Choosing a needle fit for purpose is crucial for the success of your sewing project. When making soft furnishings there are 2 specific general purpose hand sewing needles and 2 specialist needles that I always have handy on my worktable. These are my go-to for most day-to-day workroom jobs. Are you using the right needle?
General Purpose Needles
Hand Sewing Needles
These are sharp pointed, hand sewing needles. Look for needles with an eye that has a snag free surface. This makes both threading easier and minimises thread damage. These needles are usually made of steel, have a smooth polished surface and a long slender point to help the needle slide through fabrics effortlessly, for quicker and easier sewing.
The John James #001 is my go-to for most basic hand stitching. These needles are super sharp and the eyes are a little larger than many, making double threads or strong thicker threads such as Terko easier to manage. A must have on the worktable for a variety of jobs. Not being too long makes them ideal for daisy chains to attach lining to face fabric when making bespoke handmade curtains.
Not to mention lampshade stitch. Super sharp and super strong means they are able to go through multiple layers of fabric and able to deal with the tension requirements of making traditional lampshades. Want to learn more about lampshade stitch? Click here.
The extra length of a long darner makes them ideal for basting and layering fabric. They are excellent for hand tacking and can be useful to sew on some trims. My go-to long darning needle is the John James #007.
Due to the extra length long darners are also great for all your gathering purposes such as handmade gathered lampshades. Want to learn more about making Gathered Lampshades, click here.
Straight Mattress (Buttoning) Needles
These come in a variety of sized from 4″ to 10 ” long, often in packs of 3. They have a sharp point and a large eye, great for threading extra thick, strong threads and twine. Consequently they are more commonly known in the soft furnishing industry as buttoning needles.
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Curved or Upholstery Needles
Theses also come in a variety of sizes. This is a fabulous needle to have in your tool kit. The first time using this curved needle can feel a little awkward but persevere as they are such an asset when attempting some tricky jobs such as attaching heavy ornate trimming to handmade tailored lampshades.
Are you using the right needle? Embroidery Needles
For most embroidery projects there are 4 types of embroidery needles you need to make friends with. Crewels (classic embroidery needles), Chenilles, Tapestry and Beading needles. For more information about embroidery needles click here.
Jacqueline’s Top Tip … once you’re ready to start for real, cut the thread the length of your forearm (from fingertips to elbow). This will make sure the pieces aren’t too long which minimises twists or knots as you stitch. If the thread gets fluffy, starts thinning or dull-looking as you’re working, that’s your cue to switch to a fresh piece.