We have a sewing needle size guide that is free for you to download.

It's a true scale size guide, so all needles pictured are at actual size when printed to A4. Making this a fantastic tool for sewing needle selection and identification.

Your guide to sewing needle types also has a needle dimension chart that lists the length and diameter of all sewing needles.

Each sewing needle type also has a brief summary of common use and purpose.

We understand that with even the best information, sometimes finding the right needle can take a little trial and error.

To help a little - please make use of the discount code on page 3 of our sewing needle guide and receive 25%* off your first purchase:

Click Here to Download the Free Sewing Needle Guide



There are in fact 100's of needle variations and specialist sewing needles for every use and discipline.

The variables are:

    • Needle Point
    • Needle Eye
    • Needle Length 
    • Needle Diameter

Using the wrong type of sewing needle is one of the most common mistakes novices and even some experienced sewers still make. It can lead to needle breakage, difficulty working with the chosen fabric and poor stitch quality. Needles can also wear over time which effects the experience in use and quality of the finished work.

You may well find a big difference when you start using a needle designed for the discipline in hand. Many people find an improvement in their skill as a sewer - and more importantly, a greater enjoyment in their needlework because with the correct needle, the project flows more easily.

It's all about having the right needle for the job/material in hand.

At John James needles, we have history dating back to the very start of needle manufacture in the UK and we have a needle for every needlecraft discipline. The name of John James is still recognised by needle crafters around the globe and is renowned for quality and reliability.


Below is some information for you, it covers common needle sizes and use, it contains clickable links which will take you directly to the correct category of our needle shop. Don't forget we also have a needle size guide above that is free for you to download and print.

As a guide always remember as a general rule - the bigger the number the finer the sewing needle. 

If you have any difficulties finding what you are looking for or require some advice please don't hesitate to contact our team as follows: 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  /+44(0)1527 830941



 Download Free Needle Guide here

General Sewing


These needles are the most popular needle for general sewing. 

If you decide to buy only one type of needle, it should be Sharps.

Sharps are medium length needles and the most commonly used hand sewing needles. They are also very sharp!

Size 2, 3 and 4 Suitable for medium to heavy fabrics
Size 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 Suitable for light to medium fabrics
Size 11 and 12 Suitable for fine fabrics or creating small delicate stitches  


- See our Sharps Needles





Short Darners

These needles have long eyes, and are used for mending and darning using cotton or yarn.

- See our Darning Needles


Long Darners 

In addition to being a darning needle these needles are useful to use during basting and layering fabrics together.

- See our Long Darners Needles


Yarn Darners
These are long needles with long eyes making them ideal for spanning large holes during mending, using cotton or yarn. Size 14/18 are useful needles to use when sewing pieces of knitting or crochet together.

- See our Yarn Darners Needles


Curved Repair 
Curved needles are great for those difficult tasks: sewing fabric boxes together or repairing lampshades.

 - See our Curved Repair Needles 


Leather Needles – Hand and Machine 

These needles are available for hand stitching and machine stitching and are ideal when working with leather, suede and other tough materials.

- See our Needles for Leather




Traditional Craft

Depending on the type of craft or project you are working on will determine the type of needle you will require. Sometimes you may need to use the same needle type across a variety of sizes to complete your project or indeed you may require an array of different types of needle.


Tapestry/Cross Stitch 

These needles have a large eye and a blunt round point designed for the use in needlepoint, petit point, countered cross stitch and plastic canvas work.

Size 13, 14 Suitable for children to use when stitching on Binca or 6hpi Aida fabric  
Size 16, 18, and 20 Suitable for tapestry
Size 22, 24, 26 and 28 Commonly used in cross stitch and petit point


- See our Tapestry/Cross Stitch Needles



Embroidery needles have a long eye which makes threading the needle so much easier when using multiple strands of thread.  The most popular sizes used to embroider are size 7 and 9.

Because of their large eye these needles are suitable for general sewing. They are ideal for people who have difficulty seeing the eye of a needle.

- See our Embroidery / Crewel Needles



These needles have a large eye and a sharp point and are used in the art of crewel embroidery and ribbon embroidery. Sizes range from 13 to 26; the most popular sizes are 16 to 26. Size 13 and 14 are commonly used for heavy and coarse fabrics.

- See our Chenille Needles



These needles are very short and fine with a round eye. The shorter length allows the quilter to create quick and even stitching. Sizes range from 5 to 12, we recommend a beginner to use a size 7 or a size 8. Big Eye Quilting needles are designed with a big eye for the ease of threading. These needles are available in size 10.

- See our Quilting Needles



Standard Beading needles are very fine and long, with long eyes and are available in sizes 10 to 15. These needles are suitable to use with beads, pearls and sequins and they are particularly useful in the art of threading and stringing pearls. Short Beading needles are ideal when attaching beads to fabric featuring additional embroidery.

- See our Beading Needles



These needles are long with round eyes and are traditionally used in the art of hat making. They are also used for pleating and creating fancy stitching commonly known as smocking.

- See our Milliners / Straw Needles





Machine needle sizes are always quoted in imperial and metric.  Regular point machine needles are designed for domestic regular sewing machines and are used for basic stitching.


Size 9/70 Suitable for light fabrics, silk and taffeta  
Size 11/80 Suitable for medium fabrics, cotton, linen and satin
Size 14/90  Suitable for medium to heavy fabrics, this is an ideal in between needle
Size 16/100 Suitable for heavy fabrics, denim, tweeds, curtain fabrics and soft furnishings


These machine needles are ideal to use on jersey, stretch and synthetic fabrics

- See our Ball Point Machine Needles


These needles create trouble free seaming and are the perfect complement to jersey and synthetic fabrics.

- See our Superstitch Machine Needles


These needles are designed for heavy duty stitching and are suitable for denim fabrics.

- See our Machine Needles for Jeans


Twin Pointed
This needle forms parallel stitches. 

Size 11 x 2mm Suitable for fine to medium fabrics.
Size 14 x 4mm  Suitable for medium to heavy fabrics


    - See our Twin Pointed Machine Needles




Threaders & Bodkins

Needle Threaders 
Use the standard needle threader for threading cotton/thread and the chunky threader when using chunky yarn.

Bodkins and Weaving needles are great for threading tapes and elastics.

 - See our Threaders & Bodkins




Free Printable Needles Guide

The Needle Guide lists Length and Diameter of all needles and all items illustrated are actual size. 

See How Needles are Made






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