Yesterday I had a few questions about needles so I thought I'd write a post on the subject.
There are probably a bazillion needle manufacturers out there ... and I never exaggerate. But my favorite needles are from Jeana Kimball.
If you know anything about marketing, you would label me as a "brand loyal" sort of person. Jeana's got needles for all my sewing needs, the quality is really nice, I never have trouble with them, I can find them locally ... and plus I totally love the cute little cases they come in.
Basically, I have four "styles" of needles in my sewing arsenal...
(not including the weird curved upholstery and super long soft sculpture needles from a bear-making class I took like 15 years ago)
... each for different uses. Sharps, Straws, Betweens & Embroidery. (Keep reading for an explanation of each.)
As with other manufacturers, Jeana's needles are sized according to length. Don't ask me why, but the bigger the number, the smaller the size. I'm sure there's a very logical explanation for this nomenclature ... however my curiousity simply never proded me to spend time researching the answer.
Also, it's important to know that a #size of one type does NOT translate to the same size in another type.
For example, see the difference between a size 11 Straw and a size 11 Betweens?
Does Size Really Matter?
That depends. ;) Lemme 'splain.
If you find yourself trying a new sewing method and aren't sure what size needle to use, I know Jeana sells Sampler Packs - an envelope with one of each size of that type of needle. The fact that Jeana and other manufacturers actually SELL Sampler Packs should tell you something. I suggest getting one of these packs and trying out the different sizes. Some people really don't care. But I've found that most stitchers who end up spending a lot of time with a needle in hand will develop size preferences based on everything from the task to the size of their hand to their technique.
This is my basic "go-to" needle for general things like mending, reattaching buttons, that sort of thing. I'm not really picky about size with these ... whatever I have on hand usually does the job.
Although you can rest assured that I've used Straw needles to hem pants and Betweens to sew on a button ... most of the time my mending needle is the first one I pull out of my pin cushion! LOL! Major bonus for me if it's already threaded with the right color. ;)
At the moment it seems I have a package of size 9 Sharps in my drawer.
I seem to go through a lot of these. Not sure why. I think there's an invisible needle black hole somewhere in my house. My husband used to find them with his feet ... a lot. But since becoming a mom I'm better at keeping track of them ... sorta.
I only use these for applique. They are thinner and tend to bend - which is a good thing for applique work. I like size 11.
I've heard more than once they work great for hand-stitching quilt binding.
These are designed for hand quilting. Whereas Straw needles are very thin & therefore bendy, Betweens are thicker and much less flexible because they need to endure a lot of pressure from the thimble and being loaded with multiple, heavy stitches. And after a lot of use, however, my Betweens will still develop a slight bend.
Again, size 11 is my preference.
I used to buy 11s but now I find my poor aging hands are more comfortable with the slightly longer 10s.
I think it's kinda funny that I used 3 of my 4 needle types just for this one project:
Embroidery for the embroidery ...
Straw for the applique ...
and Betweens for the hand quilting ...
(omg, I am SO not winning any ribbons for my hand quilting! I'm totally rusty.)
I also used 3 different threads ... but I'm not nearly as well versed on threads as I am on needles ... and I only know what I know about needles because I took courses on how to use these the particular ones.
So don't ask me about syringes or body piercing. ;)