Needles - Overview

The purpose of this article is to provide troubleshooting details covering identification, usage and selection of needles.  Additional information is available within Basic Needle Troubleshooting

Video Topics:

Here is additional Groz-Beckert needle manufacturer information.

Here is additional information found in the Operator's Manual documenting Basic Needle Troubleshooting and Needle Replacement.

Here is the Needle Orientation Magnet PN#34274 available on

Embroidery quality can be greatly affected by your choice of needles. You will need to find what works best with your applications. The following information should help.

Melco embroidery machines utilize DBxK5 needles. Among other things, this means that they are industrial needles with nearly 25% larger eyes.

It is recommended that you change chrome needles every 4-8 sewing hours. Titanium needles can last 5-10 times that long. The life of a needle depends on the fabric and sew conditions.

Needle Sizes

Needles come in a variety of sizes, and most are marked with two numbers. For example, you will find 75/11 needles. The first number is metric and is the diameter of the needle blade. It is measured in hundredths of a millimeter. A 75/11 needle has a blade that is 0.75mm in diameter.

Most sewing conditions will utilize needle sizes ranging from 65/9 to 85/13 needles.

Smaller needles work well for finer materials, thinner threads, and delicate detail work.

Larger needles work well for tougher and more abrasive materials. As the holes made by the needle are larger, sewing creates less friction on the threads and helps prevent thread breaks. Below are general guidelines, finding the best needle for your application would require testing.



Example Fabric


Used for the thinnest threads and finest detail work.

Georgette, Organza, georgette, organza, tulle, Very lightweight silks and satins


Smallest of the more common needles. Used for fine fabrics, 60-weight thread, and delicate design details and tiny lettering.



Used for fine fabrics, design details and small letters. Good needle size for a larger majority of embroidery work.

Crêpe de chine, Taffeta, Cotton lawn, Lightweight silks and satins, Peachskin, Lightweight stretch and jersey


Standard needle size and good for the majority of embroidery applications.

Poly cotton, Cotton poplin, Chambray, Lighter weight linens, Most light or medium weight jerseys.



Largest of the more common needles. Often used for caps with buckram backing or cotton duct jackets to help alleviate thread breaks.

Structured Hats


Used with some specialty and metallic threads.

Medium weight cottons, Linens, Light to medium weight denim, Medium weight coating, Suiting and drill, Medium weight jerseys. Light to medium weight leather, Suede, PVC leather


Used with the thicker 12-weight threads like the wool-acrylic blends.

Heavy weight coating, Heavy weight denim, Canvas, Outdoor fabric, Heavy weight leather, Suede, PVC leather, Webbing


Needle Coatings

Needles are offered with a few different coatings.

Standard chrome needles are silver in color and offer a sewing life of approximately 4 to 6 solid sewing hours.


Titanium needles are gold in color and offer an extended sewing life of 2 to 3 times the life of a standard needle. While they are stronger needles, they have little flex. If deflected, they will often break instead of bend. Titanium needles are usually marked with a "PD" on the packaging.

Other needle coatings exist to cut down on the heat built up when traveling through synthetic materials.


Anatomy of a Needle

Here is a YouTube video on Anatomy of a Needle.

It helps to understand the anatomy and different parts of the needle, along with the purpose of each.

Shank: The thick, upper portion of the needle that is clamped into the machine. Needles for most commercial embroidery machines are round, while for semi-professional machines, one side will be flat. The round shank is more economical to manufacture, which can have a positive effect for commercial embroiderers, where bottom line pricing is often a must.

Shaft: This begins at the base of the shank and extends the length of the needle to the point. It is the diameter of the shaft that determines the size of the needle.

Eye: At the base of the shaft, this is the hole which the embroidery thread goes through. The size of the eye will vary with the type and size of the needle.

Channel/Groove:  This indentation, at the front of the needle, is the channel through which the thread passes down to the eye. It helps to guide and protect the thread.

Scarf:  Located at the back of the needle, just above the eye, its purpose is to allow the rotary hook to come near enough to the eye of the needle to catch the thread and create a stitch.

Point: The first part of the needle to come into contact with the fabric; it penetrates the substrate, moving the thread towards the bobbin, in order to form a stitch.


Needle Markings

Needle points come in a variety of options. The main two are sharp and ball point needles.

Sharp point needles are generally better at cutting through materials and are usually used on tightly woven or non-woven.

Ball point needles are most often used on knit materials. They tend to move the threads of the material to the side of the needle as they sew. Ball point needles are usually marked with a "BP" on the package.mceclip2.png

Because the needles you order for your embroidery machine were most likely manufactured in Germany or Japan, the markings or labels may not be clear in their meaning. Common marking from major needle manufacturers will help you quickly and easily identify the type of needle you require:

Ballpoint needles are designated: BP, FFG, SES, SUK, FG

Sharp point needles are designated: SP, RG. However, the lack of any code will often indicate that the needle is a sharp point.

Needles with a titanium coating for extra strength: PD, SAN 1, TN

Needles manufactured to keep residue from adhering: NIT, LP, CS

Needles with shortened shanks used for 3D foam or very thick fabrics will be labeled: KK

Large eye needles will accommodate a wide range of thread sizes without needing to increase the size of the needle, and keep the hole you make in the fabric as small as possible. With a larger “target,” it also allows for easier needle threading.



Groz-Beckert Needle Points




You can find more 3rd party information on and for Short Shank (KK) Needles.


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