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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Embroidery Tools – Thinking, Thinking, Thinking…


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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of some embroidery tools must be in want of more embroidery tools.

I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere.

I’m not wholly convinced it’s true, but I can confirm from personal experience that it’s not unusual to end up with a wide variety of embroidery tools if you’re an avid stitcher.

Scissor Fob

Whether decorative, utilitarian, or both, embroidery tools are part of the stitcher’s life.

And while there are many, many stitchers who have vast collections of scissors of practically every ilk, who have fobs and needle minders coming out of their ears, who have a hoop for every one of those unfinished projects and many more to boot, the fact is, embroidery only requires a few tools.

If you have a good hoop, if you have excellent quality needles, and if you have a stellar pair of embroidery scissors, you can cruise through your embroidery life with little else in the tool case.


Maybe a laying tool.

Perhaps a couple laying tools, actually.

Maybe a fob or two. Perhaps a pincushion or several. A thimble or six.

But yes, I’m here to tell you that embroidery can be accomplished – and accomplished well! – with very few tools.

Scissor Fob

The tool that you can’t do without in embroidery, though, without a doubt, is the needle. You can get by without scissors. You can get by without a hoop. But you’re not going to get very far without a needle!

Lately, I’m more and more convinced that good quality needles are a thing of beauty, worth treasuring, and somewhat rare.

Sure, I have my favorite brands of needles – I use John James and Bohin needles pretty regularly, and I have a few favorites among the Tulip brand, too – but when you discover the Ideal Needle for You, it’s a grand thing. And it’s worth keeping an eye on that needle (haha… I didn’t actually mean to be punny). It’s worth not losing it!

Good needles, the ones that are at home in your fingers and that make stitching easy are not necessarily that common.

If you are just getting into embroidery, you might take some time to learn a bit about embroidery needles and to test different types, to see what you like and what works well for you. I’ve written a lot about needles, if you want to explore the archives here for more information about them.

I’m going to share some needle-testing with you in the days to come. I have found one that I’ve fallen in love with. It’s my own Mr. Darcy of the Needle World. We were meant for each other, I’m pretty sure.

But Enough of That

On Friday, we’ll continue with Cotton Quartet. We’re going to start the construction process here on the blog. Members on Patreon will get the final installment of the project on Friday, which includes all the construction steps and final finishing of the tool wallet.

And then you’ll have a very special place to put your very special needles and your very special scissors.

And I think that’s very exciting!

See you Friday!


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(10) Comments

  1. Yes, it’s hard to stop looking at the tools. Even after ordering that luscious squound hoop from you, I found myself perusing the hoops at the local-ish EGA garage sale last Friday. I’d say “Yay me!” for not getting any, except there was nothing I don’t already have a bunch I should donate to their next sale.
    I keep an eye out for vintage needles at estate sales, flea markets and such. Even if the same brand, those seem to be so much nicer that what’s in the stores now.

  2. Tools, ahhhhhh…. I love the hardwood laying tool (and aficot) I got as a treat to myself but I so so so agree with you about needles – if your needles don’t “sit” right between your fingers, or you don’t like the way the go through the fabric, that can really put you off picking up a project. Is it possible to tell the difference between different brands of needle objectively? Well, I once did what amounted to a blind test (although I wasn’t aware of it at the time) in that I bought what I thought was the same brand as my favourite needles and finding that they were not as nice as usual – which turned out to be because they were by a different manufacturer 🙂 (By the way, my favourites are Prym’s halblang/betweens.)

  3. Needles can make such a big difference! Thanks for writing about them.
    A request: could you please explain how to tell when your needle should be replaced?

  4. I love tools–not just stitching related tools but tools for other activities and I do tend to collect them. There’s just nothing like a really good quality tool designed for a specific job. And speaking of needles, I also prefer John James but my absolute favorite crewel needle is by Hemmings. I have several packets that are at least 30 years old and they are precious.

  5. You are such an incredible, invaluable teacher. You colorful delightful way to share your knowledge and delicious description of threads and fabrics keep my spirit lifted and my mine hungry to know more.
    I don’t think you will ever know what a treasure you are to the community you have created over the years.
    I can search and linger for days in the libraries you have developed for the student of embroidery, be it history, techniques, past projects,(the list goes on).
    Thank you for being such an incredible steward of your beautiful skills by sharing and helping us to grow in this journey with you.

  6. Indeed, a favorite needle is a friend, a necessity, a thing of beauty. I am grateful for the designers who create a most useful tool that is a joy to use.

  7. A few years ago, I discovered the Easy Guide Needle by Sullivan’s. Okay, so I’m a cross-stitcher and hardangerer (is that a word?), but those needles were a game changer for me. I love, love, love them! They feel good in my hand, and they make my stitching easier. I highly recommend them.

  8. Dear Mary

    Absolutely agree the needle is the most needed and important of embroidery tools. But there are so many variants long, short, big and fat and thin. Silky rough and long like beading needles the list goes on, but as you say you can get by with very little accessories. I really looking forward to you telling us about the needle you have fallen in love with your own Mr Darcy needle you have found. Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts on embroidery tools and the humble needle.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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