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Thread: Need advice on hand sewing needles.

  1. #1
    Super Member MacThayer's Avatar
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    Question Need advice on hand sewing needles.

    I am in the process of binding a quilt by hand, normally an easy peasy job for me. However, I have developed peripheral neuropathy in my hands (due to long term Vit. B12 deficiency), and not only do they hurt, but I just don't have the dexterity I used to have, so I've really been struggling with this binding. I'm doing it well, but it's difficult.

    What would really help is a longer, thinner, strong needle. I tried the applique needles, and just could cope -- too short. I've gone through 7 needles since starting this binding. The longer ones are so thick that they're hard to pull through the fabric. I did finally find one that was thinner, and 1.5 inches long, and that's helping. However, it would be better with a longer needle, but one that is still thin and sharp. Is there such a thing? The needle wouldn't have to be too much longer. Even a 2 inch needle would be an improvement. I'm finding that the longer needles are so much easier for me to manipulate. I'm all thumbs with those applique needles.

    I am getting physical therapy, and my B12 deficiency is being treated aggressively, so I should get better, not worse. But I'll never be able to use a short needle again, and I don't want to give up all hand work on quilts. Any ideas would be gratefully appreciated.
    Last edited by MacThayer; 06-14-2013 at 08:51 AM. Reason: corrections
    MacThayer

  2. #2
    Super Member crafty pat's Avatar
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    Have you tried a beading needle. They are thinner and break easier but they are long and sharp.

  3. #3
    Super Member EasyPeezy's Avatar
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    I have a similar problem and can't use short needles anymore. I have two favorite
    needles. One is a Roxanne basting needle and the other one I'm not sure which
    brand (I've been using the same needle for such a long time). The difference
    between the two needles is that one is slightly longer and thinner than the other
    and one has a bigger eye - good for burying threads. I'll be watching this thread
    because I could use a slightly shorter needle too.

  4. #4
    Super Member Peckish's Avatar
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    I've tried several needles and my all-time favorite, especially for binding, is the John James Sharps, size 10.

    Some needles are hard to pull through the fabric not just because they're large, but also because of the kind of coating (or not) they have. After using good quality needles and pins, I cannot stand Dritz products. They feel like they drag. I used Roxanne needles for a while, but they have a tendency to bend so I save them for applique.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    I like using straw needles for hand piecing and hand appliqué. They're longer than sharps and seem to go through the fabric easier for me.


    Janet

  6. #6
    Super Member thimblebug6000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hinterland View Post
    I like using straw needles for hand piecing and hand appliqué. They're longer than sharps and seem to go through the fabric easier for me.


    Janet
    Yes I was going to suggest the straw needles, they are the easiest for me too.

  7. #7
    Power Poster ckcowl's Avatar
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    milner's or straw needles are nice & long, thin/fine and strong- some people use them for beading. I do a lot of hand work with milner's (depends on the brand if they are called milner or straw) I generally use John James milner's in 10's or 12's...nice sharp needles.
    hiding away in my stash where i'm warm, safe and happy

  8. #8
    Super Member JulieR's Avatar
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    I use Foxglove Cottage straw needles, 10 or 11. The downside is they are so thin, the eyes are teeny and they can be difficult to thread, so that's something to think about.

  9. #9
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    I'm not sure of the "hows" of a longer needle helping but I too have some small needle issues. Have good and bad days with gripping and pulling the needle. It seems that I can't grip the needle tight enough to make it do what I want on the down days. Putting finger cots on my thumb and pointer seems to make the needle behave better and makes it more doable. But thanks for all the info on slippery needles -- will be checking them out -- hopefully will extend my sewing days by leaps and bounds.

  10. #10
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    Ricky Tim's has a method of machine sewing a piping type of binding on...without any hand sewing involved.
    Life may not be the party we planned for,but while we are here we should dance!

  11. #11
    Super Member MacThayer's Avatar
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    Thank you for all your help! I'll be looking for those needles, to be sure. I'm not ready to give up on something I've loved all my life, not until I have to do it. Until then, life is all about adaptation and modification. I have loved sewing for almost 50 years, quilting in my later years (when I could stop making all those clothes for kids and formal wear for weddings that I could sell for extra money). Quilting is something I find peaceful, creative and rewarding in ways that are just hard to describe. I want to quilt until I drop dead, like my great-grandmother did. She was the one who taught me to sew, and also left me several finished quilt tops for me to make into quilts when she died. What a blessing she was to me!

    This Board really rocks!!!!
    MacThayer

  12. #12
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    I use embroidery needles, for piecing, sewing my binding on, applique, and just about everything I do by hand, the only exception would be hand quilting and of course I use a between for that. I use a #7 or #8. There easy to thread because of the larger eye also.

  13. #13
    Super Member cabbagepatchkid's Avatar
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    I'm just getting serious about learning how to hand piece a quilt. I have Jinney Beyer's book on hand sewing and she uses a quilting between. Because of the way she holds her thread and fabric she is able to use such a small needle but I haven't gotten the hang of it, yet. She's FAST!

    So instead I have been having good luck using a size 10 milliners needle by Richard Hemming & Son. It's got a nice length for holding onto, it's thin but yet strong enough for piecing and I think it would work for binding, too. It slips right through the fabric without any drag.

  14. #14
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    Write Colonial Needle Company in White Plains NY and tell them just what you have said here. Send an email and share their answer with the board. Write me if they don't respond. I know the folks down there. you can explain the problem better than I can.

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