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Hand Sewing Needles

needle-category.jpg    Craft Depot's Hand Sewing Needles Guide

Quilters can choose from a large array of hand sewing needles, and each type of needle is designd with unique characteristics that help it accomplish a specific task. But although needles are commonly associated with a certain technique, you might find that one needle has advantages for your own particular style of sewing.

Characteristics of a Hand Sewing Needle

  • The hole at the non-pointed end of a needle is called its eye.
  • Needles are made with different eye shapes and sizes, each designed to suit the type of thread, yarn or other material you're sewing with (enabling the threaded needle to pass through the piece being sewn with as much fluidity as possible).
  • The long portion of a needle is called its shank.
  • Needle size is determined by both its length and thickness. As a needle's size designation increases, its length and thickness decreases . For instance, a size 12 needle is shorter and thinner than a size 9.
  • Needles are typically coated with a metal (that differs from their core construction) to help them glide more easily through fabric, and to help prevent corrosion.

Types of Hand Sewing Needle


Sharps are the needles most commonly used for hand sewing. They do have a sharp point, as the name implies, and are of medium length. Sharps have a rounded eye, which is usually just large enough to accommodate thread. They are the "universal" needles in your sewing kit.

  Quilting needles, which are also known as betweens, are much shorter than sharps and also have a small, rounded eye for thread. This type of needle is a bit thinner than a sharp as well. Quilting needles are great for small, detailed stitching such as quilting as
their short length and small eye allow betweens to push easily through multiple layers of a quilt sandwich.

 milliner-s-needles.jpg   Milliner's needles are the longest of the hand-sewing needles and are sometimes knowns as Straw needles. They are traditionally used for hat making but are also great for basting, as you can maneouver them quickly through fabric. A popular choice for applique.

 embroidery-and-crewel-needles.jpg   Crewel needles are designed for embroidery and are very similar to sharps. The main difference is in the eye - crewel needles have a larger eye, so that thicker flosses and yarns can pass through.
 tapestry-needles.jpg   Tapestry needles have a blunt point and a big eye. They're made this way so they can pass through needlepoint and tapestry canvases without damaging them. And that large eye will accommodate the thicker yarns used for these kinds of crafts.
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