Recently I realized what a difference the right needle can make and wondered how I had completely ignored it up until now. It is like a deep dark secret of the sewing world and thank goodness for the internet or I would still be walking around Michael’s wondering if this time I had gotten lucky.
Chenille vs. Tapestry Needle
I can now say with confidence that my favorite needle is a number 26 chenille needle and I will never buy the mixed package of “embroidery needles” again. Chenille needles are shorter (which is great for tight spots) and easier to thread in my opinion but still have a sharp point:
I previously bought a package of Tapestry needles (they look the same as chenille needles) but their dull point can really make your chain stitch look uneven. Tapestry needles are good for cross stitch and thus abound everywhere but are not good for precise embroidery.
Another thing I hate is needles that tarnish and bend, and needles where the eye doesn’t seem smooth inside so I recently ordered some fancy needles from http://www.colonialneedle.com/. Needle six-packs are under $2 which is a great investment for the pleasure of perhaps stitching with the perfect needle.
Needles Unstuck : What is the difference anyway?
Below are some great diagrams from Colonial Needle to help you see the differences in types of needles and how the sizing works. (view their complete list)
embroidery: the ones I can thread are always too big. Oval eye, sharp point, finer-shanked than chenille and tapestry needles.
chenille: sharp point, long oval eye (and my fave).
tapestry: same as Chenille but blunt point –good for loosely woven fabric (can be curved), long oval eye.
sharps/sewing: round eye, sharp point, medium length.
quilting: same as sharps but shorter, round eye, sharp point.
Some other things I’ve learned:
- Needle eyes have right and wrong sides - choose the larger smoother side to prevent thread wear or if you aren’t happy with your needle's performance try threading it from the other side.
- If your floss starts to fray the needle eye may be flawed or you might using too much floss.
- A larger needle will help prevent wear on the thread if your fabric is rough.
- A needle that leaves holes in your fabric is usually too large unless you are making bigger holes to protect the floss from the fabric.
What I love the best about the embroidery I do is that there are no rules. The back doesn’t have to look as good as the front the colors are up to me and so are the stitches and how my design comes out is not predetermined. It puts the art back into this craft for me and makes me extra proud of my designs. I have Jenny Hart to thank for that because she makes designs that I want to stitch and has never made a kit detailing the colors and number of threads. Everyone’s comes out different and they all look great.
I found my needle in the haystack I hope you find yours too :) and if you are working on an unconventional fabric maybe test out an unconventional needle!