The art of embroidery began sometime during 16th century Europe. The technique caught on quite rapidly among the upper crust of society. It is easy to imagine how the splendor of this stunning and delicate artwork brought even more beauty to ball gowns, bags, hats, gloves, and summer parasols.
The technique started in France, but it wasn’t long before English ladies began to take up the craft and make it their own. Interest in this type of work waned for a while, but it didn’t take long for interest to pique once again.
If you’re interested in ribbon embroidery, what is the best needle to use? As a general rule, chenille needles are the best choice for ribbon embroidery. This type isn’t like regular sewing or stitching needles. They are larger overall, have larger eyes, and a very sharp tip.
Ribbon embroidery is more complex than regular embroidery, but once you master this craft, you will be glad you did. All you need is to learn a few basic stitches and then you’re off to the races. In no time, you will be creating marvelous floral designs that will definitely earn you some bragging rights.
Ribbon Vs Floss Embroidery – What’s The Difference?
The difference between ribbon embroidery and floss embroidery is obvious – you use ribbon instead of floss.
For ribbon embroidery, ribbon is stitched onto a pre-printed or transferred design. The designs can be further embellished with embroidery floss and beads or other objects.
This craft looks deceptively complicated because of the elaborate, bold ribbon designs. In fact it is quite simple once you understand the basics.
Try a ribbon embroidery kit, like this beautiful swan one, to get your feet wet. Practicing with these kits is the fastest way to master this craft.
The biggest advantage of using the ribbon embroidery technique is that you can complete a project in less time than with floss embroidery because the ribbon covers a much larger area. You need fewer stitches and less materials, so it is much less expensive, as well.
On the downside, the ribbon is extremely delicate, so anything you embellish with ribbon must be handled and maintained with extra care. On items, such as wall hangings that require very little maintenance, ribbon embroidery is ideal.
On another note, if you want to learn to tie the perfect bow with satin ribbon, read this article.
Types of Ribbon Embroidery Needles
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to chose the right needle for ribbon embroidery. The needle can make the difference between a disaster and a beautiful work of art. Plus, the right needle for the job means less wasted ribbon because the wrong needle can actually damage the delicate fibers of the ribbon.
For ribbon embroidery, I recommend using a chenille needle. Popular chenille needles include:
- Size 24 – 2mm wide ribbon.
- Size 18 – 4mm to 7mm wide ribbon.
- Size 13 – 13mm wide ribbon.
After looking these over, you are wondering why they are so big and thick. There is a simple answer – the ribbon is fairly thick.
You need a large needle to make a hole big enough for the ribbon to pass through unscathed, and you need a long eye that won’t crimp the ribbon.
A thinner needle with a small eye would not make a hole big enough. Plus, you would have a very hard time getting the ribbon through the eye, meaning you would have to use thinner strips of ribbon which will affect the outcome of your project. It is the broad ribbon that gives this type of embroidery its flare.
Ribbon is very delicate, especially the high-end stuff. The more you pull it through a tiny hole, the more it will wear. By the time you are finished, you could be left with nothing more than a thin thread. That is also why it is important not to use too much ribbon at a time.
Shorter lengths, not more than about 12 inches don’t have to pass through the fabric as often and thereby still look sharp and crisp when you are finished.
Additionally, it is much more difficult to pass a thin needle with a wide ribbon through the fabric you are embellishing. It takes much more effort, takes much longer and will probably bend or break your needle before you are done.
Note: the larger the number, the smaller the needle. A 20 or 24 is much smaller than a 13.
Some experts recommend choosing smaller sizes like a 20 or 24 chenille needle when working with a 4mm ribbon so as to not make such a big hole. However, the majority of ribbon embroiderers advise against this.
The reason is that smaller needles with larger ribbon ruins the ribbon. This method works okay with satin ribbon, which is stiffer and tougher, but the fine silk can not stand up to this abuse.
On projects where the ribbon doesn’t have to pass through the fabric, such as the spider’s web stitch, this isn’t an issue. You can use a smaller needle or even a tapestry needle instead of a chenille.
The most important thing to remember when choosing a needle is use one that allows the ribbon to lay in the eye loosely. The ribbon should never be crumpled or creased.
The 5 Best Needles for Ribbon Embroidery
Here are some great needles for ribbon embroidery.
|1.||Dritz Ribbon Embroidery Needles||14 Needles|
|2.||John James Colonial Needles||25 Needles|
|3.||Clover Embroidery Needles||16 Needles|
|4.||UA Crafts Stitching Needles||30 Needles|
|5.||Outus Large-Eye Blunt Needles||9 Needles|
1. Dritz Ribbon Embroidery Needles
Dritz needles are perfect for a variety of home décor projects. This is a handy set of needles to have around the house. This package contains different types of needles, but for our purposes, we’re focusing on the size 18 and 20 chenille needles.
The needles are equipped with very large eyes to accommodate thicker ribbon. These heavy-duty needles are a great value for your money. They will have you looking for new projects to create and more items to mend!
- Heavy duty
- A good collection of sizes
- Smooth design makes sewing jobs quicker and easier
- Only works with ribbon that’s 2-7mm wide, anything else will be too big
2. John James Colonial Needles
These silk ribbon embroidery needles by John James are made in the United Kingdom and are high-quality needles.
The collection includes 25 assorted steel needles, meaning they’re nice and sharp for piercing through the ribbon.
Not only do they include a wide variety of other needles, but it includes sizes 26, 24, 18, 13 chenille needles, which is perfect for any ribbon embroidery project!
- Lots of needles are included in this 25-pack, so you can use the needles for plenty of different projects
- Some of the needles might be too short, depending on your project
3. CLOVER Gold Eye Embroidery Needles
These gold-eye embroidery needs are best for either cotton or ribbon embroidery, with the sizes ranging from 3-9, meaning they are better suited for thinner fabrics.
Ideally, you’d use these for floss embroidery, but if you’re dealing with smaller ribbons, these will do the trick!
It’s the perfect set for beginners because it comes in so many sizes. If you’re looking for a starter set, this could be it.
- Versatile needles that also work well with cross-stitch projects
- Perfect for floss embroidery
- Made of weak materials, so they won’t stand against tough or thick fabric
4. UA Crafts Stitching Needles
These are some serious large-eye needles that will work great for wide, thick ribbons. You get 30 needles in 3 different sizes, including 51mm 56mm, and 61mm needles.
As a bonus, they come with clear storage tube for easy organization.
These needles are very thick, so they will work best with easily piercable fabrics, like silk and cotton.
- Very large eyes, so you won’t have an issue looping the ribbon inside
- Because they’re so thick, they can seem blunt when trying to pierce tough fabrics
5. Outus Large-Eye Blunt Needles
Made with up to 7cm of stainless steel, these needles are the largest and sturdiest of the bunch.
They have purposefully blunt tips for easy handling. They’re perfect decorative weaving projects, such as large ribbon embroidery.
The blunt tips make it easy to pierce through the loosely woven fabric, making them ideal for embroidering on burlap or wool.
These also come with a storage tub for easy organization. Score!
- Large, blunt tip that pierces loose fabric easily
- These massive needles might be too big for some ribbons