What task/project are you going to do? The task determines the type of needle you will need.
Learn more by searching by tasks:
General Sewing Needles are also called "Sharps". They are the go-to needle for basic mending tasks. They have a sharp point and a thin diameter.
Embroidery work on cotton material using two or more embroidery floss uses a "Sharp" needle. But if you want more than a few strands of embroidery floss or use the heavier Pearl Cotton thread you might want an Embroidery Eye Needle or a Chenille Needle.
You want a blunt point on the needle for tasks where you want to make sure the needle does not split the threads of the material. Blunt needles are called Tapestry Needles. The size of the holes in the material generally dictates the size needle you want.
Aida is a common material for Counted Cross stitch.
Sewing Seed beads requires super thin needles. The diameter needs to be smaller than the hole in the bead. Beading needles are blunt, but if you are sewing your bead onto cloth you will want a Sharp.
Because threading such tiny eyes is a problem, there are even beading needles that have a slit n the center of the needle that can expand to allow larger thread into it. Spiral Eye Beading needle has a small slot on the side of the eye for the thread to slip into.
Quilting requires a variety of needle types.
The name, "Quilting needles" usually refers to short thin needles that quilters use to do the "rocking stitch." Quilting Needles are also called "Betweens". A size 12 Between is a short size 12 sharp.
To bury thread tails, you will want a side threading needle. If you bury lots of threads, you will want a sturdier Chenille size 24 Chenille Spiral Eye Needle. If you only bury a few tails, bury them using a size 6 Spiral Eye Needle.
Sew on a binding? Use a Sharp needle that feels great in your hand. Often times that is a size 8 or 10. Some people like a size 12. I personally like a size 6 Spiral Eye Needle.
Yarn needles have much larger eyes to accommodate the heaviness of yarn. Yarn is made up multiple threads that fray as you try to put it into the eye so there are tricks to threading into that hole. Or you can try a Spiral Eye side threading yarn needle. It has an opening on the side of the eye, so the fraying is not an issue.
Currently I only sell my Spiral Eye side threading machine needle.
Fish baiting needles are perfect for getting your line through your bait.
Spiral Eye Beading Needles work great for Lindy Rigs.
Consider the thread you will be using. Larger threads take larger eyed needles. Look for Chenille needles if you want a sharp point, or Tapestry needles for a blunt point.
Gadgets make it all easier
Check out my resources page for answers to questions not addressed on this website.
Sharps are the basic General Sewing Needles. The points are sharper so they go into the material easily. Used for basic hemming, mending, quilting, embroidery work, etc.
Chenille needles also have a sharp point. They have a slightly larger eye for heavier threads. The also tend to have a larger diameter shaft, so they are stronger needles. Used for projects that use heavier threads or things like ribbon.
Tapestry Needles have a blunt point and are used for projects such as Counted Cross stitch where you want to make sure the needle goes between the weave of the material. Also use for paper projects where the whole is pre-punched as well as plastic grid projects & embellishing.
Beading needles are a special needle made as thin of a diameter as is possible and have a blunt point.
General sewing thread is around four thousand's of an inch thick.The typical eye of a needle will easily accommodate it.
Embroidery floss comes in sets of six strands. You can use two or three strands at a time in most general sewing needle, but to use all 6 strands you need a bigger eye...see Embroidery eye or Side Threading needle eye.
Button thread, blue jean thread, heavier metallic thread...these need to have bigger eyes to allow the thicker threads into the eye.
Pearl Cotton is a heavier thread that comes in balls instead of on spools. The size of the needle needed depends on the size of the Pearl Cotton thread.
Size 12 Pearl Cotton is the thinnest.
Size 8 Pearl Cotton is the next size up and it fits in the size 22 needle.
Size 5 Pearl Cotton works in the size 20 needle
4 ply craft yarn will fit in the size 13 needle
Vision changes and dexterity issues can make threading a needle harder. Needle threaders can be difficult to get into that hole you can no longer see. Many people find open eyed needles to be the perfect solution.
Coming soon:Traditional eyes are completely closed. They may be round like the basic sharp needle has on the top. Or they might be long narrow holes like the embroidery eye below. Or anything between, but they are basically a hole stamped out of the end of a sharpened piece of wire.
On the left is the needle referred to as a self-threading needle (also called a calyx eye or a French spring eye). It threads through a tiny break in the eye at the end...between the prong like things on the top. In the middle is the patented side threading eye in a SENCH side threading needle. On the right is the patented Spiral Eye side threading needle.
Learn more on the Compare Needle page.
Coming soon: Leather work sometimes uses Glover's needles or triangular point needles to get through the leather. Sometimes you want a curved needle for doing an upholstery project. Maybe you want a a super long thin needle to sew your line through a fish bait. Specialty needles are offered too.
Stainless steel needles are made from a material used by surgeons so it is hypoallergenic to those with metal allergies. No plating to wear off, they are never going to rust ... so they will not leave a mark in your project.
or for traditional eyed needles
Ask yourself these basic questions:
Do you have special requirements?
What kind of thread are you using? Generally, most projects are going to use one or two strands of basic thread. All of the needles will hold that. But specialty size threads fit better in specialty needles.
Not everyone wants to pay the cost of an American made product. Pam's Original Spiral Eye Side Threading needles are the only hand sewing needles made in America. Made by a small family run business (Dad owns it, Mom does the books, son runs the shop and the dog answers the door.)
If your vision and dexterity allows you to thread a traditional eye needle, you might be happy with the PONY brand traditional eyed needles. Coming soon. Check back later.