Using Specialty Needles in Embroidery

 Wing Needle Butterflies from

Specialty needles create special effects--especially in your embroidery where they're least expected. Wing needles separate fibers, piercing little holes in fabric. Why on earth would you want holes in your fabric? Because with wing needles, you get gorgeous stitches and textures from special machine embroidery designs.


Also known as hemstitch needles, wing needles started out as a specialty needle used for heirloom sewing. They come in a variety of sizes, like 100/16 or 120/19, and even as double needles.

Wide wings spread fabric fibers, allowing for decorative stitching from the center. The bigger the number, the larger the needle and the larger the hole that will be punched in your fabric.

 Wing Needle Butterflies from

Designs like my Wing Needle Butterflies, are specially digitized to stitch with a wing needle. Only their background uses the wing needle. The rest of the design is stitched with a standard 75/11 embroidery needle. The directions tell you when to change the needle. The decorative stitch adds a little dimension to the background that you don't see just anywhere.

Wing Needle Safety Check 

Before you start sewing or embroidering with a wing needle, turn the hand wheel one full rotation toward you before hitting the start button. Make sure it goes up and down without any resistance.

If it is clear, you're good to go and you can start sewing. If it clunks, you know that the needle is not seated all the way up so go ahead and loosen the screw and readjust.

Fabrics for Wing Needle Embroidery 

The best fabrics to show off wing needle stitching are 100% cotton linen. Plain cotton also works, but the decorative stitches will not open up quite as well as they do with linens.

 Wing Needle Butterflies from

Wing Needle Butterflies have options to use numerous color combinations if you like.

Heirloom Wing Needle Butterflies from

You can also stitch them using all white or tone-on-tone threads for more of a vintage, heirloom effect.

Stabilizers for Wing Needle Embroidery

Use a fabric-type water-soluble stabilizer because you don't want any stabilizer to stay on the back of that beautiful wing needlework. You could also use a heat-away film that melts away when ironed.

You can see the full video here.

May your day be blessed with perfect stitches and GlitterFlex!!

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  • Bonnie Welsh - May 20, 2022

    Barbara—Yes! The design needs to be digitized for use with a wing needle. Also, the instructions should tell you where in the design to use a wing needle versus a standard embroidery needle. My Wing Needle Butterflies is digitized for wing needle work.

  • Barbara Guthrie - May 20, 2022

    Do you have to use special designs for the wing needle????

  • Bonnie Welsh - April 11, 2019

    Merilyn—So glad you found these tips helpful! =)

  • Merilyn Schieber - April 11, 2019

    Thanks! This is very helpful, even i am a couple of weeks late in reading it!

  • Bonnie Welsh - March 26, 2019

    Christiane—You’re most welcome! =)

  • Bonnie Welsh - March 26, 2019

    Liz—Yes the wing needle will work on all machines. My best tip is after you insert the needle, be sure to turn it one full rotation by hand to make sure it clears. If it “clunks” and stops, it’s not all the way in. Once it rotates smoothly, then you can hit the “go” button. I always use this method with a regular sewing (non-embroidery) machine as well. =)

  • Christiane - March 25, 2019

    Un grand merci pour ce partage

  • Liz - March 23, 2019

    Will the wing needle work on all machines? I have a Baby Lock embroidery machine

  • Bonnie Welsh - March 20, 2019

    Maria—Please let us know what you think. We’d love to hear how your experience goes. =)

  • Bonnie Welsh - March 20, 2019

    Ardiss—Oh bring out that needle and play! It’s lots of fun and you’ll have fun creating texture on your fabrics. =)

  • Maria - March 19, 2019

    Can’t wait to try using

  • Ardiss Kunze - March 19, 2019

    I have the needle just haven’t used it

  • Bonnie Welsh - March 19, 2019

    Ahhhhhhh, thanks Anna. =) I’m right here any time you need a “fix”. =)

  • Anna Blake - March 19, 2019

    Very pretty Bonnie. Sure miss your weekly tips. But I love these.

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