If your base fabric is an even-woven fabric, such as Aida cloth, you won’t need sharp needles, since the material is already porous. For cross-stitch, said Nassar, “definitely don’t get sharp needles—these will scratch your fingers, get caught in the fabric (or make it easy for you to go in the wrong spot on your fabric), and even split the thread as you pull it through.” Instead, you can use blunt needles, sometimes called “tapestry needles.” Nassar recommends buying a multipack to figure out which size feels right and works best for your thread and fabric. “Too big of a needle (and eye) will stretch holes in the fabric unnecessarily,” Nassar said. Too small, and it’ll be impossible to thread.
Colby noted that freestyle embroidery requires a hoop to keep fabric flat; however, Nassar advises forgoing a hoop with counted stitch techniques. “A hoop will just slow you down, making you move your hands back and forth in front of and behind the work, constantly feeling around for the right spot to insert the needle,” he said. Instead, he suggested that you “roll the fabric in your non-dominant hand until your thumb is around the area you’re working on. Then, use your dominant hand for stitching, going in and out in one motion.”