SCHMETZ Needles, Part 1

Using the right needle in your sewing and quilting is just as important as using the right thread. The two are gorgeously intertwined, so to give you the best information possible, we went straight to the source. Today we’re thrilled to share the first in a two-part guest series by Rhonda Pierce of SCHMETZ Needles.  Thank you, Rhonda!

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You acquired an amazing collection of fabrics for a quilt you have been itching to start.  You selected beautiful Aurifil thread.  Your sewing machine is newly cleaned.  Now… what needle should you use?  SCHMETZ of course!  No other needle can match the quality and variety of needle types and sizes.  Let’s review specific needle types, because even though SCHMETZ manufacturers 17 different needle types for home sewing, my travels and conversations with quilters have taught me that there are really five SCHMETZ needles frequently loved by quilters.

What’s YOUR Favorite Needle?
What’s YOUR Favorite Needle?
  • Topstitch and Metallic:  Needles with an extra-long eye.  This is important to know because there is less friction on the thread as it passes through the eye.  Less friction means less thread breakage or shredding.
  • Microtex:    When precision stitches are a must!  This needle has a very slim acute point that works well with all cottons and especially batiks.  Use the Microtex for applique, piecing and quilting.
  • Quilting:  Just as the name suggests, use this needle for piecing and quilting.  The Quilting needle has a special taper designed for easier fabric penetration and elimination of skipped stitches.
  • Jeans/Denim: Surprised to see this?  Well for all those raggy quilts made from flannel this is a great choice, because the Jeans needle has a reinforced blade to penetrate through heavier fabrics with less needle deflection.
  • Universal:  This work horse needle does it all and very well, but many times one of the above needle types will result in a more precise stitch.  With SCHMETZ, you have options!
The Dynamic Duo! SCHMETZ Microtex 70/10 & Aurifil 50 wt
The Dynamic Duo! SCHMETZ Microtex 70/10 & Aurifil 50 wt

After determining the needle type, decide on the needle size.  My rule of thumb is the 40/80 rule.  When using a 40wt thread use a  80/12 needle.  For a finer thread, use a smaller needle size.  If using a heavier thread, use a 90/14 or larger needle.  Sometimes experimentation is needed because fabrics have different weights and finishes.  My favorite needle for piecing is SCHMETZ Microtex 80/12.  Last year I ran into a situation where the needle pushed the fabric into the throat plate.  How odd!  I was using the Aurifil 50wt Quilting & Embroidery thread.  I tried another Microtex 80/12 and the same thing happened.  I then tried a Microtex 70/10 and … Voilà!  The fabric and machine loved this needle and thread combination… like sewing through butter.  Just changing the needle size made a huge difference in my sewing experience.

Next time you buy Aurifil thread from your favorite quilt shop, remember to pick up a couple packs of SCHMETZ needles.  If you are like me, there is nothing more irritating than being in the sewing groove at 2AM and not having the right needle.

For more information visit  Check out the videos, especially videos 3, 4 and 5 on how to read the needle package, needle selection and clues to change the needle.  While on the site download the SCHMETZ Color Chart for easier needle identification by type and size.  iPhone users can download the free SCHMETZ App.  The Android SCHMETZ App is expected soon.

— Rhonda

To view Part 2 of this series, please click here 
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RP15-125-sendRhonda Pierce has a dream job . . . teaching sewing and quilting enthusiasts about the most important 2” piece of steel in the sewing machine – the SCHMETZ needle.  As  spokesperson for and Marketing Director for Euro-notions, Rhonda enjoys sharing needle knowledge in classrooms and sewing shows throughout North America.  She is delighted with the ingenuity and remarkable creations that sewing enthusiasts share.  Next time you see Rhonda with her SCHMETZ “Super” Needle, it’s 17” tall, tell her which SCHMETZ needle is your favorite.

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  1. Great post…confirmed to me what I am doing. Mainly use Microtex 70/10 with my Aurifil thread 50/2 for FMQ when precision counts. With faster designs like swirls, I use an 80/12 needle as they are more robust. Never had an issue. Also, can highly recommend the Schmetz app…just looked at it the other day. Lots of useful information

  2. My question … What do the ‘letters’ on the top right corner represent.
    I use to know, but now I don’t. And I am Not finding any reference. I looked at the Schmetz needles I have, and I have ‘A’s & ‘E’s”. Help.

    1. Hi Terry! We just heard back from Rhonda with the following response:

      The letter in the upper right corner of the SCHMETZ needle card is an alphabetical code that corresponds to the retail price. The suggested US Retail price for A is $3.29, E is $4.49 to K for $10.99. Thanks for your question Terry! — Rhonda

  3. I have Aurifil 80 wt-can I use this thread for machine stitching and what size SCHMETZ needle can I use?

    1. You can use either Schmetz 70/10 or 80/12 Microtex/Sharp or Embroidery needles. Use 80wt in the bobbin for best results. Have fun!

  4. What needle is best for invisible polyester thread? I have read on other sites to use topstitch needles…I tried a 90/14 and an 80/12 topstitch needles, but found they left holes in my test fabric….what would cause this? I have 50wt thread in the bobbin…please advise

    1. Hi Diane! Thanks so much for checking in! We consulted with our thread expert (Karen Miller of RedBird Quilt Co.) She suggested that you try using a smaller eye needle (topstitch or otherwise). The larger the number the larger the hole, although the hole should disappear after the 1st wash. She also suggested that we highlight some reference material from a post we shared a few years back:

      Needle: Use a 70/10 or 75/11 top stitch needle in your home machine. The fine weight of monofilament works splendidly with a small eyed needle. A top stitch needle allows for the thread to ride in the groove of the shaft for ease of quilting or piecing. On the longarm a 3.0 or 4.0 needle is recommended.

      Bobbin: Use Aurifil 40wt or 50wt cotton thread in the bobbin – no need for monofilament top and bottom – use a cotton bobbin color that complements your backing fabric. If your project requires monofilament in the bobbin, set your speed to SLOW while machine winding a bobbin so the monofilament is not stretched during the process.

      Tension: Lower the top tension significantly to minimize the possibility of stretching the thread while stitching. Some makers choose to set their machine tension to zero – personally a tension setting of 2 works fine on my machine. This is something that you’ll want to adjust to your specific machine and project. Grab a practice sandwich and give it a whirl. You’ll be happy you worked through this step before beginning your project.

      You may view the full post here:

      We hope that this helps! Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance!

      1. Thank you!!! Very interesting info….I do have one question…does Aurifil make a polyester monofilament thread as well as the nylon?

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