While rummaging through a drawer in my
studio, I find a forgotten stash of hand needles. There are long needles, short
needles, thick and thin needles, some with big eyes, tiny eyes, and even two
eyes. As I sort through the needles, I realize: I have no clue as to what these
needles are used for. My needles have lost their identity!
For every type of hand stitching, there is
a needle for the job. The eye, shaft, and point of a hand needle are customized
for its distinctive purpose. Familiar needles, like sharps, are used for
general sewing and found in most households. Embroiderers use long-eyed needles
with tapered points; hand quilters use fine, thin needles. Then there are specialty
needles for leather, tapestry, beading, sail-making, upholstery, and doll-making.
And to further complicate needle
identification, each class of hand needle has its own sizing system. With some
exceptions, as the length and thickness of a needle
increases, the number of the size decreases.
So how can I identify the needles in my
One way is to use this handy-dandy pocket
guide from C&T Publishing. Inside the
Sewing Needle Pocket Guide for Hand Stitching are detailed photographs of hand needles showing their
characteristics like eye size, point, and length.
Place a needle on a full-size photo and you can easily identify the size and purpose of your hand needle. If your needle falls between
the sizes on the chart, then it’s likely an in-between size.
Knowing the size and purpose of the needle
also helps you match your thread size to the correct needle. Here’s a reference
chart I give to my students to match their embroidery needles to the correct
size of pearl cotton thread.
Don’t let your needles rust in a drawer
without a purpose like I did. Put them to good use and trust the
Sewing Needle Pocket Guide for Hand Stitching to help identify your needle sizes, types, and uses. Choosing the
right needle for your next stitching project will make your embroidery, fine
hand quilting, or sail-making go smoothly.
If you would like
to see a needle in action, please join my
Wooly Bird Stitch Along, a tutorial on artfabrik.com. Step-by-step photos with directions, a
materials list, and links to embroidery stitch directions guide you along the
way. And you’ll learn exactly which needle to use.
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