Needles

I spotted an interesting question being asked on Facebook yesterday which made me think for several reasons.

Do you have a favorite needle and if so why?

Well my inner pedantic stitcher was ever so irritated, surely you should only ever use the needle which is appropriate for the job at hand? Which raised another question, do hobbyists know how needles differ and why you should choose one over the other?

The job of a needle is to guide your thread from one side of your fabric to the other. By choosing a needle that is too small for the thread being used that thread will be damaged. You can tell your needle isn’t big enough if you need to really ‘tug’ the needle through to the other side, this is the thread catching the fabric as the eye meets fabric. By choosing a needle that is too big you may end up with little ‘holes’ in your fabric which will detract from your embroidery. Always choose the smallest needle that you can for the job you are doing.

So here is a little guide to the needles I most commonly use.

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Tapestry Needles

These needles have a rounded point and a good sized eye. These should be used with open weave fabrics and are often known as cross stitch needles. The open fabric has a defined warp & weft which the rounded point of the needle easily slips through. A sharp needle could catch and snag the base fabric which would prevent a clean stitch being achieved. This is very import if stitching counted work as these techniques depend on all of the stitches looking an even size.

These needles come in lots of different sizes, I stick with 24’s & 26’s.

Sharp Needles

These needles have a sharp point as the name suggests, they also have fine eyes. These needle are great for fine work and I personally use this type the most often. The sharp needle is best used on closely woven fabric. It is great for goldwork and silk shading.

These needles come in lots of different sizes, I stick to 10’s & 12’s.

Embroidery Needles

These needles are the most commonly picked up needles. Whenever I have an intro to embroidery class I start people off with a 7. Embroidery needles have a sharp point and a more generous eye than a sharp. These are usually used on closely woven fabric.

These needles come in lots of different sizes, I stick to 7’s

Chenille Needles

 These are chunky needles with a sharp point. Traditionally chenille needles would be used on heavy fabric like linen twill. The sharp point pierces the fabric easily but the more rotund body of the needle creates an easier path for the chosen thread to pass through. Often this chosen thread would be crewel wool which is easily worn which is why an easier path is needed.

These needles come in lots of different sizes, I stick to 20’s & 22’s

There are lots of other types too, these are just the ones I commonly use in my kits, I use different styles as needed. Curved needles are ever so useful & my bracing needle is essential when I’m framing up fabric before stitching!

Lastly remember to discard old needles, hanging onto them is false economy! Needles tarnish easily, I can tarnish several a day and as I do I pop them in a little tin marked sharps. A tarnished needle will wear the fabric unnecessarily, they can also mark your fabric. Why would you choose to spend hours on a special project but scrimp on the basic tools?  I hope this helps when your sitting down to start your next project. I will get around to writing up what is in my tool tin next!

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