Different types of hand sewing needles

Whilst you may choose to do most of your sewing on a machine, there are still some cases where you may prefer to finish your garment by hand. For example: when hemming a garment, attaching buttons, or applying a delicate overlay like lace. This guide is designed to help you see a variety of different hand-sewing needles and their uses, so that you can stock up on a range that are suitable for your projects.

Hand sewing needles vary in thickness, length, point shape and needle eye size. Usually they come in packs of type or size and sometimes in a variety pack. Usually, the larger the needle size, the shorter and finer the needle. The type of project refers to what you are sewing and the size refers to the weight and thickness of the thread you are using.

General sewing needles:

The most common hand-sewing needles are called 'Sharps' needles. They come in a variety of sizes, and are popular as they have sharp, pointed tips - suitable for a variety of projects. These needles are a sewing box essential!

  • Size 2/3/4 -For medium to heavy weight fabrics.
  • Size 5/6/7/8/9/10-For light to medium weight fabrics.
  • Size 11/12-For fine fabrics, or for creating small, delicate stitches, for example when hemming or finishing garments.

Repair needles:

  • Short Darners-Needles with long, slender eyes, perfect for mending and darning projects. These needles work best with cotton thread or yarn.
  • Long Darners- Good for darning and mending projects. Due to their length, these needles are also useful for basting and layering several fabrics together with ease.
  • Yarn Darners-Long needles with long, slender eyes. Their length makes them ideal for mending or darning larger holes, and work best with cotton thread or yarn. In a size 14/18, these styles of needles are good for sewing together knitting or crochet projects.
  • Curved Repair-Curved needles are great for sewing together, or repairing 3D objects, for example, lampshades or fabric boxes.
  • Leather Needles-Perfect for sewing tougher materials, although mainly used for working with leather and suede.

Craft needles:

  • Tapestry/Cross Stitch Needles-These needles have a large, rounded eye and a blunt round point. These needles are designed for creating needlepoint, petit point, cross-stitch and plastic canvas work, as they push aside fibres, rather than piercing them and allow for thicker threads to be used.
  • Embroidery/Crewel Needles-These needles have a long eye, perfect for sewing several strands of thread at once. They are also suitable for general sewing, as they are perfect if you can't usually thread needles easily or have poor sight!
  • Quilting Needles-A short, fine needle with a rounded eye. As these needles are short, it is easier to create quick and even stitches.
  • Beading Needles-These needles are usually very fine and quite long with slender eyes. They are used to sew and string beads, pearls and sequins. You can also get shorter beading needles, which are good for adding one off, rather than strings of beads to a garment.
  • Milliner/Straw Needles-A long needle, with round eyes. These needles are traditionally used in hat-making but are also great for pleating and smocking.

If you can believe it, these are just some of the many different types of needle available. There are needles for almost every sewing and repair project. Keep a few of these needles as basic types in your supply and purchase others as required to help build a collection!

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