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Using the correct needles in a cross stitch project is extremely important – you can't just pick out a random set! There are countless types of sewing needles, each of which could damage your counted fabric, stranded cottons or cross stitch designs.
Fundamentally, there are only three types of needles you'll need for cross stitch: Chenille Needles, Crewel Needles and Tapestry Needles. These needles have larger eyes than sewing needles and are specifically designed to work with and protect stranded cottons and counted fabrics.
Tapestry Needles are used for general stitching, while Chenille Needles and Crewel Needles are used to stitch intricate details.
The key thing to remember when buying cross stitch needles is this: the larger the stated size of the needle, the thinner the needle and the smaller the eye. This means, for example, that a size 20 needle is thinner than a size 14 needle. As a general guide, you should choose needles that are a tad smaller than the square holes or thread spaces in your fabric.
Tapestry Needles are used for general counted cross stitch due to their blunt, round tips with large eyes. Cross stitch fabric has large holes to stitch into, so piercing with a sharp needle isn't necessary – the blunt tip simply passes between the threads or finds the square holes for a more even stitch. These needles are available in a range of sizes between 14 and 26.
Chenille Needles are long, thick and sharp with large eyes, identical to Tapestry Needles in terms of length and diameter, but far more pointed. Available in sizes between 14 and 26, these needles are especially ideal for ribbon embroidery, as well as techniques using heavy thread and surface embroidery that requires a sharp point.
Crewel Needles (or 'Embroidery Needles') are sharp and pointed, similar to Chenille Needles, however are shorter and thinner with slightly lengthened eyes. Available in sizes between 1 and 10, these needles are ideal for crewel work and surface embroidery that involves piercing through fabric threads.
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