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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I like Bohin – Their Needles & Their Company


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Yesterday, we discussed English needles and the manufacturing of needles today. Most embroidery needle manufacturing in the world has been outsourced to regions where they can be produced with cheaper labor. As one reader commented, “the world is changing… and nothing is as it was or will be again.”

It may well be that the world has changed to the Cheaper Labor / Higher Returns model in manufacturing, and I do sympathize with the Producers of Goods who have been pretty well forced into that model, but there are companies in the needlework industry that have resisted that model. And these companies, in general, produce higher quality needlework products.

When it comes to needles, in Europe, there are still some factories that manufacture sewing needles. The best known of these is the Bohin company in France. Apparently, there is a manufacturer in Spain as well, but I haven’t been able to track that down and verify it.

Bohin Embroidery Needles

Bohin is a company that’s been operating in France since the 1830’s. In the 1860’s, the company began manufacturing needles and pins. So they’ve been doing the needle / pin thing for a long time. Their needles are still made in their factory located near L’Aigle, France.

Bohin Factory, L'Aigle, France

You can read about the history of the Bohin company on their website. While there, do check out the page of historical photos, where you’ll also find some images of their ads from days of yore. Lovely stuff! You might also enjoy these photos of the needle and pin-making process at their factory today.

Bohin needles, overall, are excellent needles. They are strong, they are smooth as glass, and they are well made. I like them very much – I just hope that someday, they will produce a #12 embroidery (crewel) needle! Then I’d be in Needle Heaven!

What I like about the company is that they have resisted the “outsourcing” model, and they have maintained their company with integrity. They’ve kept up with trends, they’ve expanded to other sewing products that are particularly useful (I like Bohin’s ceramic pencil, especially for transferring designs on dark fabric), and they really set the industry standard with their needles.

Now, that’s not to say that every single needle that comes out of the Bohin factory is absolutely perfect – you may occasionally come across a flaw in a Bohin needle, as one reader noted in the comments on yesterday’s article about English needles. But in general, I find Bohin’s needles to be consistently better than any other embroidery needles available today.

Now, what does all this musing about needles mean? Does it mean I’ll never use another needle, besides Bohin’s? No, of course not! I have a stash of needles that will last me quite a while, and I’m not one to waste what I have. But I am more aware now of where my needles come from, and, when I have to purchase new needles, I do look for Bohin needles. Price-wise, they are competitive, and quality-wise, I think they’re superior to other needles. At the same time, when people ask me what embroidery needles to use, I recommend Bohin needles, if they can find them. (They’re not always easy to find!)

So that’s the needle talk. Needles are an important discussion, methinks. After all, without needles, how far would we get with our thread?


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(27) Comments

  1. One of my favorite needle mfr’s is Roxanne. I have found them to be consistently sharp, smooth and strong. None of the needles bend no matter how thin and they stay sharp for a long time. And Roxanne states that the needles are hand made in England. They are also reasonably priced. I have used many of the Roxanne types pf needles and do like them very much. I don’t know if they make a size 12 embroidery, but they do make a size 11 “embroidery Redwork” needle. I’d be interested to know what you think if you try them.

  2. Hi Mary,

    Well, it was a pretty amazing moment: I had JUST asked my husband to look online for Bohin needles in Europe (he loves to look online for things) while he was listening to the cricket when your email arrived…about Bohin needles! OooEeeeOOOOEeee (spooky Twlight Zone music here).

    Here’s the BIG question – where can we buy them? In the USA or in Europe. I cannot find a distributor online anywhere in Europe. I had given up because I can’t find Bohin embroidery/crewel needles anywhere.


    1. Hello Kathy,

      I also searched for the Bohin needles and turned up with nothing.
      So I went and searched in french (thank you google translate). I mean when they are made there, they must be sold there, right? And I came up with this:

      They do ship anywhere in Europe and also beyond.

      I haven’t ordered here yet, so I don’t know how they are, but wanted to share the info.

      I always get frustrated when I see that most of the things mentioned are made in Europe and I can never seem to find them here (Netherlands).


    2. There a number of needlework shops in the US that sell them. We’ve been selling them for about 4 years in my shop (Needle In A Haystack). In the US Checkers, Norden Crafts and Access Commodities are the distributors who import them to sell to shops. So if you check with any of them you can likely find a retail source near you if you are in the US. We ship all over the world as do many other shops.

    3. I tried to reply to Sabrina’s comment, but couldn’t, but however..I just ordered some Bohin needles from the French shop Sabrina linked, and I’ll let you know if they’re a good shop to order from when I get them!

      @Sabrina: I was thinking maybe the Handwerkboetiek in Roden may carry them, or if not, maybe they would be interested in selling them in the future? They have quite a lot of things that are hard to get in the Netherlands(like au ver a soie thread..)and they seem to be very open to suggestions. I think I’ll send them an email, it would be so much easier if we could get these needles in our own country!

    4. @Raou: Thank you for the tip! Roden is not too far away, so I will go and have look.

      Just a sidestap (talking about au ver a soie threads), I just ordered the color cart, made with actual thread. I looked for this a while ago and came up with nothing and stumbled upon them yesterday! If your interested they are available at http://www.handanger.nl (order from them before and they have a good service).

    5. Hi everyone,
      Thanks so much for the help! I finally got back to read your comments and have just ordered the needles. I will be so happy when they come!
      Liebe Grusse,

  3. Since we are talking about needles, I do want to say that I recently bought some Clover embroidery needles. The quality is fantastic, they are very sharp and smooth.

    Unfortunately, they do have a bit of a design flaw, in that the eye flares out. This makes French knots a bit of a trial, and I imagine any knotted stitch would be the same. Maybe they also make straw needles, I don’t know about that. But if they could fix this design problem, I really think they would be a challenger for the best embroidery needles available.

