Which Needles

Hello everyone

Hope your week is going well?  This week I want to talk about embroidery needles, which is the “best” and which one should you use.  Needles are so very important in our embroidery – they can make all the difference between a pleasurable and not so pleasurable stitching experience.

I personally have lots of different types and brands of needles – so in the last few weeks I decided to address this issue for myself.  I have tested and researched what is considered to be the best needle and the best brand and possibly contrary to popular opinion these are my findings.

I should mention that needles are a deeply personal preference and what I consider to be the right needle might not necessarily suit you,  but hopefully this guide will be helpful.  Mary Corbet of Needle N Thread has addressed needles in depth over the years so if you search her site for needles you can also find lots of helpful information there.

In the past the good needles were English made needles, but these days like so many other things they are generally made in China.  So if you purchase English needles the chances are that they are distributed but not manufactured in England.


As you know I use sharps needles for all my embroidery project.  The reason behind this is:

  1. A sharps needle has a rounded eye which is easy to thread (and I am terrible at threading needles:))
  2. It has a short shaft.  The shorter length is easier to control when creating small accurate stitches.  It allows for a stabbing motion rather than the scooping motion used for sewing.  Using a long needle causes stress on your arm and shoulder because of the scooping motion.  Because we work with out fabric taut in a hoop it is practical to use a stabbing motion.


Source John James Needles.

So we have established two important factors:  the rounded eye and the short shaft.  The rounded eye should be smooth on the inside so that the thread can pass through easily and of course the shaft should also be fine, smooth, and have a nice sharp point which passes smoothly through the fabric without snagging.  I have found that some needle points tend to snag and catch on the fabric when passing through – you can feel this by running your finger along the point.


The third factor is that the needle will feel comfortable to you.  I find that I tend to go back again and again to my favorite needles and this tells me that it is the right one for me.  So having testing out every major brand that I am aware of including: Japanese Tulip needles, Pony, Richard Hemming, Clover, and S.Thomas & Sons these are the two I like best:

John James Gold Eye Applique Size 10.

These are distributed by Entaco Limited in England.  The 18K gold eye with a nickel plated shaft does make a difference.  They glide through the fabric and are a joy to use.  The needles are now called Gold’n Glide Applique rather than Sharps, which is confusing, possibly due to the fact that more quilters use these needles than embroiderers?  Not sure what the reason is but the Applique needle in the John James collection is the equivalent of a Sharps.



Bohin Sharps Size 10

This is a new discovery, manufactured in France and I love them!  It is a plain, nickel plated needle with a round, very  smooth eye, soooo much easier to thread!   It has a short, smooth shaft with an exceptional polish that glides through the fabric.  The point is fine and sharp,  but smooth it does not snag.  Nothing fancy, no gold,  just a really good quality needle. 

It feels solid in my hand and I have noticed that it does not seem to tarnish, ever, and also does not bend.  I tend to use a new needle for every project because it tarnishes or bends,  sometimes I replace my needle during a project if necessary but with the Bohin needle I don’t need to, in fact I think twice about discarding it when the project is complete because it looks like new, like it has never been used!


Needles packed  in Soft Cloth – no plastic!


So what is the difference between Bohin and other needles?  Well I did a bit of research and this is what I discovered:  “The last surviving French manufacturer of pins and needles: BOHIN France! Nestled on the riverbank, this factory is still in operation, working with the same ancient expertise and old machines as those used in times gone by.”  So perhaps it has something to do with the “ancient expertise”?

I am so impressed with Bohin needles that they are now available in my shop.    I have two sizes available:  size 10 for 1 – 2 strands of DMC stranded cotton and No 9 for 2 – 3 strands of cotton or DMC floche.

For those who have been waiting for Chloe & Great Horned owl – they  are back in stock.

Till next time, wherever you are in the world, keep smiling and happy stitching.






12 thoughts on “Which Needles”

  1. Thank you Trish for your review of needles. When you get a bad needle you realize how important they are. I haven’t tried the Richard Hemming but have used John James for regular embroidery and Bohin which I seem to prefer for more precise stitching. It makes it even better to learn that they’re actually made in France.

  2. I’m so happy that you’ve discovered Bohin needles! I’ve been using Bohin crewel 10s for needlepainting for many years. I also find that they last a long time. I usually lose the needle before it wears out. Although Bohins are my current favourites, I have some Tulips waiting to be tested. What do you think of Tulip needles for needlepainting?

    1. Hello Margaret that’s so interesting! I like the tulip needles but they seem to be a bit longer and I cant work out which ones are for needlepainting as they seem to have different names such as silk needles, etc. I have heard good reports and I can imagine anything Japanese would be excellent quality but to be honest they are not my favorites😊

  3. Needles Thank you for your post on needles. It was very interesting. I really learnt something. Happy stitching. Sent from my iPad


  4. I’m new to embroidery- what is the purpose of having several needles in use on the same project? I have seen many pictures of little magnets holding 3-4 needles on a work.

    Thank- you!! I love all things TB!

    1. Hi Lynne firstly if you are referring to “parking your needles” don’t do it! Having several needles threaded up and parking them to the side whilst you work with one needle and then going back to the next needle is not only very confusing and messy but nigh impossible if you need to unpick any section of your work. Thread one needle and work with one colour at a time. If you mean that you have seen a few different needles in use – it could be that the stitcher is using a size 10 for one strand and a size 9 for 2 strands – I keep mine parked in the side of my fabric out the way.

      Feel free to ask any questions – I hope this helps😊

  5. This is a great article, thank you Trish. Very informative. I do like the needles in your special, beautiful packaging. Are they Bohin?

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