Hand-sewing needles can be purchased in packages with all one size or in a variety of sizes. Needles are numbered 1 through 12 and categorized as sharps or betweens. Sharps are all-purpose needles used for appliqué and piecing. Betweens are used for quilting. The higher the number, the finer and shorter the needle. The recommended size range for quiltmaking is 7-12.
Many types of sewing-machine needles are available today. The size of the needle used is determined by the fabrics, threads and type of stitch being used. Your sewing machine manual will offer suggestions.
Generally, a size #80/12 needle is used for everyday sewing. A #90/14 is used for heavier fabrics and threads. Remember, when you are machine-quilting layers a larger needle (at least #90/14) will be required. Special machine-quilting needles may be purchased as well.