Indeed, using the correct hand sewing needles and sewing pins in your project is important.  Using the right hand sewing needle and pins can save you from damaging your fabric with small holes as well as from a lot of frustration.

Let’s start with a breakdown of some of the hand sewing pins and their purposes:

Straight pin

Straight – These are just basic/general purpose pins that can be used in any type of sewing.


Pearl-headed – Longer than the straight pins with a colored pearl head which makes them easier to pick up and find.


Glass-Head -These are similar to the pearl-headed but shorter and they have a little advantage over the pearl-headed because they can be pressed over without melting.

Flower headed

Flowerhead – A longer pin with medium thickness that has a flat flower shaped head (top). This design can allow for the pin to be pressed over.

Quilting – Designed to hold multiple layers of fabric together with their longer length and medium thickness.

Safety pin

Safety pins– These can come in a variety of sizes, but their common use is holding fabrics together. Hand quilting is a good example of when these would come in handy. They can hold the thicker layers together while the end of the pin is protected while you are working on your hand stitching.

Lace or bridal – Find, short pins designed to be used with finer fabrics such as lace.

Extra fine – Extra long and extra fine which makes it desirable for dressmakers.

Dressmaker’s – Holds similarities to the straight pin in its shape and thickness, however it is a little longer. These are a more common pin for beginners.


Staple –  These are a stronger pin that looks like a large staple. These are used to pin loose covers to furniture.


Spiral – These are also used to secure loose covers to furniture. They are shaped like a spiral with a sharp point at one end which allows you to twist it in and out. These are also great for holding a bed skirt in place.


And guess what! With all of these pins available, I discovered CLIPS! I wish I would have found these when my babies were little and I used the floor as my pinning station. We found a lot of pins the hard way.  Since my discovery of clips, I rarely use pins, however, they are still a staple for some of my projects for when I need to get in closer to the sewing machine.  Clips are a little bulkier and need to be removed sooner than a pin would.

Sewing Needles:

Sharps – A general purpose hand sewing needle that has a small, round eye (opening there you put the thread thru). These come in sizes 1-12, but for most hand sewing, it is probably safe to say you will want to use a size 6-9.

Beading – These are used to sew beads and sequins to fabric.  They are long and very fine, which makes them more prone to bending.


Bodkin – This needle has a very unique look to it with a large fat eye opening and a blunt end. Its purpose is for threading elastic or a cord.

Chenille – Looks similar to the tapestry needle but the point is sharper. Because of the larger eye, it is also used with wool yarns for darning or embroidery.

Darning – A long and thick needle, designed to be used with thicker fabrics such as wool or multiple layers of fabric.

Grewel – These are your embroidery needles, which have long, oval eye designed to hold multiple strands of thread at one time, or a thicker thread.

Milliners or Straw – A very thin and long needle with a small, round eye. These are best for hand sewing and basting to avoid damaging fabric.

Self-threading needle

Self-threading needle – These needles have a double eye.  Thread is placed in the top eye and then pulled into the eye below.

Tapestry – These needles are commonly known for their blunt end and larger, longer eye. They are used to sew wool yarn in tapestry.

Quilting – Similar to the milliners above, this is a short needle with a small, round eye.  These are good to use for fine hand stitching such as hand quilting.


Wire needle threader – Some sewing machines or kits will come with these in them. They can be helpful in threading needles for your sewing machine as well as for hand sewing needles.

Automatic needle threader – A small machine that is operated with the press of a lever.

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Joan Mantini

About Joan Mantini

After several years of being the Facebook page owner at Beginner Sewing, I noticed there was a desperate need to have a single go-to spot for members to be able to find answers to their common questions, get some useful tips & tricks, as well as find reputable places to purchase sewing products online. Taking my role as a trade publication editor by day, and combining it with my knowledge of frequently requested beginner sewing advice, I created An outlet that gives new sewists a free digital magazine geared for entry level sewing as an extra bonus!


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