Today we’re telling you everything you need to know about the different types of needles! Between sewing machine needles, cross stitch needles, and hand sewing needles, we know things can get a little confusing, but Fat Quarter Shop is here to help.
We thought we’d start with the history of the needle and then get into the different types of needles, including some of what we use!
The oldest needle discovered is made of bird bone, estimated to be more than 50,000 years old! The first needle with an eyelet is about 25,000 years old.
Crafters today are familiar with the smooth, extremely thin metal needles that are available almost everywhere you look. Isn’t it amazing that humans continue to embrace and utilize the same tool over hundreds of generations?
Now that we’ve taken a look at the past let’s get into some of our current favorites!
Hand Sewing Needles
When it comes to adding binding or quilting by hand, it’s best to pick the right needle for the job.
Are you adding binding to a quilt?
A super-thin Between or Straw needle might do the job. Kimberly prefers to use Clover Black Gold Size 9 Quilting Between Needles for hand binding her quilts.
Pro tip: thread several needles at a time with a length of thread as long as your outstretched arm. Try threading them outside in the daylight, where you can easily see the tiny eyes of these needles. Or use a needle threader, which comes in many forms.
We also suggest Aurifil 50 wt thread for easy threading!
When hand-quilting a quilt, choose a needle with a large eye that will accommodate medium-weight thread. You may want to select a size 7 or 8, as the shaft will be longer and easier to work through several layers of your quilt. The higher the number, the shorter and finer it is with sewing needles.
Some of our favorite needles for binding and quilting are:
Sewing Machine Needles
Most quilters agree that it’s essential to replace sewing machine needles regularly. Keeping a sharp needle cuts down on skipped threads, fabric snags, and makes everything more enjoyable. Some quilters change their sewing machine needle with each new quilt, every 2 to 3 bobbins, or within a set time frame. Find what works best for you and your sewing machine!
Cross Stitch and Tapestry Needles
Tapestry needles are perfect for cross stitch because they have a blunt tip that glides smoothly through cross stitch fabric, parting the threads at each intersection.
Cross Stitch needle sizes range from approximately 18 to 28, and the higher the number, the finer the needle. The eye of the needle will also shrink as you go up in number size.
Pro tip: remember that the larger the holes in the material, the larger the cross stitch needle size you’ll need. If the needle is too large for the fabric, it will distort the grid and make a hole the floss can’t cover.
An important thing to remember with cross stitch needles is the number of strands of thread to use based on the needle size. You can find more on the number of thread strands for cross stitch needles on our How to Cross Stitch blog.
Our Favorite Cross Stitch Needles
Needles allow us to do what we love most at Fat Quarter Shop – sewing and stitching! A good needle makes everything easier. If you have more needle questions, leave them for us in the comments and weigh in by letting us know your favorite needle or tip.
Happy Quilting and Stitching!