Has long been a teacher of English Literature, after the retirement focused on freelance copywriting. She’s now our full-time writer since our website allows her to know more about the hobby of her lifetime – sewing.
A professional fashion designer and seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step instructions on how to sew a summer skirt.
Last updated: August 11, 2021
Although they may seem nothing special, quilting needles really have to pack a punch. This is because they have to continuously go through layers of fabric without wearing out to give you your perfect quilt. This is also why there is such a wide variety of quilting needles available to choose from. Since every hand-made quilt is different, you will need to pair it up with the right quilting needle.
Choosing the best hand quilting needles to complement your project involves finding the correct width, length, height and sharpness of the needle. But that can get overwhelming. That’s why we’ve compiled the six best options to consider before you start quilting. Our editor’s pick is a great place to start as the UA Crafts Needles give you everything you need in a sturdy quilting needle. You have the sizes, durability, and quality suited to any type of quilting and beyond.
Follow suit with our other recommendations whether you are looking for betweens, embroidery needles, sharps, milliners or sashiko needles, there is one on our list for your satisfaction. We look at important features like needle material, shape, point, eye size and length to help you find the best fit for your project. To help you find the right one, our experts have put together a tabular comparison of their best recommendations followed by in-depth product descriptions of each. Finally, there is a comprehensive buying guide to let you in on all the ins-and-outs of hand quilting so that you can get the most out of your experience.
Top 6 Hand Quilting Needles Review 2019
UA Crafts Large-eye Hand Sewing Needles – Editor’s Choice
Needle length: 2.3’’, 2.05’’
More features: two tubes pack, rust resistant, sharp tip
For our Editor’s pick, the UA Crafts large-eye hand sewing needles are an overall excellent choice for quilting. They are the perfect needles for nearly all types of quilting, from stitching thicker fabrics to smaller decorating.
These Japan-made needles come in a rather well-valued set of 15 needles with 5 larger needles (58.4 mm in length) and 10 smaller ones (52.1 mm in length). Such sizes make them suitable for various applications outside of quilting as well.
They are high in production quality and made with a durable rust-resistant steel that can endure use with thicker quilting fabrics. A bigger needle is recommended for things like leather, however, as some report the UA needles can break easier under use with leather.
The needles have large eyes for easy threading of yarn when quilting, or just threading easier without the need for a threader. They’re on the sharp side and glide easily through even the most tightly woven fabric.
The 15 needles come in two clear vials for easy storage, one vial for each size of needle.
What makes it stand out?
Durable needle that can last you a long time
Large eyes make threading easier
Easy storage vial containers
Good overall value
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
More prone to breaking when working with tough leather
Outus Large-Eye Stitching Needles – Best for Leather
If you’re looking for a needle to work with leather, you’ll need a larger, tougher needle that won’t snap under the pressure. The Outus large-eye stitching needles are the betweens for the job. With a better thickness, these are the best hand quilting needles strong enough to take on tougher leathers with minimum difficulty, so you don’t have to worry about getting your project or repair job done.
With an impressive 20 pack set of needles of one size, buying this set will be a worthwhile purchase that will last for a very long time. The 1.25 mm thick shaft of the needles and the longer body make them able to take on tougher fabrics such as leather, thick cloths, and canvas shoes all without breaking.
These are large eye needles making it easy to thread yarn without using a threader, and easier to use for those who can’t see close up as well.
These needles have a rather sharp tip and a polished surface, and while they make for a great smooth gliding combination, some users find them a bit too sharp for leather. And if not careful, these needles can damage the fabric.
Why did it make our list?
Larger size and durability
Set of 20 needles will last a long time
Large eye for easy threading
Sharp and polished, smooth stitching
What is not ideal about it?
A bit sharp for leather
Tulip Long Sashiko Needles Assorted – Best Professional
Needle length: 1.75’’, 2’’, 2.75’’
Material: nickel plated steel
More features: carton pack and clear tube, sharp smooth tip, polished
Tulip Long is a popular name among sewing professionals, with well-made quality products made from Japan. We recommend their assorted sashiko set as the best hand quilting needles for professionals.
Specially made for sashiko stitching but suitable for any kind of quilting, these Tulip needles were made for thicker threads and fabrics. This set of 6 comes with two needles of each size, those being 44.5 mm, 50.8 mm, and 69.9 mm in length. They arrive in a carton pack, but also include a clear vial for easy reusable storage.
These needles include a sharp and smooth tip for precise stitching in closely-woven fabrics, while the wider diameter makes it ideal for looser fabric and quilting. They are quite useful in several applications outside of quilting as well.
These needles do have traditionally small eyes, meaning you’ll likely need a threader for thicker strings.
Do be wary that shipping from afar may mean a slightly lower quality control depending on the shipper and there have been a few cases of missing one or two needles upon delivery.
