It’s important to choose the right size needle to suit your fabric and thread so you can achieve the best possible results when stitching – and here are some tips to help you do this:
1. Your needle should be able to pull your thread (and that includes the doubled-over part behind the eye of the needle) through your fabric quite easily, without putting too much stress on the thread as you pull it through the fabric – you shouldn’t have to tug, it should pass through quite easily.
2. I was always taught that the shaft of my needle should be about the same thickness as that of my thread. That’s fine if you’re using an open weave fabric, but for most surface embroidery you need to consider not only the thickness of your thread, but also its thickness at the needle’s eye where it’s doubled over, as well as the weave of the fabric. A tighter, closed weave will need a needle that makes the right size hole for both thread and needle to pass through.
3. If you’ve pulled your fabric tightly in your hoop you may hear a sort of popping noise as you pass your needle through, but there still shouldn’t be any real resistance to the passage of your needle through the fabric. If you have to really tug to pull your needle through then you should be using a larger size needle.
4. There may also be a soft noise as the rest of the thread passes through your fabric, but not a loud zzzzz sort of noise. If you hear such a noise and are experiencing resistance as you pull your thread through the fabric, then once again you should have chosen a larger needle.
5. And finally, the hole your needle makes in your fabric should be large enough for your thread to pass through it, but no larger. Your needle shouldn’t leave a visible hole in your fabric around your thread.
Having said all this, there is no set formula to determine what size needle you should use at any particular time. Whilst you should consider all of the above, your needle choice may well be based mainly on your personal preference – which needle are you comfortable using at any particular time, and with particular materials? Over time, as you gain experience, choosing the right needle will become automatic – something you don’t even have to think about!
Do you have any tips for choosing your needle? If so, do leave them in the comments below – we’d love to know!
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