Hand Sewing Needles

Oh that I could identify exactly what brand of needle this one is!



It became my favourite as I stitched the wool applique on my piece from Sue Spargo's class.



You see I picked the needle out of this collection here:



And clearly there is no organization to this "collection"!  I picked it because it was on the finer side, had some length and a serviceable eye for the thread I was using. I expected the wool applique to be smooth and easy with the needle, but it was also sooooo smooth with the cotton.  I have some hunting and comparison to do with the little packages in my needle box in the hope of identifying it's origins.


Something I have long wondered about is how to know when to change my hand sewing needles. Okay, so when it snaps in half during enthusiastic stitching sessions, that is obvious, but generally it is a little more obvious when to change machine needles.  With machine needles there is the rule of thumb that you change your needle every 8 to 24 hours of sewing, depending on the fibres you are sewing through.  And of course there is the telltale tick-tick-tick or click-click-click when the needle is dull or has a small burr. After all the hard work put into quilts, changing out the needle is important so that holes or snags are not created in the fabric. Poor stitch quality despite tension adjustments is another indication to examine the machine needle.


With hand sewing needles, when to change needles can be more subtle. Here is what I have come up with for "harmonious"stitching!


1. Hand sewing needles are either plated with nickel, gold or platinum.  This plating wears off over time and perspiration can erode the plating as well.  When your needle is sluggish  and dragging as you go through the fabric, change it out.


2.  Sometimes needles can get a bit grimy with sweat from our hands. Give it a wash, dry well and see if that improves things.


3.  Good quality needles will bend instead of break.  When you are investing time into hand sewing, give yourself a treat and invest in good needles (Richard Hemmings, Roxanne, Jeanna Kimball, John James).


4.  Blunt needles are hard to push and you will feel resistance as you are going through the fabric.  You might not realize this extra effort as you are stitching, but aching in your fingers and wrists will tell you!  A new needle is in order!


5.  If you see that the needle is catching or snagging the yarn of the fabric when you enter and exit the stitch, replace it!


You can see that I am still having tons of fun working on my project from the class with Sue.  I did mention it is addictive, didn't I!





 Have a great week


Happy Stitching!



  1. Thanks for the hints on needles. I use John James needles for all of my handwork, and I love them. I think a better grade needle lasts longer, too, so it’s worth the little extra money up front. Cheap needles are for sewing on buttons….that’s it! lol

    • mekinch says...

      Hmmm … the last time I sewed on a button was when? Probably because I did not have the right needle for that task!!

  2. Amberlea says...

    Your project is gorgeous! Love it! I can’t wait to see the whole thing — I’m so curious about that blue shape in the lower left corner. So imaginative and creative and vibrant! It looks like you’re creating a storybook world. xoxo

    • mekinch says...

      What a compliment after seeing your fabulous work on your children’s storybook! Thank you!

  3. Do you sharpen your hand needles on the little emery bags on the pin cushion?

    Your work is very beautiful!

    • mekinch says...

      I used to, but then I got to thinking that it was likely wearing down the plating and finish prematurely on the needles and not necessarily sharpening the needles that much. “Six of one” likely! Thank you for your comment!

  4. Beverly Macbeth says...

    your needle looks like a straw needle. Long and thin, with a decent eye. I love them for binding quilts.

    • mekinch says...

      Beverly, I think you are absolutely right … now just to figure out the brand … I have about 5 different ones! (A nice problem to have!)

  5. debby says...

    That looks like a milliner’s needle. I learned about them at Sue Spargo’s Class!! She likes them because the eye is the same size as the shaft of the needle so it is easier to pull through the fabric. I bought some very large size 1 milliner’s needles, and they are saving my hand as I stitch with #5 perle cotton!

    • mekinch says...

      I was thinking straw needle. Now I will compare it to some of the milliner’s needles I have on hand. Thanks!

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