About

Mary Corbet

writer and founder

 

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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary

     

Archives

2024 (75) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Tool Talk: Milliner vs. Bullion Needles – What’s the Diff?

 

Amazon Books

Recently, I had a discussion with a stitching friend about needles. She saw some of the needles I was using in this tutorial and this tutorial, and she wanted to know what kind they were.

So we got to talking about milliner needles, the sizes they’re available in, what sizes we like to use, and about a needle made and marketed by Tulip as a “Bullion Knot Needle” and described as a “big eye straight needle” in size Long and size Regular.

And that brought us to these questions: What is the difference between a milliner (also sometimes called a “straw” needle) and this “Bullion Knot” needle manufactured by Tulip? Aren’t the “Bullion Knot” needles just milliner needles repackaged under a different name? (No, they aren’t.) And why would we need a “Bullion Knot” needle if we already had milliner needles to make bullions and other wrap stitches?

I figured I’d answer her questions here. So today, we’re going to discuss the Milliner Needle and the Bullion Knot Needle to see what the differences are between the two.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

I’ve previous written about milliner needles here on Needle ‘n Thread, so if you want to read some more specific information about them, you’ll find information in this article specifically on milliner needles and in this article on how to choose and use embroidery needles.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

Since Bullion Knot needles are Tulip needles, I’ll be using Tulip’s milliner needles as the comparison.

In general, milliner needles have a sharp tip, a straight shaft (they don’t bulge at the eye), and a small, rounder eye.

The straight shaft makes them ideal for passing through wrapped stitches like bullion knots, or cast-on stitches (like cast-on stitch, drizzle stitch, and similar). Because there is no difference between the width of the shaft and the width of the eye area, they tend to pass through the wraps on the needle more easily.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

Tulip’s milliners come in combination packs. Milliner Assorted Thins are sizes 8, 9, and 10, and they are good for fine threads. You can use 2 strands of floss in the #8, and you can also use cotton floche in the #8.

The 9 and 10 are great for finer threads like one strand of floss or finer silks and finer rayons.

The needles are about 1 1/4″ to about 1 3/8″ long.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

Milliner Thicks are sizes 3, 5, and 7, and they are good for slightly heavier threads – up to about a #12 perle cotton or 3-4 strands of floss with the #3. I’ve also used a #8 perle cotton with the #3 milliner.

Because the larger sizes are longer than the Assorted Thins, the Assorted Thicks come in a much longer tube.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

In length, the Assorted Thicks range from about 1 3/4″ – 2 3/16″ long.

Unless I’m doing very, very fine work, the assorted thicks get more use than the assorted thins do. I find the #5 to be a good, general purpose size of milliner needle, and the #3 is good for the slightly heavier threads.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

Here, you can see the Assorted Thins on the left and the Assorted Thicks on the right, for comparison of sizes.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

And here you can see a close-up of the typical milliner eye. It isn’t exactly round, but the eye is not as large or oblong as the eye on a typical embroidery needle.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

And here, you have the Bullion Knot needles. Right off the bat, you might notice that the shafts are much larger, which will result in larger and bolder stitches.

The longest of the two is about 2 5/8″ long (over 2.5″ long). These needles not only accommodate heavier threads like perle cottons and specialty threads more easily, but they can handle more stitches on their shafts, due to their length.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

Additionally, their eyes are longer – noticeably longer than the eyes of a typical milliner needle, but not as long as the eyes of a tapestry or chenille needle.

The longer eyes make it much easier to accommodate and to thread heavier threads and specialty threads (like metallics, chenille threads, and more).

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

Here, you can see the difference between the #3 Milliner (far right) and the Bullion Knot (long) needle.

Milliner Needles vs Bullion Needles - what is the difference?

Here, you can see the difference between the eyes of the two types of needles.

The Take-Away

What is the difference between a milliner and a “Bullion Knot” needle?

Mostly, it’s the size of the needle, but it is also the shape of the eye. The Bullion Knot needles are generally larger than typical milliner needles and they have a longer eye, which accommodates heavier threads more easily. They both have straight shafts suitable for stitches made with wrapped or cast-on threads.

Aren’t the “Bullion Knot” needles just milliner needles repackaged under a different name?

No, they aren’t – not, at least, in the Tulip brand. Tulip’s Bullion Knot needles are noticeably different in the thickness and length of their shaft and in the length of their eye.

Why would we need a Bullion Knot needle if we already have milliner needles to make bullions and other wrap stitches?

If you work with heavier or specialty threads and you want to make wrapped or cast-on stitches with them, then the Bullion Knot needles will accommodate those threads better. It is easier to thread these needles with heavier and specialty threads.

Additionally, the thicker shaft of the Bullion Knot needle results in bolder, heavier bullions or cast-on stitches.

Where to Find Them

You’ll find a whole array of Tulip needles for different aspects of embroidery here, including Milliner and Bullion Knot needles.

If you would like to read more about Tulip needles – and why I decided to carry them – you can find more information about them here.

In the Studio

What’s going on in the studio lately? Well, some big things! We are designing a couple new projects which I’ll be showing you soon. One is our next Stitch Snippet – autumn themed. Woohoo! And the other? Well, it’s a surprise! (For us, too – we’ve designed the gist of it, but we need to work out some kinks. There are always kinks…)

And we’ve been in production mode! All of our ready-to-stitch towel sets are back in stock! If you’re looking for some super-relaxing, fun projects that make great gifts for family, friends, or yourself, check those out. We have all of our design sets available – floral, fall, winter, Christmas, and folk! Yay! (That was a big job! Get ’em while you can!)

Lately, I’ve been toying with stitches and working up new tutorials, which I’ll be sharing with you in upcoming weeks. For some time, I’ve been hankering to work a sampler of sorts for a completely different purpose than you might expect, and although it will take time to get ‘er done, it’s a fun adventure! Along the way, I’ll be trickling out tips, techniques, and tutorials.

We’ll be tying up our Cornflowers stitch-along on Friday. If you want a kit to work now or in the future, grab one! We still have a few in stock, but once they’re gone, they’re gone, and I’m not sure when (or if) they’ll be back.

 
 

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*


(2) Comments

  1. Great post!I made bullion knots for the first time on your tape measure cover. I found the milliners needle quite hard to thread so I will try the bullion needle. Hopefully I will find it easier to work with.
    I find your comparison articles very interesting as they offer answers to many question that pop into my brain while I am embroidering, thank you.

    1
  2. I always enjoy reading your articles and your stitch tutorials are a great help.
    I noticed you mentioned you are working up new tutorials, would it be possible for you to add goldwork stitches to your YouTube tutorials, please?

    2
More Comments