Nothing we sell confuses our customers, and sometimes us, more than sewing machine needles.
There is no such thing as a standard needle (except for home sewing machines, which mostly use the same type of needle). Many industrial machines do use this needle or that needle in common, but there are many different SYSTEMS of needles for various types of machines, and then each system is available in different SIZES. Sometimes there are other variations, too, like point styles (round or sharp, ball point, cutting point, etc.) or the type of metal or finish on the needle for strength or friction reduction.
But the main thing you’ve got to know to find a needle for your machine is first, the SYSTEM. The system indicates the specs for length, the ratio of the size of the shank (the part that goes up into the needle bar) to the shaft (the part that penetrates the fabric), and so forth. It is usually expressed like a multiplication problem, for example 135X17, but because different needle companies have named the same needles different things over the years, you will see several aliases listed on each box. These numbers, by the way, are not measurements; they’re just random, as far as anybody but needle makers know.
Then, somewhere else on the box, you’ll see a size listed. The size is how thick the shaft is. But again there have been several ways of expressing size over the years, so you’ll often see this expressed as, say, 130/21. In this case 130 is the metric sizing and 21 is the Singer sizing.
For our inventory, we use the old Singer way of showing system and size, so the needle used in this example would be 135X17-21. That’s the system, followed by the size. We then also put a letter in front of the system to designate the brand: W is for Groz-Beckert; X is for Orange; Y is for Organ; and Z is for Schmetz. So that needle in Groz-Beckert brand is W135X17-21.
You don’t have to memorize all that, but that might take some of the mystery away. Then use the following links to find the needle you need. (It’s best to stay with the brand needle you’re already using if that brand is working well for you, but technically the specs will be the same from brand to brand for the same systems and sizes.) And if you can’t find what you need, or have any questions at all, give us a shout.