This section is from the book "Text-Book On Domestic Art", by Carrie Crane Ingalls. Also available from Amazon: Textbook On Domestic Art: With Illustrations And Drafts.
1. Betweens (short, tailor) 1-12
2. Sharps (medium) 1-12
3. Milliners (long) 3-10
5. Darning (sharp point, long eye; larger than embroidery) 0-9.
1. Betweens are used by tailors for very fine hemming such as finishing coat collars. The Chinese use Nos. 9 and 10 for embroidery.
2. Sharps are used for all ordinary sewing and plain stitches.
3. Milliners are used for basting and millinery.
5. Darning are used for mending and weaving.
A needle is a small, sharp, pointed instrument, either straight or curved, and is used to carry thread thru different kinds of fabrics, paper, leather and other materials. The origin of the needle is unknown, tho its earliest usage dates back to China, where are found the smallest needles in the world. The first needle factory was built in Germany in 1730. There are over 150 varieties now manufactured for sewing alone and, in the course of manufacture, one needle passes thru 22 processes and is handled by 70 different pairs of hands. They are made of best steel wire, being cut twice the length of one needle, with the eyes in the center. The best needles pass thru many degrees of tempering. Oil is now used for hardening in place of water which tended to make them crooked. A good needle will neither bend nor rust; it breaks. Needles are constructed differently, being curved or blunt at the point, or having round or oval eye in the center as the machine needle, or at one end as the plain sewing needle.
Most of the standard sewing needles as well as the Crewel needles are manufactured in England. Machine manufacturers usually make their own needles. Machine needles are divided into the round and flat shank sometimes with a groove on one side as in the automatic or chain stitch machine; the flat shank is most used on a lock stitch machine, differing in length according to the make of the machine but not varying in size as do hand needles. Nos. 0 to 4 are average sizes while 1 to 12 are hand needles.
The size of the needle generally corresponds to the number on the spool of cotton thread in hand sewing, as No. 7 needle for 70 cotton, while the machine sizes run one size needle for two or three numbers of thread or silk, as No. 2 needle with 60, 70 and 80 thread.