What are the best needles for quilting?
Years ago I started using topstitch needles for free motion quilting and it made a huge difference in my quilting. One of the major frustration when free motion quilting is thread breaking. You will LOVE or HATE free motion quilting – it depends on how often your thread breaks.
I hated it many times, but as long as we stitch – we try and learn new things and in the end we make the things easier.
So for years I was extremely happy with the topstitch needles. Then I started trying new things and new challenges appeared. In a few occasions, the topstitch needle wasn’t of much help for me and out of necessity (and desperately) I tried a needle that is always in my drawer : the Jeans (denim) needle.
I use the Schmetz brand (it’s easily available here), and I am very happy with their quality.
|From left to right:
Jeans Needle #100/16, Jeans Needle #110/18, Topstitch Needle #100/16
See the difference between the needles: they have different eye and different point.
While the large eye of the topstitch needle is very important, I found out that the point of the needle is important as well.
The size of the needle is important!
One more difference between the two needle types- the Jeans needle is available in the 110/18 size (sometimes you need the biggest needle), while the largest topstitch needle is 100/16.
Let’s see a few successful stories with the Jeans needles!
I finished my “Geometric Gradation” quilt. It is a simple patchwork quilt. I thought it will be easy to quilt it.
See below how it is quilted. I started from the top left corner and quilted half of the block, toward the opposite corner. Then I came back on the diagonal line to the starting point and I quilted the other half. With the topstitch needle, most of the times the thread broke when I stitched back diagonally. I switched to the jeans needle (and I did not make any other change) – the thread broke 2 or 3 times and I quilted about 100 blocks this way. I was happy!!
Fusible raw edge applique – skipped stitches with the 100/16 topstitch needle. I changed only the needle- no other change- perfect stitches!
The same on another fusible web applique quilt.
I used the Jeans Needles for the first time on this wholecloth quilt. It was quilted with the very thick Aurifil 12wt thread- a real challenge. The Jeans needle saved my sanity!
Of course, the thread you use is very important as well. Find the one that works for you. It’s a team: needle+thread. For me the Aurifil thread does a great job!
Stock up a few Jeans Needles! You will LOVE them!! Don’t forget about the biggest size!!
PS. Forgot to write: use these needles when stitching bags!
Ольга Вовченко says
Удивительно! А что Вы думаете о специальных иглах для квилтинга? Пользуетесь ли Вы ими?
Oh thanks so much Geta. As always your advice is so practical. Of course, I have just purchase a fresh package of topstitch needles but now I have an excuse to go back to the store:)
Your blog is such a bright spot.
I used quilting needles for some time. I found nothing special about them.
Ольга Вовченко says
Спасибо! Я обязательно попробую иглы для джинсы в стежке!
How kind to share this very helpful needle tip that will save some frustration. Sometimes we forget how important the the little things like proper needle and thread can make a big difference. Great examples with your photos. Thanks!
I will keep this in mind next time I have problems.
Nana (who loves the topstitch 80)
Gina S. says
Thanks for the tips! I have to start quilting a quilt this weekend and i'm going to try this. Hope it saves me from some anxiety attacks!
Thank you much Greta for this advice, I will try it as I, as well, have some breaks or stitches skipped… and thank you for sharing your works !!
Daryl @ Patchouli Moon Studio says
Geta as a quilter and a bag maker, I found the 16 needle to work the best for both. Yes I too had thread breaking on me when quilting so much that I knew it had to be the thread or the needle or both, so that's when experimenting came for me. I find "quilting" needles to only be good for piecing the patchwork pieces and not for the actual quilting itself. I think they need to rename those needles to patchwork piecing needles because calling them quilting is confusing.
Thanks so much, I will be trying my jeans needles out next time I am machine quilting!!! Fabulous!!! :^)
Suzie Sews says
Does Aurifil thread only come in ine size? If not, what size do you use with your jeans needles? Thank you.
Thanks for this helpful tip! Have you found that this needle works well with monofilament thread? That thread gives me headaches and frustration!
The topstitch needle is great for monofilament thread. I have to test the Jeans needle with this thread.
When you use 12 weight aurifil, what weight is in your bobbin? I love the 12 weight too, but I am very inexperienced with it. Thanks so much.
Kathleen Ross says
Have you ever used a jeans needle with monopoly thread? I am having an awful time I keep getting bird nest in bobbin. I am using a top stitch needle Size 11 as recommended by thread manufacturer. I was sewing fine for about a quarter of my quilt and then I got the birds nest. I have tried many adjustments and finally gave up. Any suggestions?
Check if your machine is threaded correctly. Check both the top thread and bobbin thread.
Hmm, I think I have at least one of those jeans needles in my packet that came with the machine 20 years ago! I will have to search it out and try that. Thank you!
Geta, I clicked to see what needle you used and I see it’s the jeans needle, one I’ve also used for stitching bags. Thanks for all your great tips.
Geta Grama says
June, just accidentally I discovered what difference these needles make- because I sew bags!
Ida M Bourne says
Thank you so much for sharing this information. You are amazing and I love your input. I have been quilting for 11 months and have been very frustrated with breaking threads. Of course I have been in a learning mode and top stitching on my sewing/embroidery machine. So, space is an issue as well. I just purchased a sit down HQ Sweet Sixteen and plan to set up today. Are there differences in needle size for these machines?
Ina Kunz says
thank you for sharing all these tips!! i would be lost without them. Looking forward to all your tips and letters.
Judie DeSeranno says
I love all the things you share. You are an awesome quilter. I really enjoy the things you come up with. I would like the ornament patterns. Merry Christmas to you.