Guide to Sewing Needles

Most beginners are shocked at the variety of sewing needles. There are specialized types for hand embroidery and machine embroidery.

sewing needles

If you want to learn how to sew and do embroidery, you need to learn how to choose the correct needle!

Sewing Tips: Blunt or Sharp?

Sharp needles are used when piercing the fabric as in crewel embroidery. You may also be familiar with sharps from quilting.

On the other hand, some types of embroidery require not piercing the fabric and staying within the grid of the evenweave fabric, needlepoint canvas, or huck loops. These blunt needles are called tapestry needles.

Check out the guidelines for sizes of sewing needles to use with evenweave fabric based on the fabric count.

Needle Eye

Needles can also be described in terms of the eye size.

Quilting needles have a small eye because they are designed to be used with fine thread or microfilament.

Chenille needles have a long eye because they are designed to accommodate specialty fibers. Choose a chenille for crewel embroidery when the thread is thick.

If you're working with yarn, you can use a yarn darner, which will be thick and have a nice big needle eye. They are available sharp or blunt.

Sewing Machine Needles

The type you need will depend on your machine. Check the user manual.

I have a Singer, and they have a handy color code reference on the needle. One color is for knit fabrics, which means the point is blunt. Another color is for regular sewing with a sharp needle. There's another color for sewing on leather which means the needle tip is extra sharp and strong.

There are also special sewing needles available for interesting effects. The double headed needle sews two threads at once. If you use two colors, it makes a striking effect for free motion embroidery, even with using the most basic stitches!

How to Care for Sewing Needles

Most needles contain metals that oxidize and rust over time from the oils in your skin.

Never leave a needle stuck in your work -- if you don't get back to it for awhile, you could have a messy stain! If you must store it with the piece, put it in a place along the edge that will be cut off when it's finished.

Some people like to keep needles sharp by storing them in an emery filled pincushion. That is not the best idea for tapestry needles. I prefer to store them in a recycled mechanical pencil lead case.

You will also find magnetic storage devices, but they can be more of a safety issue around children and pets since they invite play. Always be careful to keep track of your needles and put them all away!

More to Explore

embroidery hoop
fabric count
cross stitch fabric
design your own cross stitch

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