How to select a needle

Where do you start?

What task/project are you going to do? The task determines the type of needle you will need.

  • General sewing and mending tasks
  • Embroidery
  • Cross stitch and Needlepoint
  • Projects such as Beading have needles named after a Beading needle. 
  • Quilter's have many tasks. They bury stray thread tails. Sew on bindings. Embellish with Redwork. Tie them with yarn. All of those tasks require different a Quilting needle isn't the only Quilter's needle.

Learn more by searching by tasks:

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Just want to sew on a button?

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.

  • Personal preference dictates the length and diameter. If you only get one needle, get a size 6 or 7 Sharp.
  • Needle sizes are just the opposite of what you would expect. A size 8  is smaller than a size 6. A size 12 is really thin and short, while a size 4 is long and thicker. 
  • Different brands vary slightly  in diameter and length and shape of the eye, but for the most part: a size 6 or 4 or 12 is about the same size no matter the brand.

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Embroider pillow cases or towels?

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.

Buy needles for embroidery

Cross stitch?

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. 

  • Use a size 22 Tapestry Needle for size 8 and 11 count Aida 
  • Use a size 24 Tapestry Needle for 14 count Aida  (This is the most common size)
  • Use a size 26 Tapestry Needle for  16 and 18 count Aida
  • Use a size 26 Tapestry for 20 count Aida or for Hardanger projects.

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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.

  • Size 15 seed bead uses size 12 or 13 needle
  • Size 11 seed bead uses size 12 needle
  • Size 8 seed bead uses size 8 or 10 needle

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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.

Buy Needles for Quilting Tasks

Yarn Projects

 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. 

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Machine Needles

Currently I only sell my Spiral Eye side threading machine needle.


Sporting Goods Needles

Fish baiting needles are perfect for getting your line through your bait. 

Spiral Eye Beading Needles work great for Lindy Rigs.

Check out the Unique Needles offered

Threads matter

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.

What about Notions and Tools?

Gadgets make it all easier

See the Notions and Tools available


Check out my resources page for answers to questions not addressed on this website.


More Needle Informaion

What is the the point? Hand sewing needles have different types of points.

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.

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Consider your thread type. The eye opening must be large enough for the thread you choose.

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

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If threading for a needle is dificult

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. 

Side threading needles are available on this website.

Traditional needle eyes

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.

Open eyed needles

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.

Specialty needles

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. 

See Unique Needles

What kind of metal do you want?

  • Most needles are made from steel that is then plated with either nickel. 
  • The plating protects the steel from rusting and makes the needle smooth.  
  • Sometimes a gold plating is added to the eye to make it extra slippery and easier to thread. 
  • All plating will wear of eventually. 
  • They are far less expensive to manufacture so you can replace them easily.

Pictured are SENCH side threading needles

Hypoallergenic needles

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.

Pictured are Spiral Eye side threading 


or for traditional eyed needles

Shop for all hypoallergenic needles in our product categories.

Still confused?

Ask yourself these basic questions: 

Do you have special requirements?

  • Are you allergic to nickel? If your fingers itch and peel and your eyes get red when you sew a lot, chances are you have a reaction to the nickel plating in your needles. Look for Hypoallergenic needles like the 100% surgical grade stainless steel needles.
  • Do you leave your needles in your projects for long periods of time?  Traditional needles with eventually rust and leave marks in your project. Stainless steel needles will not rust.
  • Do you have depth perception issues? Side threading needles are so easy to thread you can do it blindfolded.
  • Do you have low vision, macular degeneration, presbyopia...or just struggle to see that tiny hole in a needle? Either pick needles with larger eyes, like embroidery needles or Chenille needles. Or go for the side threading threading of Spiral Eye Needles or SENCH needles.
  • Have arthritis or have difficulty with holding onto the needle? Try a size 4 or larger Sharp needle.

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.

  • Heavy duty, blue jean, or button thread might not fit into the slot in the smaller size Spiral Eye Needles. Look for size 4 sharp or larger if you want a side threading needle.
  • Embroidery floss: Most people use two or three strands of floss. This can be difficult to put into a traditional eye because the three ends fray. Side threading needles can thread multiple threads simply. 
  • Pearl Cotton thread balls  (aka Perle Cotton) comes in different weights. 3., 5, 8, & 12 . 12 is the thinnest and compares to heavy duty thread. Size 3 is the heaviest and needs a needle with a larger eye. Most people using Pearl Cotton are going to want either a Chenille point needle or a Tapestry point needle. The size of the thread will determine the size of the needle, regardless if it is a side threading needle or a traditional eye needle.
  • Yarn requires a much bigger eye. The fact that it frays as you try to put it into a traditional eye makes this a perfect candidate for a side threading needle. The size 13 Tapestry or size 13 Chenille hold 4 ply craft yarn.
  • Ribbon requires a longer eye. Embroidery needles work well for that. Match the width of the ribbon to the description of the eye opening.

Do you care if it is made in America?

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.)

Do you even need an easy to thread needle?

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.