My name is Terri Sontra and I am the Head Moose at Purple Moose Designs. I am a pattern designer, an online quilt shop and inventor of a fun game for quilters (Quilter’s Block Party). Today is my turn to be a guest blogger for Tammy of Tamarinis…hmmm…what to talk about…
Tammy has been reminding everyone lately to change your needles. I thought I would take it one step further and do a quick Needles 101 mini-class. First, show of hands, how many of you have only one knife in your kitchen to do all your cooking and prep with? And how many of you only use one kind of needle to do all your different sewing tasks with? I bet most people answered no to the first question and several of you answered yes to the second question. In the kitchen you use different knives for different cutting jobs. Sure you could break down a chicken with a small paring knife but it’s so much easier with a chef’s knife. The same is true of your needles! (ok, quick poll…how many of you actually raised your hands while reading???)
All needles (both hand and machine) have different anatomical parts designed to help them do specific tasks very well. For this post we’ll concentrate on machine needles. You may not realize it but you have a lot in common with your needles. Did you know they have a shoulder? They also have a butt, an eye and they even wear a scarf! Here’s a quick run-down of some of the different needles that all quilters should have in their arsenal.
Topstitch: The topstitch needle has a larger eye and larger groove. This makes it ideal for heavier or decorative threads. It is also made from a sturdy wire so it can handle several layers with ease.
Microtex or Sharp: Microtex have a pointier point which is ideal for penetrating tighter weave fabrics (such as batiks) without piercing the fibers. I use this needle for almost all my piecing.
Quilting: Quilting needles have a tapered point with a slightly rounded tip. This allows it to sew through layers of fabric and batting with ease and will not poke the batting through causing bearding.
Embroidery: These needles have a slightly rounded point and special groove to accommodate metallic and decorative threads. It can also handle the higher speeds usually associated with embroidery machines. Great if you’re working with rayon and polyester threads.
Universals: While all the other needles are designed to do a specific task really well, universals are designed to do most tasks “ok”, hence the name. If you don’t like changing your needles for specific tasks then universals may be for you. If you want your needle to perform at optimum levels, then you should choose specific needles for specific tasks.
One question I get asked a lot (and I do mean A LOT!!) has to do with what size needles you should use. We’ll have to save that for another day though…I’ve run out of room. I do offer an in-depth guild presentation called Needles 101 where we cover types, size and more. It’s not boring…trust me. You learn more when you have fun! I’m pretty cheap and reasonable and I’m willing to travel. Especially if it’s south because I’m in New England and my yard currently has several FEET of snow. If you’re in a warm locale…please call or email me right away!
Thanks for letting me gab to your folks Tammy!
Purple Moose Designs