When learning to quilt there are a wealth of options to choose from when it comes to picking needles. Often it just comes down to personal choice and what you prefer to use or are most comfortable with.
Needles for hand sewing are inexpensive and mean that you can experiment to find the one that suits you best without breaking the bank! This is essential when you’re first starting out with a hobby and have so many other purchase considerations to make.
The anatomy of a needle
The nonpointed end of the needle has a hole in it. This is known as the eye. Needles for hand sewing (just as in machine sewing) have a variety of different shapes and sizes meant for different types of sewing and for different threads. The main need for a needle is that it passes through fabric easily and doesn’t create any nicks or tears.
The main part of a needle is called the shank. The length and thickness of a needle goes down as it’s number increases. So, for instance, a needle that is size 11 will be shorter and thinner than a needle that is size 8.
When thinking about quilting, there are town main needles to think about. ‘Betweens’ which are used for hand quilting and ‘Sharps’ for any applique work. They come in a range of sizes 1 through to 12.
Some needles are self-threading. They have slots that will allow you to easily pull the thread through the eye rather than inserting a strand, which can be tricky.
Betweens are short, sturdy needles made especially for hand quilting. They have a naturally short and squat stature which means they’re ideal to glide through multiple layers of quilting fabric.
Experiment with all the varying sizes of ‘betweens’ to see which one suits you best. Some beginners might find it easier to deal with smaller needles, whilst others may naturally gravitate towards larger needles. It’s all very much down to personal preference.
Maybe start with a size 9 needle and work towards the smaller needles as you become accustomed to hand quilting.
Sharps for Applique
Sharps are thin needles that have a round eye. They are generally longer than all-purpose needles but still very versatile.
They are recommended for general simple hand sewing tasks and applique techniques. They’re a real sewer’s needle and something that anyone who is serious about taking up sewing should have in their sewing kit. Just as with Betweens needles, it’s a good idea to have a variety of shapes and sizes to hand whilst you get used to what you’ll be comfortable with.
Milliner’s (Hat Makers) Needles - also known as Straw Needles
These are essential if you think you might want to take up hat making, or repairs to hats. They’re very similar to applique needles. And can also be a real boon if you’re sewing on bindings to your quilts.
Other suggested (but not essential) needles