The more I sew, the more I realise how essential it is to have the right needle for the job in hand. Whether you are hand sewing or machine sewing, the work can become twice as long and difficult, or even impossible, if you don’t use the appropriate needle. I am still learning, and I’ll try and share more about this as I go, for those of you who are as confused as I was (and still continue to be, sometimes).
But I wanted to share one of the lessons I have learned.
For ages I have ignored those teeny-tiny needles… you know, the ones you see and think, how can anyone even pick that up off the table, let alone thread it and sew with it? Well, I’ve discovered that not only can I pick them up (and thread them, most of the time!) they have actually become indispensable.
A year or so ago, I read someone, somewhere recommending Sharps needles size 10, 11 or 12 for hand stitching shapes when English paper piecing. At the time I was really frustrated with how hard I was finding it to pick up just a couple of threads of fabric when sewing hexagons together (one the essentials for beautiful invisible piecing), so I thought I would check them out. When they came I was stunned – they were SO tiny. But I quickly realised (obvious really) that they are brilliant for doing tiny invisible stitches wherever you need them (stitching binding, sewing turning gaps closed, hemming a floaty skirt, you know the kind of thing). And if you get a good brand, they just glide through the fabric with minimal effort, and stitching seems to fly by. The needles that I used to use seem heavy and clumsy in comparison.
So once you have plucked up the nerve to take up the tiny needle, you need to make sense of all the brands… and it seems there are as many recommendations as there are stitchers. Bohn, Clover (especially Black Gold), John James and Tulip all have their fans – here’s a fab little article at Sew Mama Sew about the search for the best hand sewing needle – so it makes sense to experiment until you find something you really like. I spotted Kerry recommending the Foxglove Cottage range from Jeana Kimble, so I thought that was a good a place as any to start, so I bought this little taster kit, which I’m still using, and I’m really pleased with.
As usual with sewing, one purchase leads to another, and I’ve had to increase the size of my tool kit still further… these little needles can really give you a sore finger as you push them through the fabric, so a thimble has become a necessity. And the reading glasses too, so I can see what the heck I am doing!
Do you have particular favourite needles? Or do you just reach for the nearest that looks about the right size for the job? Can you make head or tail of the different sizes and names – Sharps, Betweens, Straw? I’d love to read your experiences.
This post is another in my ongoing bloggy series on my favourite sewing tools… Sewing Tools of Note.