Selected vendor: Homestead Needle Arts - MI

Needle Selection for Hand Embroidery

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Allison Aller answers a common question: “Which needle should I use for hand embroidery on cotton fabric?”

Needle selection is a major contributor to your happiness factor, whether you are hand or machine stitching. Using an incorrect needle will cause a thread to fray, knot, and otherwise misbehave. Many of the problems people have with thread can be solved by needle selection. The problem isn't necessarily the thread, but rather a too-thin needle, a needle with a bad eye, a needle with a too-small eye, or something similar. So "which needle should I use" is a great question.

Needle Sizes to use with Kreinik Metallic Threads

Allie says: As a rule, I use needles with eyes that are larger and shafts a bit thicker than might be needed for regular threads. Because these are metallics, I don’t want any tension to stretch the thread or too small an eye to cause them to fray as I am stitching with them. This also makes for easy threading — you don’t want a fight when you are threading up.

  • Kreinik Cord—is very fine, but still I use a #8 Embroidery needle. I don’t want any tension to stretch the thread or cause it to fray, so I use a slightly bigger needle than I normally would for this weight of thread.
  • Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid: #22 Chenille. Again, the eye is larger than needed but the shaft of the needle makes a large enough hole that there is no resistance to the thread. This size needle is easy to thread as well—you don’t want to fight that.
  • Kreinik Fine #8 Braid: #20 Chenille is good for this size.
  • Kreinik Tapestry #12 Braid: 18 Chenille
  • Kreinik Medium #16 Braid: #18 Chenille
  • Kreinik 1/16” ribbon: I like a #18 Chenille or Darner.
  • Kreinik 1/8” ribbon: #14 Chenille or Darner

Your goal is to have a clean (not rusty), fully operational (no burrs in the eye) needle with an eye large enough to accommodate the thread, but not too large that it creates too big of a hole in your fabric. Experiment on your own pairing Crewel needles, Tapestry needles, Chenille needles, and Darner needles with Kreinik threads and your chosen fabrics to find the perfect fit.

Allison is an award-winning quilt designer, teacher, and writer. She specializes in crazy quilts, and has extensive knowledge of embroidery. For more information on Allison, visit or check quilt stores and for her books. She's @alliealler on Instagram.

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