Which needle should I use?

Recently emailed question: “What needle I should use for hand embroidery on quilting cottons using a #4 Metallic Braid and #8 Metallic Braid?”

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.

The Education section on www.kreinik.com features an article about the best needle size for each Kreinik thread in cross stitch and needlepoint (click here for that chart: http://www.kreinik.com/shops/Needle-Selection-Chart.html, but we didn't have a chart for those of you doing embroidery, crazy quilting, or quilting on cotton fabrics. So we asked crazy quilt expert Allison Aller to list which needles she uses with Kreinik threads on cotton quilting fabric. Keep this chart handy:

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Kreinik Fine #8 Braid: #20 Chenille is good for this size.
  4. Kreinik Tapestry #12 Braid: 18 Chenille
  5. Kreinik Medium #16 Braid: #18 Chenille
  6. Kreinik 1/16” ribbon: I like a #18 Chenille or Darner.
  7. 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. For a helpful chart showing the difference between these needles, visit www.colonialneedle.com/html/about-needles.html

For more info on Allison Aller, visit her blog at http://alliesinstitches.blogspot.com/ or check out her new book from C&T Publishing "Allie Aller's Crazy Quilting: Modern Piecing & Embellishing Techniques for Joyful Stitching."

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