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How-To Guides: What’s the Point? A Guide to Hand-sewing Needles
What’s the Point? A Guide to Hand-sewing Needles



Confused by which needle to choose for your latest hand-sewn project? Here are some sew-lutions to help you out.

Needles for hand sewing, quilting and embroidery will vary in thickness, point length and shape, and the size of the eye.

Hand-sewing Needles

To achieve best results, it is a good idea to choose a needle size that will glide through your fabric without stretching it, but is strong enough not to bend or break. Packaged needles will usually be labelled by size and type – e.g. ‘Chenille – Size 5’. Typically, the length and thickness of the needle will increase as the size number gets smaller – so a size 1 needle will be longer and thicker, whereas a size 12 would be thinner and shorter.


Here is a quick chart to assist in choosing the correct needle for the job…


A long and heavy straight or curved needle Used for sewing thick upholstery fabrics; also great for tying quilts. Curved needles are used when a straight needle is awkward.
Tapestry A large eye with a blunt tip Used for embroidery on loosely woven fabrics. These needles will have a large eye, and its blunt tip will glide through fabric without damaging it
Sharps A medium length with a round eye and sharp point An ordinary sewing needle for miscellaneous projects
Milliners Similar to ordinary sharps needles, but longer Designed particularly for millinery use, but also good for tacking, pleating and decorative stitches
Leather or Glovers A triangular point Used for sewing suede, vinyl, leather or plastics. The triangular tip passes through tough materials without tearing them.
Embroidery The same as an ordinary sharps needle, but with an elongated eye Used for hand embroidery. The longer eye is great for multiple strands of embroidery thread or floss
Easy-Thread An ordinary sharps needle with a slotted top rather than a standard eye These are made easy to thread by just pulling the thread through the top of the needle
Doll or Toymakers A long, fine needle Used for sculpturing on toys, particularly facial features.
Yarn Darners A long needle with a large eye and sharp point Used for darning with yarn
Cotton Darners A long needle (smaller than a yarn darner) with  long eye and sharp point Used for mending holes
Chenille A thick needle with a long, large eye and very sharp point Used for ribbon or heavy embroidery. The sharp point makes it easy to get through coarser materials
Bodkins A long, thick needle with a ball-point end, they can be round or flat Used for threading and weaving ribbons or elastic through casings and other embellishments
Quilting or Betweens A shorter needle with a small, rounded eye The shorter length of this needle make it easier for you to stitch with accuracy and speed. Great for making fine stitches in quilting and heavy fabrics.
Beading A long, very thin needle Used for sewing beads or sequins to fabric
Ball-point A needle with a rounded point Used for sewing knitted fabrics. The rounded tip pushes through yarns rather than breaking them.


Source: www.sewing.org/files/guidelines/22_110_hand_sewing_needle_guide.pdf


Sarah Barker, Truro Fabrics

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