Our recent post on needle threaders has been a bit of a runaway success, however, I’ve had a few people ask a simple question; what about self-threading needles?
I must admit, that despite owning a pack, I never actually tried them out, so I threw caution to the wind and threaded a few needles.
What are self threading needles?
To start, let’s talk about the elephant in the room; self-threading needles are needles that say they can make threading super easy. Most often they’re marketed for people with arthritis or poor eyesight, however, anyone who hates the game of ‘poke the thread through the hole’ can stand to benefit.
It should also be said that there are multiple types of self-threading needle, however, they mostly come into two camps; V-shaped and spiral. We picked up a few packs of self threading needles from Etsy to give a good diversity.
V-Shaped Self Threading Needles
These V-shaped needles have actually been around for a really long time, and as a result have a whole raft of names including “self-threading”, “French Spring eye” or “Calyx eye”, however, they all have the same design. Simply put, you pull the thread down, through the two ‘clips’ which hold the thread in place. I had to try a few times before I got the system, as whilst it seems simple, doing it in real life isn’t as easy. I found that having a block to place the needle in so you could pull the thread through helped.
However, I wasn’t impressed. There are three reasons I just couldn’t get on board with these needles. The first was how annoying they were to thread. It honestly took me about 5 tries to thread the needle each time. Those 5 times weren’t all sunny times either, as they kept breaking the thread. I mean, these things break thread better than my scissors. However, I can foresee myself getting better as time goes on.
The biggest issue for me though, was how painful it was to push the needle through the aida. Whilst needles are far from soft, the rounded edges make it slightly easier on the fingers, but these needles are like two little prongs stabbing me every time I pushed down. Not fun. I found the only solution was a thimble, which really gets in the way of cross stitching…
Spiral Self Threading Needles
Despite the V-shaped needles being far older, more often than not the only self-threading tapestry needles you can find are the spiral type. This is down to how bulky the self-threading mechanism is, however in our size tests they were no larger than ordinary needles. Unlike their V-shaped counterparts, you thread them on the side, which is MUCH easier, and frankly, lives up to the idea of being suitable for those with bad eyesight and arthritis. However, there are downsides too.
Specifically, we found two issues. The first was how often the needles caught on the aida, thanks to the side design the needle effectively has a hook, which caught on every 3 to 4 stitches, however with a slight change in how you stitch this can be avoided; but is practically worthless to those with reduced mobility. The second issue relates to the first in the sense that the eye of the needle breaks far faster, which isn’t too bad of a problem on its own, but these needles are expensive.
Are they worth it?
So, we finally get to the answer to the original question, of are self thread needles worth it. In my opinion; no. That isn’t to say they don’t have a purpose, I truly think that for some its a great idea, but with so many great needle threaders out there, that I just don’t think it’s worth it.