We love a good machine-sewn project as much as the next person (we use five sewing machines between us!), but sometimes hand sewing is best for finishing, mending, or for special projects. Using the right needle is ⅓ of the battle in using quality materials for your hand work.
We have a theory that a lot of people who “hate to hand sew” haven’t used the right hand needles for them or their task. If shoes came in one size, everyone outside of that size wouldn’t like shoes very much. Needle length/ type should match the person’s hand size and what they are trying to do.
We currently carry two brands of needles: Sajou and Hiroshima.
Both Sajou and Hiroshima needles are very high quality even though they come from different manufacturing traditions. Sajou needles are made in France by a firm that began in the 1830’s. They are packaged in cardboard books printed with designs from the 1830’s- 1930’s. The books protect the needles during shipping and in your sewing basket, and make it easy to find the one you want to use. If you practice historical sewing from the 1830’s forward, Sajou is a good choice if you want your sewing kit to have an era-specific look (or if you just love cats, the Eiffel Tower, or any one of the other adorable designs that Sajou produces).
Hiroshima Needles have been made in Japan for more than 300 years by a firm that currently produces about 90% of the needles and pins made in Japan. Sometimes sold under the Tulip brand name, they are packaged in a plastic tube closed with a cork. This protects the needles and is a sturdy, reliable needle case, but can make pulling the right one from an assortment a good reason to have a magnet handy!
For needles of the same size and type (the two brands produce speciality needles that do not entirely overlap), here is how they compare.
|Eye||Slightly smaller and rounder, with a larger landing area||Slightly larger and longer, with a smaller landing area|
|Polishing||All are smoothly polished||Most types are polished lengthwise|
|Flexibility||More stiff||More flexible|
|Length||Very slightly longer for the same type
#9 sewing is 34 mm long
|#9 sewing is 33.3 mm long|
|Cost for one standard sewing needle||$0.20||$1.20|
|Highest cost per extreme speciality needle||Up to $6.75
Heavy-duty mattress needle
250mm X 2mm
|Up to $4.80
39.4mm X .96mm
|Range of Types Readily Available||15 types||13 types|
Do we have a favorite? It depends on the task! That’s why we carry and use them both.
We offer a full assortment of Sajou needles in one lot at https://www.etsy.com/listing/702552637/sajou-needle-assortment-pack-72-needles
Our Hiroshima needles in their original sets are in the “Notions” section of our shop.
If you want to try a different type of needle or have a favorite you can’t find somewhere else, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to source it for you.