Many hand sewing jobs can easily be done with one of a regular set of household or sharps needles but there are certain times when choosing the right needle for the job will make the for easier and neater work.
Sharps Needles - these are general use needles which have a round, medium sized eye and a very sharp point. They come in a variety of different sizes, where the size denotes the thickness of the needle ~(see needle sizes below). A pack of needles will generally contain needles of varying length and gauge so you can choose which is appropriate for the type of thread and fabric you are sewing. These needles are used for a variety of hand sewing tasks such as hemming.
Betweens Needles - these needles are primarily used for quilting. They have a shorter length and smaller eye which allows for quicker stitching. They are also useful for more detailed stitch work.
Easy Thread Needles - these needles have a cut in the top of the eye of the needle which allows the thread to be pulled into the eye, rather than threaded through. This is perfect for those who have difficulty threading needles.
Household Needles - these packets of needles contain a variety of different needles for general use, including some longer, thicker needles with a longer eye. Ideal for sewing badges onto cubs uniforms!
Embroidery/Crewel - these needles are the same size and length as the sharps needles but they have a longer eye to allow for threading multiple threads. The most common sizes (see below) for embroidery needles are 7-9. These needles can also be used for general sewing for people who find it difficult to thread needles as they are much easier to thread.
Needles come in sizes 1-12 where 1 is the thickest needle and 12 is the finest in gauge. Generally a packet of needles will contain more than one size. For example, size 3/9 contains a selection of needles from sizes 3-9, 3 being one of the thicker sized needles and 9 being a finer gauge, whereas size 5/10 contains a selection of needles in sizes 5 through to 10, so generally a finer gauge selection.