Get a professional finish with less problems by using the right needle for the job.
An Eye for Designs
Thread travels through the eye. Universal needles have a much smaller eye than either embroidery or metallic needles, whose elongated eyes help prevent thread from shredding. The eye of a topstitch needle is even larger, which is why many machine embroiderers use them instead of metallic needles and some use them exclusively for machine embroidery.
We normally embroider with 40 wt. thread. Stitching with heavier thread, like 12 wt., means using needles with larger eyes.
Size and Type Matter
Use the smallest needle possible for the job. The larger the needle, as in the larger the number (80/12, 90/14), the bigger the hole that it makes.
Some fabrics are forgiving and return to their original form after stitching, like knits and many cottons. Others, like leather and vinyl, do not. Jess from OklaRoots used an 80/12 needle when embroidering on vinyl.
One Needle Does Not Fit All
Needles come in a variety of shapes and sizes for a reason.
Quilting needles are also wonderful for piecing. Their tapered shape works particularly well when quilting through several layers of fabrics, batting and stabilizers. Sharps are great for woven fabrics and work beautifully when piecing. Many embroiderers use them for crisp applique.
A ballpoint needle gently pushes knit fibers apart rather than cutting through them. Use stretch needles when stitching on items like swimsuits and active wear. For denim, a jeans needle is designed specifically for thicker fabrics.
Some needles are particularly useful when creating beautiful heirloom embroidery, like the background fill on Bonnie’s Wing Needle Butterflies.
The frequency of changing out needles is as varied as the types. Some say change the needle after every eight hours of use, while others say stitch until you notice a problem. Either way, needles are relatively inexpensive when compared to damaging the item you are stitching.
Bonnie’s Needle Keeper lets you know which needle is in the machine as well as how long it has been used.
Often, it is trial and error. See what works for you and keep an embroidery diary so you can get the same results the next time.