • Range of sizes for fabric weights


  • Not ideal for high thread count fabrics
  • Can damage delicate fabrics
  • Holes may become enlarged

Microtex/Sharp Needles


  • Precise stitches on tightly woven fabrics
  • Minimal fabric damage
  • Variety of thin sizes


  • Not for heavy fabrics
  • Fragile tip
  • Requires frequent replacement

Denim/Jeans Needles


  • Penetrates tightly woven dense fabrics
  • Durable against deflecting
  • Extra strong to pierce layers


  • Can split delicate threads
  • Makes large holes in fabric
  • Thick for detailed work

Quilting Needles


  • Designed for multi-layer sewing
  • Tapered point prevents damage
  • Stitches evenly without flagging


  • Only for quilting projects
  • Moderate needle sizes
  • Cost more than universal

Topstitch Needles


  • Larger eye accommodates thick threads
  • Deep groove prevents thread breaks
  • Creates visible decorative stitches


  • Only suitable for topstitching
  • Large holes in fabric
  • Prone to thread shredding

There are advantages and disadvantages to each specialty needle, so make sure you select the right option for your fabric type, thread thickness, and quilting technique. Testing different needle types with fabric swatches will help determine your favorites.

Important Considerations When Selecting Quilting Needles

Follow this guidance when shopping for hand and machine quilting needles:

  • Match needle size to fabric weight/texture – Heavier fabrics require larger, sturdier needles while delicate fabrics need fine dainty needles. Consult size charts.
  • Consider thread thickness – Needles with larger eyes accommodate thicker threads. Metallic threads require extra large eyes.
  • Replace needles frequently – Dull needles create problems. Replace hand needles after ~8 hours of quilting.
  • Select by project type – Choose needles specifically designed for your technique – binding, piecing, applique, quilting, embroidery, etc.
  • Buy quality brands – Invest in needles from trusted manufacturers for smooth sewing.
  • Refer to machine manual – Check for specific recommendations based on your make and model.
  • Store properly – Keep various sizes/types organized in labeled cases or books.

Choosing the best needles for your quilting project will ensure quality results and prevent headaches! Test different brands and needle types with your machine and fabrics to determine your favorites.

Frequently Asked Questions About Quilting Needles

What size sewing machine needle is best for quilting?

For quilting, a size 80/12 or 90/14 works well. The 90/14 is good for thicker fabrics or when sewing through multiple layers. Always match needle size to fabric thickness.

Do universal needles work for quilting?

Universal needles can be used for general piecing of quilting cottons, but a specialized quilting needle is better for sewing through a quilt sandwich with batting. Sharper points reduce flagging.

How often should you change a sewing machine quilting needle?

Needles naturally dull with use. For quality stitching, change the quilting needle every 8-10 hours of machine sewing or after finishing 2-3 projects. Replace immediately if you see skipped stitches or damage.

What thread is best for hand quilting needles?

Choose a lightweight thread like Aurifil 50wt to easily pass through the small eye of hand quilting needles. Heavy threads create friction and resistance. Waxing the thread can help it glide smoothly.

When should I use a topstitch needle for quilting?

Topstitching needles work well when adding decorative accents with heavier threads, like using 30wt embroidery thread for big decorative stitches. The large eye prevents shredding.

Can I use the same needle for piecing and quilting?

It’s best to use a universal needle for piecing and switch to a machine quilting needle when assembling the full quilt sandwich. The quilting needle’s sharp tapered tip handles the layers well.

How can I get needles through dense fabrics when quilting?

Change to denim/jeans needles when working with tightly woven batiks, canvas, denim or leather. The dense fabrics require an extremely sharp point to pierce through without deflecting the needle. Go slow!

Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Sewing Needles for Quilting

We hope this guide provides valuable insights into selecting the ideal needles for your quilting projects! Remember to choose needle types based on fabrics, threads, stitching technique and frequency of use. Investing in quality hand quilting needles and machine needles from trusted brands will give you smooth, frustration-free sewing.

Don’t be afraid to test out different options to determine your favorites. With the right needles, you’ll look forward to more enjoyable quilting! Let us know if you have any other questions – we’re always happy to offer needle advice to fellow quilters. Happy stitching!

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