The information presented here is a guideline only. Fabrics, backing brands, needle brands, thread type and size vary from company to company. This guideline is meant to give the novice user a general guide. Sharp or ball point needles are used for most embroidery. Many other types are available for special use, leather points, Teflon™ coated, and titanium to name a few. Whatever brand, type or size you are using, the thread should easily pass through the eye of the needle. The needle creates a hole for the thread to pass through, sharp points cut a hole, ball points separate the fibers to create a hole without cutting the fibers. What you are sewing plays a big part in the needle size you select. Usually heavier fabrics require larger needles to prevent needle breakage and punch a big enough hole for the thread to pass through. Commonly cutaway and tearaway backings are used. Backings come in a variety of weights and stability. Cutaway is normally used for knit fabrics and tearaway for woven fabrics. The key to selecting the correct backing is remembering why backing is used: to stabilize the fabric so the machine can form a stitch. The less stable the fabric the more the need for backing. Experiment with different combinations. You might also try laundering your experiments. Different designs can also affect the need for changes in needles and backings.

We hope the following information is useful to you.

Fabric Needle Size Backing Topping Tips
Lt Weight Denim 70-75 Sharp Tearaway None Hoop Tight
Med. Denim 75-80 Sharp Tearaway/None None Hoop Tight
Heavy Denim 80 Sharp Tearaway/None None Hoop Tight
Oxford Shirting 70-75 Sharp Med. Tearaway None
Dress Cotton Shirting 70 Sharp Med. Tearaway

Light Cutaway

Pique Knit 70-75 Ball Lt./Med.Cutaway or Polymesh and Tearaway* Yes Hoop smooth, don't distort knit.
Cotton Interlock 70-75 Ball Lt./Med.Cutaway or Polymesh and Tearaway* Detail -Yes Hoop smooth, don't distort knit.
Sweatshirts 75-80 Ball Med. Cutaway Detail -Yes High stitch density or running on tubular frames may require more or heavier backing.
Lt. Weight TShirts 70-75 Ball Med. Cutaway or High Density Tearaway or Polymesh and Tearaway* Detail-Yes Light TShirts may not hold some embroidery well, problems may not show until laundered.
Caps, Woven 75-80 Sharp Med. to Heavy Tearaway None Caps with fused buchram may not need any backing. Backing should completely cover the sewing area and be hooped with the cap.
Caps. Corduroy 75-80 Sharp Same Detail-Yes Same. Extra underlay may eliminate the need for topping.
Canvas 75-80 Sharp, maybe 90, depending on weight of canvas. Tearaway or None None Hoop tight.
Cordura/Coated Fabrics Same, maybe teflon or titanium coated. Tearaway or None None Watch for build up of the coating on needles.
Terry Cloth 70-75 Sharp Med. Tearaway Yes Extra Underlay

*Many left chest designs can be sewn very successfully on knits using a combination of our Polymesh and a Medium to Light Tearaway. Hoop 1 piece of each with the knit garment, have the Polymesh next to the garment and the tearaway as the outside layer. Polymesh is very successful when embroidering on light colors or white that are sheer enough for a standard cutaway to be visible. Once you are finished embroidering the garment pull off the tearaway and trim around the Polymesh.

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