Fabrics and yarns get all the love, but you can't complete that gorgeous embroidery project without a solid needle. Keep these tips in mind to help make sure you have the right one in hand.
A general rule of thumb is to use the smallest needle possible for the job. In sizing, the higher the number (90/14, 80/12), the bigger the needle — and the larger the hole it makes in your fabric. Universal needles have a much smaller eye than either embroidery or metallic needles, both of which have elongated eyes that help prevent your thread from shredding.
Focus on Your Craft
Needles come in a variety of types for a reason. Universal needles are fine for general, all-purpose sewing, whereas embroidery needles are meant for mastering embroidery work. Sharps are great on woven fabrics, and work beautifully when you want crisp appliqué. Ballpoint needles gently push knit fibers apart (instead of cutting through them), and hemstitch or wing needles help create beautiful decorative stitching on light- or medium-weight woven fabrics.
The point is: If you want professional-looking results, use the needle that's made for the specific type of project you're creating.
Swap 'Em Out
It's tempting to use the same needle over and over (and over) again, but it's important to change it out after eight hours of use to ensure you've got a sharp point poking through your material. The good news: embroidery needles are relatively cheap — especially when you compare it to the cost of potentially ruining your project! — so it's worth the the investment.