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Hand Sewing Needles Guide

Guide to hand sewing needles

This article is sponsored by Prym who supply a wide range of hand sewing needles and haberdashery.  Take a look at their huge range of sewing products, haberdashery and accessories here. 

We have put together this useful guide to different types of hand sewing needle so you can choose the most appropriate for the project you are working on. 

Basics about Hand Sewing Needles

There are a few things to know about selecting hand sewing needles. The needle gauge is indicated by a number and the bigger the number, the finer and shorter the needle. For each type of needle, the length of the needle and the size of the eye are adapted to the needle’s shaft diameter or gauge.

 Prym sewing needles are mainly manufactured from steel with burr-free finishes for smooth sewing and snag-free threading. 


Sharps and Betweens

Different types of hand sewing needles

Sharps are the standard sewing needle and range from size 1 to the smallest size 11. Betweens are shorter than sharps and are sized from 3 to 11. Both types have sharp points! Betweens are ideal for professional sewing and techniques such as backstitch or applique. As they are shorter, Betweens are often used for hand quilting to assist with faster quilting.



Guide to hand sewing needles

Darners are longer then sharps and range in size from 5/0 to 9. The 5/0 size are much larger and have a big eye for darning with thicker threads or wool. They are used for mending with yarn or cotton and are also suitable for tacking as they are very long. 



Hand embroidery needle guide

Millinery needles are comparatively longer than conventional hand sewing needles with round eyes and are exceptionally suited for sewing firmer material such as in costume-making and hat making. Due to the fact that the stitches must generally be applied as invisibly as possible, this application requires a fine and long needle. Millinery needles are also useful for smocking and pleating applications. They come in sizes 5 to 10. 



Which hand sewing needle do I need?

Chenille needles resemble tapestry needles and have a large eye with a sharp point, useful for hand embroidery with thicker threads on linen. They come in sizes 16 to 24.



When to sew with crewel needles

Crewel needles made of hardened steel are especially suitable for fine embroidery and sewing. The needles have the typical tapered and slim tip shape of a hand sewing needle and have a relatively large eye, which makes threading generally easier to do by hand. Sized from 3 to 10.



How to choose a needle for hand sewing

As the blunt tip does not penetrate the fibres, but rather pushes them aside, tapestry needles are especially suitable for embroidery with coarser materials such as wool. For use with coarse-weave or even-weave fabrics and counted thread work. They come in sizes 14 to 26.  



Very fine beading needles

Beading needles are very fine and straight with long eyes and are designed for threading beads, pearls and sequins. Sizes 10 and 12.

Other specialist hand sewing needles include very long doll making needles, triangular pointed leather sewing needles, bodkins for sewing up wool and threading elastics, tapes and ribbons.  

Take a look at the vast range of needles that Prym have to offer on their website. 

You can buy their needles online in the UK at Pound Fabrics and Sew Essential 

Why not visit the hand sewing section of our techniques page for some hand sewing ideas?