What are its best features?
Reliable brand name
High quality needles specially made for quilting
Comes in 3 different sizes
What could be improved?
Harder threading due to smaller eye
Quality control could be better
Colonial Needle HW250-10 – Best with Large Eye
Needle length: 1.5’’
More features: carton pack
These high-quality English-made needles are the best small-eye betweens on this list. While on the smaller side, these needles from Colonial are excellent for hand quilting and adding the right decorative touches.
The rather short 38.1 mm length shouldn’t have you fooled though. These are both lightweight and durable quilting needles. With this length it’s much easier to create finer handmade details in your projects, so you can decorate them the way you like.
Categorized as milliner or straw needles, this variety of quilting needles has a smaller, roundish eye with a body or shaft of the same thickness as the eye with a sharp tip. Quilters prefer this type when they have free-motion stitches such as stippling to work with. Milliners work really well where smaller, more condensed stipples are used for quilting.
These needles come in a set of 16 and in a carton packaging, so while you don’t get a reusable container with this purchase, you can always store and easily find your needles in the stylish packaging.
What do we love it for?
Lightweight yet durable
Length is perfect for hand quilting
Ideal for finer handmade details in quilting
What were we disappointed with?
No reusable vial included
Dritz 3047 Quilter's Basting Hand Needles – Best for Basting
Needle length: 2.25’’
More features: sharp point, carton pack, 1/32’’ thick
The Dritz 3047 Quilter’s hand needles are specially made for basting, and are thus the best needles on the list for the job. Dritz is a well-known and reliable name, with a reputation for great quality sewing needles, so you can be sure you’re getting dependable, durable needles that will go a long time before breaking.
These quilter’s basting needles are long and fine, and make their way through a tighter fabric like a quilt with ease, even for loose stitches like in the case of basting.
They come in a pack of 6, all made with a decent length of 57.75 mm. At only 1/32” thick, they are easy on lightweight or tightly woven fabrics and are easy to hold. They are understandably sharp, requiring minimal effort in creating stitches through most fabrics.
The eyes on these needles are considerably large, meaning no hassle when threading is involved.
Some users have reported issues with the packaging, though it doesn’t necessarily concern the quality of the needles themselves.
What makes it stand out?
Reliable name and quality for needles
Long and slim, perfect for basting
Easy to hold
Won’t create overt holes in tightly woven fabrics
Large eye for easy threading
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Colonial Needle JJ60400 – Budget Pick
Needle length: 2’’, 2.5’’
More features: curved, 1mm thick, sharp point
Yet another set of needles from Colonial, this list’s budget pick is a set of curved needles that come at a friendly price to any novice or learning quilter who is willing to try something like this out.
These are good quality English-made needles made from durable steel and not likely to break under tough use. The JJ60400 needles come in a set of 4 with 2 sizes: the shorter one is 50.8 mm in length while the longer ones are 63.5 mm in length. These needles are 1mm thick, meaning they’re suitable for nearly any thickness or type of fabric. They are sharp enough to go through leather, but not necessarily strong enough for stitching heavy leather.
The style of needles makes them great for adding additional designs to quilting projects, but can work well too for any basic hand sewing function.
Some buyers, while they enjoy these needles for their quality and functionality, find the longer sizes are longer than ideal length for curved sewing needles
What are its best features?
Good quality and durability
Thickness and shape make them work well for any fabric
Sharp enough for leather
What could be improved?
Will break under work with heavy leather
Larger sizes are longer than expected
Things to Consider
Before you can dive into the hobby or passion of quilting, there are a couple of considerations you must run through. There are a lot of aspects and equipment you’ll need to familiarize yourself with before you can think about investing in this hobby.
Sewing machines, fabrics, threads, stitches, and needles are all important things that you have to consider when quilting. The most important of all these things; needles are the key to this entire hobby, otherwise you won’t be, quilting, or sewing anything together anytime soon!
Why to choose special needles for hand quilting
While you are hand quilting, there are three layers you to have to push the needle through; the top, batting, and backing. For this, you will need a strong needle that is durable and can penetrate the materials without ruining them.
Normal needles will not be able to push through the three different materials, while other specialized needles might be too sharp and loosen the threads inside of the batting. In fact, needles not intended for quilting can cause the needle to break, present problems working with the chosen fabric or end up with poor stitch quality.
The needles you are looking for are quilting needles, also labeled as betweens. They are short and have a rounded eye for easier control and more precise stitches.
Buying a needle pack is not that much of a hassle. Quality quilting needles can come underneath $10. Needles are not the expense you should worry about when you are investing in quilting for a pastime. Feel free to stock on your needles as much as you can in one go.
Features to consider while buying the best hand quilting needles
Hand quilting needles are different from other standard needles, as explained before. This means there is a different criterion for these types of needles to follow to find quality products.
