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How to Cross Stitch 2: Needles

May 12, 2020

This is part 2 in a series designed to teach you everything you need to know about starting the art of cross stitching. If you have missed a step, please check this page to find it.

If you prefer tutorials in video form, here's the needle video


While you're out getting your aida and your floss, you might as well get some needles to go with them! This is probably going to be the shortest entry in this series, but despite its length, it's still very important.

I'm also going to readily admit that this isn't really something I knew until recently. I used to buy embroidery needles and guess at what size and deal with it. This actually worked really well, though I will admit that once I learned about the proper needles, the act of cross stitching got easier, so I recommend that, if you're just starting out or if you're getting back into it, get the right needles.

First of all, cross stitching is supposed to be done with tapestry needles. I found this out about six months ago while I was at my daughter's Junior Embroidery League meeting (it's kind of a family thing). One of the women took time to explain why tapestry needles are the best choice.

I'll start this section with a really poorly drawn picture of a comparison between an embroidery and tapestry needle. The tapestry needle is on the left.

The tapestry needle is, in comparison to other needles, a blunt needle. The reason that it's used for cross stitching is so that you don't run the risk of pushing through your strands and causing a knot. That's not to say you won't ever do that, because I do it all the time, but it's much less common with a tapestry needle.

The other reason we use these is because of the size of their eyes. Tapestry needles have much larger eyes than embroidery needles. Depending on the size of the needle, that eye can fit the whole piece of floss. It's tough, but you can do it.

Now needles come in sizes which is a little weird when you're just starting out. The size of needle determines both how thick it is and how long it is. When choosing a needle, the size of your evenweave determines the needle, but if you find that the recommended needle is too big, you can always go smaller. With needles, the larger the number, the smaller the needle. 

Here's a quick table to decide what needles to use:

Needle Size Cloth Count
18 6 count
20 8 count
22 12 count
24 14-16 count
26 18 count
28 20+ count

Always get a pack with 3 or more needles because you never know what's going to happen, though you want to do everything you can to ensure that you finish a cross stitch piece with a single needle. Sometimes, you can see where you changed needles, but that's also sometimes unavoidable.

Back to How to Cross Stitch

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