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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Needles for Short Threads


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Do you ever get to that point in your stitching where you have just a couple more stitches, but ooooooh – your thread is running out and you’re pretty sure your needle isn’t going to let you go any further? I experienced that a couple times last week. What’s the solution? Petites.

Tapestry petites are little needles – a full quarter inch smaller than a regular sized tapestry needle – and they are ideal for getting the most out of your thread.

Tapestry Petits - Small Needles for Hand Embroidery

These needles, stuck in the needle felt block I keep my Japanese hand-made needles in, are both size 28 tapestry needles. Tapestry needles have a long eye and a blunt tip and are the ideal needle for counted thread work, needlepoint, petit point, and other techniques where you need a blunt tip that will help you avoid splitting fabric threads.

The needle on the left in the photo above is the tapestry petite.

You would not think that a quarter of an inch on a needle would make all that much difference, but it really does! The short needle allows you to work closer to the end of your thread, getting the most stitch coverage out of it, while still being able to manipulate the needle underneath the threads on the back when you’re ready to tie off.

Tapestry petites do require some getting used to! That little needle, especially in a size 28 (which is relatively small for tapestry needles) is much more delicate, so your fingers have to get used to finding it. But once you’re used to the smaller needle, you’ll find it’s a great tool for your stitching needs.

Tapestry Petits - Small Needles for Hand Embroidery

Tapestry petites come in different brands, but the local needlework shop where I bought my last bunch of needles only carries John James. That’s quite ok – these are pretty good needles. I’ve never had a problem with them, even after long-term use.

One online source that I really like for needles, especially if I’m buying in bulk, is Colonial Needle. They have just about every type of needle you’d want for regular handwork, and their prices, shipping, and customer service are hard to beat.

So, if you’re looking to get a bit more out of your thread, next time you buy needles, consider picking up some tapestry petites. I think you’ll like them!

How about you? Do you use petites? Do you like them? What’s your Favorite Needle?


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(18) Comments

  1. In my dressmaking, hemming in particular, I really prefer a very dainty needle, short and slim. I can well imagine that having tiny needles to finish off close embroidery would be helpful.

  2. A note of warning, I think the smaller sized needles have sharper tips, something that us needlepointers aren't used to! But I love the Petites. John James is my second favorite brand of needle. I prefer the Peacemaker needles as my acid hands don't damage them quickly and they feel so smooth. They are not available in all that many sizes as they are a small scale product from a religious group whose main marker is quilters. This is their barebones website.


  3. Mary,
    Thank you for the info on these needles. Wondering if you have a favorite embroidery needle, you probably have shared this before and I missed it. I enjoy all the info and classes that you share! Thanks so much.

  4. I have never heard of these before. How wonderful. Yes I agree a quarter inch would make all the difference sometimes. Sometimes I leave so little thread that it is a real struggle to make the last stitch or to finish the thread. When this happens I use my [a href="http://threadsacrosstheweb.blogspot.com/2008/09/sinking-needle.html"%5Dsinking needle[/a] to plung my thread to the back and even to weave the threadd through the back of other stitches.

  5. I love my petites and use them all the time! They are great for using up as much as possible of those expensive hand-dyed or silk threads. The eyes are delicate though, especially on the 28's, so I have learned to not use them for French and bouillon (sp?) knots.

  6. Thanks for your comments!

    I do have a favorite needle – I'll be writing about it later in the week.

    Um. Well, for those of you who did notice – and even those of you who didn't – my apologies for the grammar mistake in the first line. I've since corrected it on the website, but it's permanently engraved in the daily newsletter which has already gone out. A tribute, I suppose, to the hasty writer who fails to proof read. Ack.

  7. I like petites very much too (I have only John James). But I would like to get even smaller needles, because sometimes I am short of about one centimetre of thread stitching with petites… I hate such situations.

  8. I love the JJ petites. It took a while to get accustomed to the shorter length, but now I don't use anything else. I stitch 2-handed, and they are the best length for turning the needle. I don't waste as much thread either.

  9. 1) S. Thomas & Sons is my top fav. brand. (this particular one is size 10 but I like using sizes 7-10 according to the need and from the same Brandi also like Chenille needles in the smallest size)
    2) Richard Hemming & Son ( 2nd fav. brand, shown in size 10)
    3) Super Glide Big Eye Colonial Quilting needle (size 11, since is so little it helps with working with the end of the thread/floss)
    4) Can't remember brand but this is a tapestry size 28, good for weaving on the surface though I have to admit that most of the time I use my embroidery working needle backwards for weaving.
    5) Not shown, I also like using (any brand) "between" needle for bullions in one of the thinest sizes.

    I too buy mine at http://www.colonialneedle.com.

    PS= in addition of the ones above I've tried DMC, John James, Clover and others but, so far I'm liking S. Thomas & Sons better.

  10. I was just cussing about that last night! I think I have a package of them in my sewing basket… Thanks for the tip! It's a "sharp" one!


  11. Some of the characteristics mentioned by different commenters may depend on the needle brand. The type I have has a very blunt tip, and the eye isn't particularly fragile. I got the needle as part of a needlework class kit, so don't know what brand it is. I find that stitching with a shorter needle makes my hand cramp, so I use it only when I really need it.

  12. Hi –

    I have some petites (brand is ??) but haven't used them yet. Thanks for the pointer to where to buy needles.

    onafixedincome – I have a few of those "banana" needles also, but as long as they aren't so bent that the plating cracks (and then starts snagging) I keep using them. In fact they are often the ones I reach for first, it seems I have more control with them, esp. for sewing and embroidery.


  13. forgot to add – when I bend needles, it's usually due to using a needle too small for the task. Or I'm a "bit" stressed and really trying to keep a good grip (and not just on the needle 🙂 ).


  14. But can you use the Petit for regular embroidery like your printed towels? Sometimes I feel like I want a smaller needle for printed cross stitch that I am working.

  15. Yes! I only use petites, I feel like I have better control of all my stitches, not just the “end of the rope” ones.

    My favorite needle ever was called “perfect needle” it came in a black box with only one needle and it really was PRFECT but I haven’t been able to find it it it’s equal in about 20 years.

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