Different needs for each crafts January 25, 2013 • Robin Stroot
Embroidery needles come in several different sizes. Tapestry needles are used for most needlepoint and counted cross stitch projects. The needle’s eye is large enough to accommodate yarn and/or several strands of embroidery floss. The needle also has a dull point to allow the needle to go through embroidery fabric smoothly without splitting the threads of the embroidery fabric. They range in sizes from 13 to 26. The higher the number, the smaller the needle.
Chenille needles are made for most other types of fabric and/or ribbon embroidery. The numbering system for chenille needles is the same as tapestry needles except that the needles have a very sharp point. The needle will go through the fabric without making a larger hole.
To determine if your needle is the correct type and size for your project, bring a threaded needle through to the right side of the fabric. The needle should come through the fabric without making the hole larger on the fabric.
For example, let’s say that you’re stitching on 14-count Aida cloth. Bring the threaded needle through one of the small holes in the fabric. If the hole enlarges on the Aida cloth, the needle is too big and will distort the background fabric.
One exception may be that if you are stitching with a thread/yarn such as angora; you may want to open the fabric with a needle that does make a small hole on the fabric background to allow the angora to go through the fabric without limiting the loft of the angora.
On the other hand, if you use a needle that is too small, the eye will not be large enough to accommodate the stitching thread and will pinch the thread and make the thread fibers set too close together, giving a pinched appearance to the stitched design.
When I am done stitching for several hours or longer, I remove the stitching needle from the thread and place it in a needle book, a pin cushion or at the very edge of the stitching fabric and never leave the needle stuck into the fabric on the design area. The needle will pick up oils or moisture from your hands or moisture in high humidity areas and could leave dirt or rust stains on the fabric, especially if the item is to be stored for any long period of time.
Be sure to frequently check your needles for signs of wear or rust on the shaft of the needle and replace them when they show any signs of wear.
It may also help to dust your hands with talc before stitching to absorb any moisture or acid.
Also, avoid using sterling silver thimbles or needles as the patina from the silver will eventually rub off onto the fabric and leave permanent stains on your work.
I also release the fabric from the embroidery hoop so it won’t leave a permanent impression in the fabric. Fabric that is attached to stretcher bars or roller bars can be left on the forms but release the tension on the fabric for items that are stored for long periods of time.