Needles are constructed out of carbon steel, platinum, or titanium alloy. They have a metal coating over top of their construction to make sure the shank is smooth. This ensures that the needle goes through fabrics quicker and does not get stuck while you are stitching.
All needles are shaped in one generic body, it is the components of this body that are interchangeable to determine what type of needle you are holding. There is the eye of the needle, which is the hole on the top of the needle. The eye can be shaped differently depending on the type of stitching you will be doing with it and the string you will be using.
The long body of the needle is called the shank. The thickness of the shank along with the length become smaller the bigger the size of the needle is.
In instances where quilting involves creating fabric boxes, quilters like to use curved needles. These needles make sewing stiffened pieces of fabric together much easier and give the quilt a neater finish. The Colonial Needle JJ60400 comes highly recommended when you wish to use a curved quilting needle.
Sharp or blunt?
Since quilting calls for a stronger, more durable needle that can push through three layers at once, you will always want to have a sharper needle with you. These will make your job easier as well as more precise. All our featured models come with a sharp tip for easy quilting.
Blunt needles can be used on thinner fabrics, where pushing through the fibers is not as problematic. Standard needles are typically more blunt than quilting needles.
Quantity in a pack
The number of needles you get in a packet isn’t as much of a matter of the variety you get in the packet. A packet can have 10 pieces, another packet can have 60 pieces! If you are new to the quilting world, try as many different types of quilting needles as you can to see which one is right for you. You can then purchase this type of needle in bulk. Needles do tend to blunt quickly, so it is recommended to have many extras on you.
The eye is where you insert the thread or string through the needle. When it comes to quilting, you can use thin and thicker threads depending on your preference. Quilting needles often come with wider eyes to allow for a thicker string to pass through.
The UA Crafts Large-eye Hand Sewing Needles, along with the Outus Large-Eye Stitching Needles, Dritz 3047 Quilter’s Basting Hand Needles and Colonial Needle JJ60400 are all excellent choices for large eye quilting needles.
The length of a needle is measured backward. The bigger the measurement is, the smaller the needle will be. The sizes for betweens are from 3 to 12, with 12 being the smallest size you can get. It is recommended for beginners to get an 8 or 9 sized needle to see if you perform better with either a bigger or smaller needle.
Hand quilting advice
Quilters will find a significant difference in the quality of their finished work when they start using a needle designed for their specific discipline. Once you have considered your needle fully, it is time to look at the other factors of quilting that really make it unique.
Always look out for the type of thread you are using. Try to match it as close as possible as you can to the fabric you are using. There are also numerous conditioners you can use over your threads to make sure they do not turn into knots.
Your hands should be positioned one over the quilt and one underneath at all times. Placing your hands like this will ensure that you can easily weave the string in, out, up, and down through the fabric with quick fluent motions.
Rather than pulling on the string all the way, load the strings on your needle. After loading a couple of stitches, pull the thread gently so the tension is even. Keep doing this and your quilting project should be done quicker with a more even finish.
For further advice and basic tips on quilting, take a look at the following video:
Just remember that with the right needle and technique in hand, you will notice an improvement in your quilting skills. You will also experience greater enjoyment in your needlework because your project will flow more easily.
Whether you want to quilt with a machine or by hand is entirely based on preference. Quilting with a machine makes it easier and quicker to get the job done. It also secures all of your quilting pieces into a stronger, more durable piece with greater functionality. Not every sewing machine is going to have quilting options, which may limit your variety. Quilting by hand, however, offers a greater amount of personality, uniqueness, and creativity in your work, something that you may value over time and convenience.
There are specific needles for different types of materials to penetrate the fibers better and ensure the stitch work is done right. Quilting needles have rounded points and are designed to withstand machine quilting. The most common size for quilting needles is 90/14.
It is possible for you to quilt leather with hand quilting needles. There are more specific needles that can work with leather, such as the ‘Glover’s’ needles. The needle has a triangular shape which allows it to cut through the material while you are quilting. This sharper point allows the needle to cut through the fabric without making any rips or causing any damage.
The best hand quilting needles on this list would have to be the UA Crafts large-eye hand sewing needles. They’re excellent in everything they can do when it comes to quilting, and for the quality and quantity of needles you get, they come at a great value too.
For thicker fabrics and even leather, the best option we recommend is the 20 pack Outus large-eye sewing needles set for the job. They’re durable, of course, and easy to hold, use and thread. The best part is that while they’re unlikely to break when used, the pack of 20 needles should be good enough to last you a lifetime.
The best hand-quilting needles for the seasoned quilter would be the Tulip Long sashiko needle set. Made for the traditional art of sashiko stitching, these high-quality needles are just as functional for anything other than quilting, and you won’t be disappointed from a reliable name like Tulip.