• Needles 101

What IS the Point?

Hand sewing needles have different types of points for different tasks.

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Sharps

Basic, general sewing needles. The points are sharper so they go into the material easily. Used for basic hemming, mending, quilting, embroidery work, etc.

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Chenille Needles

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.

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Tapestry Needles

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.

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Specialty Needles

The SE-1 was the original Spiral Eye design – it has a sharp point and does not have a taper eye into the shaft of the needle. Beading needles are a special needle made as thin of a diameter as is possible and have a blunt point.

Sharps

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

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

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.

Specialty Needles

The SE-1 was the original Spiral Eye design – it has a sharp point and the eye portion is exactly the same diameter as the shaft.

Beading needles are a special needle made as thin of a diameter as is possible.

Fish Baiting Needles are a special needle made out of stainless steel so they won’t rust in your tackle box and are a thin diameter so they injure but do not kill the bait.

Compare Materials

Needles are more than just a piece of wire with a point and an eye.

The material your needle is made from matters. While the vast majority of hand sewing needles are made from nickel plated steel, there are other options. Here are the pro and cons.

Nickel Plated Needles

Iron wire is cut to length and the eye is stamped into it. Because iron will rust, they plate the needle with another smooth shiny metal, most often Nickel. This works fine unless you have an allergy to nickel. Sometimes needles will be plated with with titanium or gold.

SENCH needles have the eyes plated with gold to help identify which end has the point and which end has the eye. Gold plating on the eye also makes the hole more slippery to aid in inserting the thread.

No matter what, the plating will wear off and the exposed iron will rust. This can leave marks on your material. Iron also makes the needle more brittle, so it is likely to snap and break under pressure.

NOTE: In the olden days people would use the little strawberry thing hanging on the side of the tomato pincushion to knock the rust off of their needle and to sharpen the point. You cannot sharpen plated needles, but you can sharpen stainless steel needles.

Spiral Eye Needles in three sizes

Surgical Grade Stainless Steel

Stainless steel needles are hypoallergenic and will never rust. They also tend to be stronger and not as brittle, so they do not snap and break like nickel plated steel needles.

Spiral Eye Needles are made from Surgical Grade Stainless Steel. Surgical grade stainless steel needles can be sharpened without exposing them to potential rust because there is not plating to wear off.

Compare Self Threading Needles

What are the differences in easy-to-thread needles?

They go by all sorts of names. Self threading, easy threading, side threading, Calyx eye, French spring eye, Spiral Eye, SENCH, and the One Second Needle. What is the difference?

On the left: This is easy thread needle that has been around since 1850. In the medical industry it is called the French Eye. In the craft industry it is called the self threading or Calyx eye needle. You thread it by pulling a loop of thread down from the top and into the first hole. The second hole is created by the bridge they use to keep the needle eye stay closed as you sew with it. Unfortunately, your thread may shred as you thread your needle. It often times comes unthreaded as you sew. And the top points tend to hurt your finger if you push the needle when you stitch. They are made from nickel plated steel.

Next: is the side threading needle. SENCH brand side threading needles have a gold plated eye to help you know which end has the point and which has the eye. They are made from traditional needle manufacturing processes using nickel plated steel. They are easy to thread and stay threaded as you sew.

The Spiral Eye Needle is a side threading needle as well. The slot goes into a channel that goes past a “stop bump” that locks your thread inside the eye. It also is there to strengthen the eye.

On the right is the One Second Needle. In 2010 Pam licensed the rights to her patent to Telebrands, the as seen on TV company, who sold a side threading needle called the One Second Needle. It was very large, made of unknown metal and the geometry was not kept so they tended to catch on your material. They was sold in all the stores and came with a small red box full of little notions. It has been discontinued.