Stretch and Ballpoint Needles

by Leah Taylor on September 18, 2010

“Hi… I want to sew Hot Patterns’ Uptown Downtown Knit Dress and want to buy some new sewing machine needles at the same time, but I’m confused – what is the difference between stretch and ballpoint needles?”

A customer e-mailed me today asking me about the difference between stretch and ballpoint needles, and I thought I’d share the answer.

Ballpoint needles have rounded tips, specially designed to slip in between fabric fibres and to prevent piercing them, which would damage knits. So buy our ballpoint needles if you are sewing with knits.

Stretch needles also have rounded tips, but are specially designed to create good stitches on highly elastic fabrics (I don’t know the science behind it or why/how it works, but the eye is higher up on the shaft and the needles make a larger stitch loop). So buy our stretch needles if you are sewing things like swimwear, or lycra fabrics. They should also be used if you are sewing directly on to fabric.

To answer customer’s question, for the Uptown / Downtown knit dress, a ballpoint needle should be used as she will be using a knit fabric.

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