As a teacher of embroidery, everyone, and I mean everyone, asks me if the needle makes a difference. YES is the correct answer!
The eye of the needle is the first thing to look at, to make sure that the thread will fit through it, and that the eye is the correct shape for the thread or ribbon that you are using. The eye and length of the needle will be proportionate to the size of the needle. This follows for any type of needle, whether sewing or embroidery.
The purpose of the needle is to make a hole in the fabric or the canvas big enough so that the thread can follow with ease. If the hole is too small, the thread will eventually fray; if the hole is too big, then the thread will not cover the hole. So again YES—the needle makes a difference!
Many students get confused once the needle is out of the package, so I suggest dedicating a pincushion to your embroidery needles. I take each section and write down the type of needles that I use with a permanent marker. For instance, embroidery, sharps, milliners, cotton darners, beading, and chenille needles are all in my tool box; therefore there is a wedge on the pincushion with each of those names on it!
Another good idea is to dedicate a piece of fabric or even an index card to each of the types of needles that you may be using. Thread the needle with the type of thread or ribbon that you would use for embroidering your project. Insert the needle into the fabric or card, then tape the thread down. Write the name of the needle on the fabric or card. Voila, no more confusion!
Happy stitching, and enjoy!
Get more of Christen's helpful advice in The Embroidery Book and with her fast2mark Embroidery Stencils, Essential Collection!