    I’m hoping someone from Clover is reading your blog!

  4. The Bohin Company is at many shows in France, and in the US they are in Houston and at Road to California.
    My husband and I sell their products in an on-line store called my needles and notions.com

  5. I was at a quilt show earlier this year and the Bohin company had a booth. They were mobbed! There were two French gentlemen manning the booth. One of the ladies standing in line told me that she had been back three times, just so she could listen to their cute accents! The two men had no clue about embroidering or quilting or any fiber art, but that didn’t seem to faze their customers. I bought a needle threader that seems to work most of the time. When I got home I realized I must have been under the spell of the accent as well. Who spends $20 for a needle threader unless they are enchanted?

  6. Hi Mary and every one else.
    Yesterday I posted a comment relating to my recent experience with Bohin needles. I want to thank you, Mary, for your latest post outlining your experiences with this product and Bohin’s production details, and to everyone else who related positive experiences using their needles. I will contact the manufacturer, but reassurances from the people who know best, ie the top rate Embroiderers who read your blog, have given me renewed confidence in these needles and the exceedingly strong possibility that I was just unlucky.
    Thank you again everybody.

    Mary, just for the record, I have no affiliation with any company, I just bumble along with my needle and thread, trying to do the best I can.


  7. Mary, You made me look! I thought for sure there was a pack of size 12 crewel needles in my stash. Since I’m not as organized as you , I couldn’t find them so they are either MIA or a figment of my imagination. As for Kathy (& you), may I suggest Quilter’s Fancy in Cortland, OH for Bohin needles. Usual disclaimers, no business interest, satisfied customer etc. Cindy (the owner) stocks a variety of Bohin products other than needles including some very snazzy variegated iron-on bias–so I say, anybody that sells size 28 chenille, size 28 tapestry, size 12 applique & size 15 beading needles is worth consulting. Hope this helps. And I agree with you about Bohin needles–dreamy.

  8. The last needles I purchased were from Bohin. Until now, I never realized why I liked them better than the “English” needles I used to use all the time but do no longer.
    Thanks for all your hard work and research!

  9. Mary,

    While Bohn may make good needles, one needs to be careful of their pins. I use a lot of pins for lacemaking and have found that the ‘blunt’ to ‘sharp’ ratio to be way above any problems I have had with other companies. They may be outsourcing parts of their supply chain and not others. Unfortunately when ordering by mail, one does not get to check the condition of the pins the same way when a box is in hand.

    I have also stopped using Kidd pins and needles due to rough edges.

    I do like their white pencil. It is very handy.

    1. Iris Superfein pins are really sharp & pointy for most lacemaking (& anything else!). Kind of long for Honiton or Milanese but I’d rather have reliable than short!

  10. I just ordered 4 packages of these needles(in different sizes) from the French website one of the lovely ladies here linked to, I’m very curious to try them out! I’ve always used Piecemakers and I’ve been happy with them, but I’m always eager to try new supplies. Looking forward to trying them out! Considering I live in the Netherlands, hopefully they should arrive soon 😀

  11. I’ve been doing some searching around and I’ve found a Canadian on-line source for some of the Bohin needles… http://www.agreatnotion.com. I have no affiliation with them, but have ordered things from them in the past and gotten really great service. Another Canadian online source is http://www.joannescreativenotions.com, but I don’t know that they carry Bohins. Their catalogue shows John James but they might have different types online. I found ‘Roxanne’ needles in the Keepsake Quilting catalogue (www.keepsakequilting.com) which is in the US. The description says that they are made in England and are of the ‘finest quality’.

  12. Hello Mary
    I agree with your article on Bohin needles . I live not far from the Bohin factory and I was lucky enough to visit this factory. It was a great pleasure to discover how the needles are done and how carefully they are done.

  13. My favotite tools are scissors and needles. I feel that if I do not have the best of these my project will not turn out well or will be different to do. What a beautiful gift to put in a give away. Thank you for giving us this opportunity.

    Rita DL

  14. I have ,for the olongest time used James Brown needles, the only other ones around my area are Japanese, which I bought for me beading, they are great either straight or circled.

  15. La Manufacture Bohin est un site industriel situé sur la commune de Saint-Sulpice-sur-Risle, dans le Pays d’Ouche, dans le département de l’Orne en région Normandie.

  16. As a beginner I have been reading many of your archives. My question is at this point you have discussed Bohin and Tulip needles. Which would you prefer and or suggest to start with?

    1. I like both. I prefer Bohin because they are reasonably priced, quality needles. Tulip needles are too expensive for needles, in my opinion, and while I do think they’re good quality, the fact is, a good needle will do the job, and Bohin makes good needles.

  17. I just stumbled across this article about needles that I found very interesting. I tried some Sullivan’s ball tipped needles and thought that it was nice how they went through the fabric. What I didn’t like was the plating that flaked off onto my sampler. Under 3X magnification, I could see pits in the plating. I was very disappointed with these needles especially since they are expensive and made in Germany.

    Similarly, in 1981, I bought a pair of Marks stork embroidery scissors that I had been coveting for weeks and could finally afford with my first paycheck as a college teaching assistant. I still have them, stamped with “West Germany”. To this day, they cut extremely well. I bought a pair of new Marks scissors, expecting the same quality. The new ones are made in China and cut noticeably badly.

    I use Piecemaker needles and love them. I am using some John James ones and do notice that the eye looks a little rough. When I am able to go back to work, I hope to take one needle of each manufacturer and size 28 to see how they look under high power magnification. I will also take the Sullivan’s needle to see how it looks as well. I will let you know the outcome.

    This article was very interesting.


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