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There are many different types of needles to use in embroidery and cross stitching. Quality and size vary greatly, so try several different needles to find which one you are the most comfortable using. To help you get started, I have written up some basics to keep in mind when choosing which needles to use and when to use them.
Types of embroidery needles
The most common needle used in cross stitching is an embroidery or tapestry needle. Other needles exist, such as beading, chenille, quilting, and milliners needles, and each type has a specific use. Here is a brief description of each type of needle.
1) Tapestry needles
A tapestry needle has a blunt point, which pushes aside evenweave fabrics instead of piercing them, and a large eye to accommodate several strands of thread.
2) Embroidery needles
An embroidery needle is much like a tapestry needle, except that the tip is sharper, the needle is thinner and the eye is smaller than a tapestry needle. They are easier to use in cross stitching when you are doing French knots, as the needle is able to pierce the fabric easier than tapestry needles.
Petite tapestry needles
Petite tapestry needles are shorter in length than tapestry needles, which makes stitching faster since there is less of a needle to pull through the fabric with each stitch.
Double-eye tapestry needles
Double-eye tapestry needles are needles with two eyes and are especially useful when using different types of floss or two or more colours (known as blending colours).
Beading needles are used for adding beads. The needles are long and thin because tapestry needles are usually too large to add beads to cross stitch projects.
Chenille needles are used in ribbon embroidery because they have a long eye and sharp points.
Quilting needles are quite short and have a small, round eye and a sharp point. They are perfect to do short stitches quickly and precisely.
Milliners needles are the best needles to use when doing French and Bullion knots. They are very long, with small round eyes, as opposed to the long oval eyes of a tapestry needle.
Quality and sizes of embroidery needles are important
Look for high quality needles and threads, as this will make for a more enjoyable stitching experience and produce a higher quality finish. Poor quality needles are harder to thread because they have a rough eye that will actually pull and fray your thread. Poor quality thread will fray easily, making it hard to thread through the needle and giving your finished piece a fuzzy appearance.
On higher count fabric, you need a smaller sized needle. Kind in mind that the larger the number size of the needle is, the smaller the actual needle will be. For example, a size 26 tapestry needle is smaller than a size 24 tapestry needle. The higher the count of the fabric, the smaller the holes in the fabric, therefore you will need a smaller needle. As a guideline, use a size 24 tapestry needle for stitching on an 11 or 14 fabric count; use a size 26 for fabric with a fabric count of 18 or greater.
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