What is a Cross Stitch Needle?

Tara Barnett
Tara Barnett
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The most common cross stitch needle is called a tapestry needle. It is usually relatively large compared to needles used for sewing, and it has a blunted tip. Given that embroidery thread can be somewhat thick, the eye of the needle must be larger than for those needles used with smaller thread. The size cross stitch needle required depends on the cloth being used and can be determined by looking at the fabric count. While the tapestry needle is the most common cross stitch needle, it is possible to do cross stitch with other needles, and this may even be necessary in certain projects.

The size of a cross stitch needle is very important for projects worked on fabrics such as linen or aida. Most projects will require a size 22 or 24 tapestry needle. While many people are more comfortable working with smaller needles, the size of the needle serves an important purpose in cross stitch. Cross stitch needles must slightly open the holes in the fabric to prevent the thread from catching and eventually wearing down.

A cross stitch needle used for counted cross stitch must also have several features in order to be maximally useful. First, it must be blunted because cross stitch is not sewing. The needle goes through holes; it does not create them. Second, it must have an eye of an appropriate size for the thread. This prevents the thread from getting scrunched up.

Some cross stitch projects require different needles, usually depending on the kind of thread and fabric being used. Stamped cross stitch, for instance, usually requires a sharper needle. Darner needles and beading needles may be used for certain more complex projects. When an unusual needle is required for a project, the pattern will usually make note of the necessary needle. Typically, the only needle required for basic counted cross stitch projects is a tapestry needle.

These guidelines are important for maximally efficient and beautiful projects, and they are products of a long tradition of cross stitchers. People who have tried many different kinds of needles typically find that the tapestry needle is best suited to cross stitch. Even so, it is physically possible to do cross stitch with many other kinds of needles, including many that are never recommended for this type of project. In a pinch, any needle that can handle the size of embroidery thread and fit through the fabric can be used for a cross stitch project even if the process and finished product will not be ideal.

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