Supplies for Big (and little) Stitches: Needles & Threaders (part 2)

A bit ago, I shared a little about Supplies for Big Stitches (part 1), I shared a little bit about my favorite quilting hoops, batting, and thimbles.  Today, we're talking about my favorite needles and needle threaders.


Finding your favorite quilting needles is going to be a matter of trial and error.  You might hear that a size 10 betweens needle is the perfect quilting needle, but...

...that doesn't mean it will be perfect for you.

You want to find a needle that you can handle comfortably and confidently.

With needles, the key to remember is that the smaller the number, the larger the needle.

I've probably mentioned many times that I have sensory dysfunction due to multiple sclerosis, so this definitely affects my choice of needles.  I have six or seven packs of size 10 needles (that I just found a new home for) because I kept thinking I really was just going to get the hang of using that size needle.

I have several issues with the size 10 betweens, but my biggest problem using them is that I can't feel the needle in my hand (either the one holding the needle, or the one I'm shoving it straight into).  When it is hard to feel the needle, I have trouble figuring out where the needle is going, so it just isn't my fancy.  But it might be yours.  The only way you'll find out is trying to find what works best for you.

My needle choices are usually large-eyed betweens in size 3, size 4, and size 5 from Richard Hemming & Son, because that's what I find at my local Pacific Fabrics store in Bremerton for about $2.29 per pack.  I also pick up John James Gold'n Glide needles if I run across them.  Both of these brands of needles seem to move smoothly through my fabric and batting.

You might want to try a multi-pack of betweens (such as sizes 3/9) to see which you prefer before you buy packs in all one size.  You can find Richard Hemming and John James needles online in a variety of sizes and styles through Colonial Needle.

I buy large-eye needles because I do a lot of my hand stitching at night.  I'd rather just get my needle threaded and move on.  This is also helpful if I am using a perle cotton thread.

My next little tidbit regarding working with needles:

When your needle is dull, replace it!  

Or if your needles look like these, maybe it's time to grab a new one:

You'll know when your needle is dull because it is a bit harder to push it up through the fabric.  I think my mama had the same pack of needles her entire adult life.  I can't imagine how much easier it would've been to work with a sharp needle.

Needle Threader

A needle threader isn't absolutely necessary, but it certainly makes life easier.

A long handle needle threader is easier to hold onto, and doesn't fall apart as easily as the small metal threaders you might find included in your packs of needles.  This is a great option and only costs about $4.

Dritz needle threaders can be found at the fabric store and are a fantastic option, but if you can't find them, or even if you can, check the dental hygiene aisle at your local store.  Both GUM and DenTek sell floss threaders (designed for use with braces and dental implants) that are just as effective and may or may not cost less than the needle threaders.  They work in the same manner and just facilitate needle threading very quickly.

Another great option that I keep in my hand applique sewing kit is a Clover Desk Needle Threader.

I'm all for anything that makes my sewing more simple.  I use all of these tools depending on my thread and needle choices.

We've still got thread and marking tools to talk about, and I've got plenty to say about both.  So stay tuned for more ramblings about these notions.

I'd love to hear what works for you.  Do you have a favorite brand or size of quilting needle?