A beginners guide to hand sewing needles May 19, 2019 13:56

Beginners Guide to Needles for Hand-sewing

Anyone can pick up a needle and get sewing, it’s genuinely easy to start. But all the different types of sewing needle can be confusing. What needles are good for embroidery? What’s the standard sewing needle? Why are there so many types of needle?

Never fear! Here’s a guide to needles for sewing that will get you started.

What is a Sharp?

The sharp is the bog-standard hand sewing needle. Thin, with a sharp point and a small eye, this is for using to stitch things together.  Sizes 7-9 are good everyday sizes, and 7 is smaller than 9. Use for general hand sewing and repairs. 

What is a Crewel?

A crewel (not a cruel needle) is for decorative stitching, because it’s got a big enough eye to use with thicker, prettier threads like embroidery floss. It’s got a sharp point, and is a bit thicker than a Sharp, with a slightly bigger eye. It’s a bit too chunky for delicate fabrics because the eye is big, making the needle fatter and more likely to leave a hole in the fabric.  7-9 are standard sizes. Use for embroidery, or blanket stitch on the edges of appliqué or felt.

What is a Tapestry needle?

A thicker needle, with a pretty big eye so you can thread it with tapestry wool (similar to knitting yarn.) It’s for tapestry or big cross-stitch, which is done on fabrics that come with a grid of holes (like Aida). It doesn’t need to be sharp because the idea is you stitch through the ready-made holes, which also keeps your stitches in neat line.

What is a Chenille needle?

A super under-rated needle in my opinion.  It’s  fat and sturdy with a big eye, like a Tapestry needle, but it’s sharp like a Crewel. So you can use it for all sorts of thicker materials - for example sewing fabric on to espadrille soles, or sewing bigger decorative stitches into fabric with no holes. It’s too fat for lighter fabrics, but it’s one of those that does the job in lots of situations for general crafting, and I always have them handy for unusual jobs. They are also great for sewing with ribbon to create a decorative effect

What is a Leather needle?

This is very sharp and has sharp slicing sides too. This is to slice through the leather rather punching a hole through it. It makes small repairs or leather projects much easier, but only on thin soft leather.

What is a Beading needle?

A super skinny needle that is almost all eye. It’s for threading little beads on to thin wire so has to be as thin as possible. It’s also a bit flimsy so not great for sewing things together

 What is a Quilting needle

Thin, short and sharp and with a very small eye, these are for the small, neat stitches of hand quilting. But a Sharp will do the job if you’re getting started with quilting!

What is a good mix of needles for a crafter?

A mix of sharps, larger crewels and a pack of chenilles will cover most bases. If I had to have one needle it would be a medium crewel because the eye is just big enough that I can thread it without glasses! 

So go and try out a bit of stitching! Have a look at our Floral Embroidery mini workshop  or our longer Mindful Embroidery workshop here