When is it time to ditch the 24 size needle?

When is it time to ditch the 24 size needle?

with 10 Comments

This is a guest post by the very talented UK cross stitch designer, Lord Libidan. I hope you enjoy his tutorial on needle sizes! 


The cross stitch needle guide is a pretty well-known table by now, with clear instructions on when to use a set size needle. However, after years of cross stitch I’ve come to realise that the table isn’t actually that good. You see, I often find myself throwing out what it suggests and using something completely different instead. Today, I’m going to go over times when the standard needle guide just isn’t cutting the mustard.

gold cross stitch needles

Gold Needles

First up is a gold needle. The principle of a gold needle is it helps the needle slide through the aida, effectively making the needle slip through. This is great; however, the gold quickly rubs off. The reason? The gold is applied to the surface of a normal needle, this means the needle is slightly wider than the number would suggest. By using a smaller size, you stop the needle rubbing so much, and on top of that it slides through far easier (which you’ll want considering you picked a gold needle).

Petite Needles

Next up is petite needles. Once again, the point of these is they slide through the aida much better. However, people aren’t as keen on them as they should be, they tend to slip right through and no one really wants that. However, did you know a petite is roughly 2 sizes smaller than the number its given? So instead of using a 24 standard, using a 22 petite has the same effect as a gold needle. What makes this even better is the petites last longer as the coating doesn’t rub off, and they’re a lot cheaper.

Work you view up close

We then start getting into more unusual times. If you have a piece that you see up close and personal, it might be a good idea to drop down to a smaller needle. The reason for this is the standard needle size pushes the aida apart a little. Not much of an issue when you’re looking from a far, but up close you can start seeing light through the stitched work. Dropping a needle size not only stops this, but gives you a better hang, making railroading MUCH easier.

Work you wear

Up until now we’ve been talking about using smaller sized needles. But if you’re wearing cross stitch, a larger needle might be what you need. The larger needles push apart the canvas more, making a larger hole. However, by doing this is pushes the fabric to its maximum. If you don’t do that, the stitches can loosen over time, especially with regular wear.

needles in tube

Plastic Canvas

Finally, we have plastic canvas. I use plastic a lot, and frankly its a wonderful thing, but it rubs needles raw. I regularly had to change needles during projects, until I realised dropping to a smaller needle stops the rub; saves the needle and makes stitching a breeze.


However, that said, I implore you all to always question the guide. MrXStitch actually uses two sizes smaller needles for his projects, using gold petite needles no less. As a result, its best to find what works for you.

If you’re interested in all things needles, we recently looked into Why cross stitch needles are given weird numbers.

10 Responses

  1. Avis
    | Reply

    Do you have a recommendation for whom sells good needles?

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Hi Avis! I didn’t write this article, it was guest written by the designer Lord Libidan, so I’m not sure where he buys the needles he mentions (and he’s in the UK too, so depending on where you are that might not have been helpful anyway). Here’s a post I did about various types of needles for cross stitch, and there are links and mentions of some shops that sell them. 🙂 https://peacockandfig.com/2017/10/cross-stitch-needles/

  2. Kate
    | Reply

    Great discussion!

    Smaller needles are fine for Aida where the hole is large enough for the thread. However if the needle is forging the hole through fabric for the thread to follow, for example through linen, the needle needs to be large enough to make room for the thread. Otherwise the thread will drag through the tiny hole and wear out with repeated stitching. So for linen and cotton, the size of the needle must match the thread and the fabric..

  3. Mary Margaret Schlais
    | Reply

    How do you thread these smaller needles I am using #26 on 14count Aida and I have a job threading them.

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Hi Mary Margaret! You’d have to experiment as some methods work better than others. I’d recommend having a look at this tutorial I did, it demonstrates a whole range of needle threaders. Hopefully one of them looks like it might work for you! 🙂

  4. Teresa
    | Reply

    Great information. I came back to cross stitch last July and bought a set of gold needles before Christmas. Had use it occasionally (size 24) but haven’t noticed any color fading yet.

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      That’s good Teresa! It depends on your hands, like my fingers can wear the finish off most needles in days. I guess my sassy sense of humour means my hands are a little more acidic, who knows… 🙂

  5. Chris
    | Reply

    Good to know. I prefer petites as I can generally use #26 for beading. Rarely do I use $24.

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Yeah I’ve started using the Easy Guide needles, they’re like a regular sewing needle with a little ball on the end. 🙂 As long as you know what you’re happiest with, that’s the most important thing. 🙂

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