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What is the difference between machine embroidery needles and regular sewing needles?

Well – who knew?  There IS a difference between regular sewing needles and machine embroidery needles. I was studying my book, Machine Embroidery on Difficult Fabrics by  Deborah Jones and in it she describes the difference between regular sewing needles and machine embroidery needles.

(Brief point of admission here… I didn’t know there was a difference. Until I started reading Jones’ book – the only type of needles I was familiar with were ballpoint needles, regular sewing needles and denim needles).

So here’s the difference… embroidery needles have a larger eye which allows the thread to pass through more readily. Today when embroidering (using regular sewing needles) I had a couple of moments where there were some loose stitches. Was it because of my inappropriate needle choice?

One great point that Ms. Jones makes about needles is – if needle type did not make a difference then why would manufactures sell so many different types?

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What type of needle should I use when embroidering on knit fabrics?

I am embarrassed to say that I never gave much thought to the type of needle I used when doing machine embroidery or sewing for that matter. My philosophy was – if the needle breaks, then replace it.

A sewing instructor once advised that if your thread breaks three times, it’s probably a pretty good indication that your needle needs to be replaced. Great advice.  But that was the limit to my sewing needle knowledge.

As I have begun doing more embroidery on knit fabrics I have learned of the importance of using a ballpoint needle when working with knit fabrics.  A regular needle is designed to pierce the fabric, but a ballpoint needle spreads the fibers away from one another keeping the knit structure intact.   Using a ballpoint needle on knits improves the look of your design when embroidering on knit fabrics.

Check out these helpful resources re: needle types.