Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To the Point: Knowing What Needle to Use

Like so many things in life, a successful outcome is the result of many things falling into place or achieving a harmony. In embroidery, you need the right tension, backing, thread, needles etc. in order to achieve success; it requires a perfect balance. Luckily, with embroidery, this isn’t difficult to obtain, unlike, say world peace?

So, we’re going to start off on explaining the difference between needle types. There are primarily two types of needles: Ballpoint and Sharp, which is then further broken down into Round shank or Flat Sided Needles.

Ballpoint Needles have a rounded point to prevent cutting into the fabric when embroidering. They’re used for knitted fabrics such as t-shirts, lingerie, fleece, sweatshirt material and finely knit sweaters – basically anything you don’t want a big hole in.

Sharp Point Needles have a sharp point to allow the needle to cut through tightly woven fabrics when embroidering. They’re used for twill, denim, canvas, caps and broadcloth – usually any type of fabric that is thick or stiff, which would require more pressure in order to penetrate the fabric.

Round Shank needles have a round shank and are commonly used on commercial embroidery machines.

Flat Sided Needles are flat on one side of the shank and are commonly used on home/non-commercial embroidery machines.

We’ve covered the type of needles to use based on the type of material you plan on embroidering onto, but what about which needle size to use? Depending on the thread weight that you plan to use for your project, that will determine the needle size that you need to use. Below is a chart of the recommended needle for each of our thread weights.

Helpful Tip: The smaller the needle used, the smaller the penetration hole. Using the smallest needle recommended for each thread type will give you the optimal, best looking design. It’s recommended that new embroiderers use the larger or middle size needle recommended. As you gain more experience, moving down to the smaller needle may improve the look of your embroidery.

Happy Embroidering,
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