Guesswork-Free Tips to Choose the Right Needle for Needlepoint

Guess No More! Use These Tips to Choose the Right Needle for Needlepoint

Here's a handy guide for choosing the perfect needle for any needlepoint project. Look it over first; and then refer back here whenever you need some extra help selecting a needle for your next project.

What Type of Needle is Used for Needlepoint?

The only suitable needle for working most needlepoint projects is a Tapestry Needle. This blunt-tipped hand sewing needle has an elongated eye that’s perfect for holding thick fibers or multiple strands of needlepoint thread.

The dull point of a Tapestry Needle makes it easy to slip through holes in the needlepoint canvas without catching or splitting the horizontal and vertical mesh threads.

Stop Guessing! Use the Right Tapestry Needle

You don’t need to guess or stress-out about the size needle to use in working your project; and deciding to use the same size needle for every needlepoint design you stitch does not work well either. To take out the guesswork and chose the right needle every time you stitch a project, just follow these two simple tips:

  1. The size tapestry needle required for your project depends entirely on the canvas mesh size. A narrow needle should be used on fine-mesh canvas, while a thicker needle is used on canvases with larger holes and mesh sizes.
  2. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the higher the tapestry needle number, the finer the needle; and finer needles match needlepoint projects with fine canvas mesh sizes.

    Use This Chart to Select the Right Needle for Your Project

    Choosing the right tapestry needle for your project does not have to be difficult. Use this helpful chart every time you get ready to stitch a new design.

    As an added precaution, test the selected needle out on a small corner area of the canvas to ensure that it passes through the canvas smoothly and easily without distorting the mesh threads.

    If you do this, you’ll avoid excess wear on the canvas and needlepoint threads as you stitch.

    Canvas Mesh Size Tapestry Needle Size
    #8 to #10Size 16
    #10 to #12Size 18
    #12 to #14Size 20
    #14 to #18Size 22
    #22 to #24Size 24 to 26

    Using Chenille and Other Needles for Needlepoint

    Chenille needles, which are similar to tapestry needles can also be used, but these have a sharper point and larger eye, and are generally better suited to other types of embroidery. However, when used in needlepoint, they as well as small sharp needles can help to secure couched threads for surface embroidery work.

    How to Know If You Have Chosen the Right Needle

    Use an empty tapestry needle and push it through the canvas like you are going to place a stitch. If it goes through without pushing the canvas threads apart, it is the proper size. If it spreads the threads too far apart and creates a large hole, the needle is too big and you will want to choose a smaller size.

    On the other hand, if the needle falls through the canvas too easily, it is too small; so you will need to pick a larger one.

    Taking Care of Your Tapestry Needles

    Although tapestry needles are inexpensive, you'll still want to take care of them just like you do with other needlepoint supplies. With constant use, the blunt needle tips can start to feel rough and may snag the needlepoint threads. They may also get discolored.

    When this happens, it's time to do one of these things or your project may be damaged:

    • Clean discolored  and rough needles with steel wool and soapy water. Make sure to rinse and dry them thoroughly before using for stitching. A raspberry tool, used in cleaning and sharpening hand sewing needles, is great for keeping your tapestry needles in working order.
    • Throw them away and use new ones!

    Updated by Althea R. DeBrule, Needlepoint Expert