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Felt Food 101 – Lesson 3 Needles:
Differences in sewing needles:
There are a ton of different needles out there so I just thought I would take a minute to cover the bases. The first and most important thing to note about needles is that they are all sized in the same manner. The smaller the number the longer and thicker the needle. I agree that this is misleading and annoying, and yes I think they do it that way just to mess with people.
Needles are sized in numbers from 1-12, guess which is the smallest? If you guessed 12 then your obviously a quick study, a cheater or you already know a little about needles. If you guessed 1..see I told you it’s really annoying. Now that you know a thing or two about sizing lets get down to the knitty gritty
Types of Needles
Sharps- These are you everyday standard needle. When one refers to a sewing needle chances are this is what they are referring to. These are your standard Joe sixpack needle, their tips are sharp (some needles aren’t so don’t make that face at me!) and they are middle of the road on length. Available in sizes 1-12
Milliners Needles- These are very long needles sometimes called Straw needles they most often used to make pleats, sew ribbon embroidery and embellish hats, hence the name. They are usually available in sizes 3 to 12.
Embrodiery Needles(s0me people call them crewel but I find them to perfectly lovely and very likable…sorry couldn’t help myself there) These needle have the same sharp tip but are a bit longer since the eye of the needle is longer to accommodate thicker threads. Available in sizes 1-10
Beading Needles- beading needles are the needle you should use when, you guessed it placing beads onto fabrics, the eye of these needles are skinny (we should all be so lucky) to accommodate beads sliding over them without getting caught. In sizes 10 – 15
Quilters needles or betweens- Since these little babies are used for hand quilting you’d think they’d be the perfect choice for hand sewing felt, you’d be wrong. They are very short and thin, making them easily lost in thick felt and can feel a little clumsy in the hand when working with tough material. They are however great for making very even small stitches. They are usually only available in sizes 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 (medium short to Danny Divto short, love ya Danny!)
Darning Needles, sometimes called Darners- A Darning needle is a larger big eyed blunt tip needle. The larger sizes are often used in wool work however for felt food purpose’s a sharp or embroidery is probably your best option.
Doll Needles- If Quilters are the Danny Divito of the sewing needle world doll needles are the Arnold Schwarzenegger of needles. (Twins was on a lot when I was growing up) While like any needle they will vary in length and thickness they are usually long strong needles, useful for sewing through very thick felt food, such as felt Pumpkins, apples etc…
* I am not getting into the felting needle in this post since they aren’t used for sewing.
Gee thanks but I just want to know what to buy!
Just plain old sewing needles will do just fine when sewing felt food i.e Sharps. I however like to use embroidery needles because I am a rebel and because they are a bit longer and easier to thread plus if I decide to do any embroidery onto my project I don’t have to dig out another needle. I find that for sewing felt you’ll want a thicker longer needle, I have actually bent one or two of the smaller sharp needles. I would use anything from a 3 to a 6 (remember the smaller the number the larger the needle) You will want to avoid too thick of a needle since it can leave a noticeable entry hole in your felt, although these will disappear after time or you can just gently rub at the surrounding felt and it will usually blend in better. I also use a doll needle for sewing into thick objects and beading needles for you guessed it, beading!
Can I sew felt food with a sewing machine?
Nothing beats the easy and versatility of hand sewing when working with something small or thick however you can also use a sewing machine for most of your sewing applications involving felt food, this is very nice if you’re making a lot of something. The Majority of the time I think just loading the bobbin and thread takes more time than hand sewing and hand sewing seems to add a charming personal touch and can be done while watching re-runs of Bewitched because your BFF thinks the Tony’s are dumb, yeah I am talking to you Amelia! When using a machine there will be draping and curving issues that are unworkable since most machines are really limited in the kinds if stitches they can create. Another downside to using a machine is that if you should make a mistake the stitches can be hard to remove and since you can no longer use cross stitch threads finding the right color of thread and then winding a matching bobbin can be a nightmare.
If you are looking to buy a sewing machine I would highly recommend talking to friends and family to see what they like to use. My favorite resource in this area is the sewing machine repair shop, these are usually listed in the phone book as sew and vacs, a good place will be able to give you some tips on what’s good, what’s not, what needs the most repair and maintenance and most importantly what costs the most to maintain. 99 % of the time they will also sell used machines, and generally offer a guarantee. You can also try Craig’s list or eBay although the cost of shipping can be prohibitive and it’s hard to know if something is in good working order until it’s too late.