Needles for Embroidery

Embroidery Needles
Mollie Johanson

Different fabrics and types of embroidery require different needles, and these needles come in a range of sizes.  Choose the needle that best suits your project.

The size of the needle you select depends on the fiber count of the fabric you are stitching on, and the thickness of the thread you are using. When choosing a needle size, it helps to know that the larger the number, the smaller the needle.

Your needle should glide through the fabric without needing a tug to get it through, because this...MORE causes friction on the thread, breaking it down and causing fuzzies. The needle should also not be so large that it leaves a hole in the fabric after passing the thread through.

Using a needle threader will help make the task of threading a needle easier and quicker. You may also want to make a needle minder or a needle book to help keep your needles safe and organized.

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    Embroidery Needles or Sharps

    Embroidery needles have sharp tips and larger eyes than regular sewing needles, so the eye can accommodate embroidery threads.

    The sharp tips help the needle penetrate tightly woven embroidery fabrics, as well as felt. They are also sometimes referred to as crewel needles as they are used for crewel embroidery.

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    Tapestry Needles

    Tapestry Needles have dull points (often called ball-pointed needles) and are used when the needle needs to slip in between threads in the fabric, rather than piercing the fabric. 

    They also have larger eyes than sewing needles and embroidery needles.

    Ball-point needles are commonly used for counted cross stitch on Aida fabric or evenweave fabric, drawn work and pulled thread techniques, but they work for regular embroidery too, depending on the fabric you're using.

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    Chenille Needles

    Chenille needles are similar to embroidery needles, as they have sharp points and large eyes. However, chenille needles are shorter in length and wider in width than standard embroidery needles, and have long eyes.

    Chenille needles are most often used for woolwork and crewel embroidery.

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    Ribbon Embroidery Needles

    Ribbon embroidery needles come in a variety of sizes and styles and have larger, eyes for use with varying widths of ribbon. Although it's not absolutely necessary to use specialized needles for ribbon embroidery, it's always helpful to have tools designed for what you're working on.

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    Huck Embroidery Needles

    As their name suggests, these needles are designed for huck embroidery. They are longer than most embroidery needles, and have a ball-pointed and angled end. This allows the needle to easily pick up and pass through the floating threads in huck toweling.

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    Milliner's Needles

    Originally used by milliner's (hat makers), these long, sharp needles with round eyes are often used for ribbon embroidery, pleating or with heavy threads such as size 5 pearl cotton.

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    Darning Needles

    Darning needles are longer in length than other types of needles and have a small eye.

    They are commonly used for darning, running stitch embroidery and huck embroidery.

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    Gold Plated Needles

    Many of the needles listed above are available in a gold plated version.

    These needles can be used by people who suffer from nickel allergies, or whose natural body oils tend to discolor needles.

    Gold plated needles should be replaced as the plating wears off.