Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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The Right Embroidery Needle – Good Reference Chart


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Following up on the information about Colonial Needle – a great place to order your embroidery needles – it may be useful to have access to a good reference chart that describes the various needles used in hand embroidery and even gives photos of them.

Country Bumpkin used to have a really good embroidery needle reference chart on their website. What I liked about it over other charts is that it gives the reader all the information you need to choose the correct needle: types, uses, sizes available, and (unlike other charts I’ve seen) the types of threads or the numbers of strands to use with the different sizes of needles.

Unfortunately, it’s not available anymore, as this post is several years old, and Country Bumpkin has since reformatted their website.


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(17) Comments

  1. hello mary can you tell me is there a easy way to know what end of your thread is the right end thank you for any help you may be able to give

  2. Hi, Joyce –

    Wool is really the only common embroidery thread with an obvious nap. If you run a wool thread between your fingers, you’ll be able to tell by looking at the fibers – if running it through your fingers causes the fibers to stand out from the thread, it’s going in the wrong direction. The right direction will feel smoother and the little fuzzy fibers, for the most part, will smooth themselves onto the thread.

    Silk doesn’t have a nap, and, to my knowledge, neither does mercerized cotton.

    Maybe someone else can give some more input if they know differently?

    Hope that helps!

  3. Well, this is an old post now!

    Anyhow, one way to find the direction on cotton floss is to run it across your upper lip. It will feel rougher when it’s going the ‘wrong’ way. Thread on a spool usually comes off going the right way.

  4. Hello Mary!
    I know this is a really old post but,what specific size needle works best for regular hand embroidery for beginners? I don’t know which one to buy!! Thank You

    1. Hi, Sky – the type of needle you’d normally use for hand embroidery is called a “crewel” needle (or also an “embroidery” needle – they are the same). The size depends on the type and size of thread you’re using and the type of fabric you’re using. There’s no standard size just for beginners – it depends on what you’re doing. I’d suggest getting a combo pack of crewel needles (sizes 3-9 usually come in a combo pack) and that should cover most beginner’s needs.

      Hope that helps!


  5. Thank you Mary!
    One more question.Should I get a copy of The Embroiderer’s Handbook? I heard it was a good book from several people I know. I was wondering if you had experience using the book.Thank You!!

    1. Hi, Sky! I like it – but if you have any of the A-Z of embroidery stitches books, you’ll find it repetitive. If you’re keen on a whole variety of stitches, you might consider the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches volumes 1 & 2. They’re all good books, though! MC

  6. Thank You so much!! I was having a hard time with hand embroidery untill I found your wonderful website a week ago!! It’s faboulous! Thank You once again!

  7. Hi, Mary — I came across County Bumpkin’s Needle Guide online at http://woolythread.blogspot.com/2012/08/country-bumpkins-needle-guide.html.

    The Wooly Thread sells the guide as a two-sided 8.5″ x 5/5″ plastic coated card for $7.00 with no-cost shipping. I’m not sure if this is the same guide they used to offer on their website, but the illustrations are excellent and include detailed descriptions.

    P.S. I love your site! Your tutorials make me feel like I can stitch anything! Thanks so much!!

    1. Whoops! I got carried away in my enthusiasm! The thread guide is no longer available on The Wooly Thread’s website (so sorry!). But if you following the link to the blogspot, you can view it online.

  8. Hello,

    There is a digital image of the chart that I found. I did a Google search and it showed up in Pinterest. The chart reads “Country Bumpkin” on it.

  9. Hi Mary,
    I too have discovered Colonial Needle and am figuring out which needles to buy, as I am taking up embroidery. DMC.com has a needle and thread guide on their site.

  10. Hello! I’ve been soaking in your website for some time working my nerves up to try embroidery (been doing counted cross stitch with specialty stitches for 35 years).
    My man bought me a Tapistree Bunnies kit to play with, but I’m too scared to dive right in — and there’s no needle in the kit anyway.
    I know my faithful size 26 and size 28 tapestry needles won’t help me in this new venture so I went to needlenthread.com for assistance. Oops. No needle help here. A tantalizing link went nowhere.
    Just letting you know. 🙂

  11. Hi Mary,
    I follow your site and refer to it often, as it has a ton of information on it.

    I was wondering about which needles to use for what technique. You mentioned that there used to be a chart by Country Bumpkin, but it is no longer on their site.

    I did some research and found an interesting and very inclusive chart on this on a website called https://www.jjneedles.com/images/needles-guide/Hand_Sewing_Needle_Size_Guide_Type_Length.pdf

    Just thought I’d pass it on in case you wanted to share it on your website.

    P.S. I’m having a good time embroidering the twelve days of Christmas while recovering from knee replacement surgery….yeah!


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