Thursday, 22 May 2008

The Crafters' Way 49 - Get to the Point

Each week I write a Craft Column for a local paper. Here is this weeks.

We are all familiar with the sewing needle. The long thin tool with the pointed end? That about sums needles up however, the importance of the correct needle is often underrated. In a nutshell it is important to use a needle that is small enough to pass through without slicing the fabric and large enough for you chosen thread. The variety of needles can be overwhelming. I’ll try and clarify the purposes of the more common needles.

Sharps are for general hand sewing e.g. putting up a hem, sewing on a button. They have a sharp point, a round eye.They can be purchased in a variety of sizes. The larger the number, the smaller the needle.

Crewel or Embroidery needles are similar to sharps except they have a longer eye. This helps when threading multiple strands and allows the threads to lie flat when being pulled through the fabric. If you find that your threads are twisted on the top of your work, check your choice of needle. The names are interchangeable, some manufacturers market them as embroidery needles, others as crewel.

Betweens or Quilters needles are shorter with a small round eye. Their smaller size makes it easier to work fine stitches through multiple fabric layers.

Tapestry needles have blunt points and larger eyes. They are also available in a variety of sizes. Consider the count of your fabric and the thickness of thread/yarn when selecting the correct tapestry needle. You can also purchase double ended Tapestry needles. This allows you to work with both hands and minimizes the thread twisting. Don’t be tempted to use a sharp for this type of handiwork, the sharp point will tear the canvas.

Millners or Straw needles are much longer needles with smaller eyes. They are useful for basting and pleating. These are the needle that you would use for bullion stitch. The needle is the same width throughout its length. This allows the stitch to slide off end and sit properly.

This is not an exhaustive list, there are speciality needles for every craft project. When next you are shopping for supplies stop for a moment and consider the needle.

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