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What needle should I use for machine applique?

This block was created with invisible machine applique<br /><br />Click on each thumbnail below for a larger image<br /><br />

This block was created with invisible machine applique

Click on each thumbnail below for a larger image

A reader asks...

What type and size of sewing machine needle should I use to do machine applique?

Julie replies...

For machine applique I like to use a Schmetz Microtex Sharp needle.

The size of the needle depends on the thread you are using.

NOTE: If you are sewing on a Singer sewing machine, double-check your manual to see what needle manufacturer to use...if memory serves me correctly, you need to use Singer needles in a Singer machine because of the length of the needle.)

For invisible machine applique, I like to use a 60/8 or 70/10 because I'm using a nylon monofilament as my needle thread. This needle creates a large enough hole for the thread to pass through without friction, but small enough so as not to leave 'holes' in my quilt top.

Thicker thread needs a larger needle...

As your thread increases in thickness, you'll want to use a larger size needle. The larger needle creates a larger hole for the thread to pass through. For most needles, as the needle size increases so does the needle eye.

Topstitching and metallic needles are the exceptions to this rule. They both have a 2mm eye regardless of the size of the needle. Because of this large eye, many use topstitching needles for most of their decorative thread stitching...this would include satin stitching and other decorative stitches that you may use to stitch down your applique pieces.

For instance, for a 40 wt Sulky Rayon thread, I'd use a size 80/12 needle Microtex Sharp, though an 80/12 Topstitching would be as just as good a choice.

Now, if I was using a metallic thread, I would definitely use a metallic needle. This type of needle has a deeper groove down the front of the needle to protect the thread and has a polished eye. Both of these characteristics will 'baby' the 'princess' metallic thread.

If you find that your thread is shredding, switch to the next size larger needle. Shredding is a symptom of using a 'too-small' needle. The hole created by the needle is too small for the thread to pass through without a lot of friction. The thread rubs on the hole and shreds.

These other pages on sewing machine needles may be helpful to you:

One final tip...

...having an assortment of needles on hand is a good thing if you use a lot of different types of thread in your quilts. I stock up on needles whenever I find a good price.

I hope this has helped you with your choice.


Julie Baird

Comments for What needle should I use for machine applique?

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Machine applique with Heat and Bond
by: Anonymous

What if I am sewing through layers of applique that have been secured with Heat and Bond Light. Whatever needle was on my machine made too large of holes.

Any suggestions?

I hand embroider what I can get a needle through, but some areas have too many layers to push the needle through.

Thank you.

From the Editor: Only testing will tell. What I do know, is that I can use a 70/10 needle on my invisible machine applique technique. Those patches include a layer of Rinsaway Stabilizer and are heavily glued, both to hold the patches in their shape and to stabilize the fabric for stitching.

Sew slowly as you are don't want any surprises with a thinner needle like the 70/10.

The other thing to remember for future fusible applique projects is that you can cut away a lot of the fusible from the inner portions of the patches. It really needs to be just around the edges to stick them to the quilt and prevent them from fraying after stitching.

I hope this helps.

~ Julie

applique needle
by: Anonymous

Bless you. I have been crying - trying to get my applique done. For what w\ever reason my thread has been shredding and now I know why.

You have been such a huge help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you


From the Editor: Excellent! You are most welcome. So glad you can get back to quilting.

~ Julie

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