Needlepoint Tacks

June 9, 2016Supplies Standard

If you’re like me, you’ve never thought about needlepoint tacks.

That is, until something bad happens. The tacks you bought rusted and left marks on your canvas. Every tack you used bent when you removed it and can’t be used more than once. The tacks fell apart, literally, when you removed them.

I used to think all tacks were the same, but they’re not. Some are outstanding to use for needlepoint, some are OK, and some should never be used.


Brass Needlepoint Tacks: These are the Japanese tacks you find in needlepoint shops. They do not rust. If you live in a humid environment, they are the only tacks you should use. Because they are bras over stainless steel, you can use magnets on them.

Their points are sharper than most other tacks. This makes them an excellent choice for those with poor hand strength because they are easier to press into the frame.

Quilter’s Tacks: Made for attaching quilts to a frame, these are my excerllent tacks for needlepoint. Because quilts are both thick and heavy, these tacks have longer, thicker shafts. For us, that means they dig deeper into the frame and won’t bend as easily. They have larger heads than regular tacks, which makes them easier to pull out. They are made from stainless steel, so magnets will work to pick them up. Buy them at sewing or quilting stores.


Hardware Store Tacks: Look for tacks which have painted or unpainted, not plastic, tops. This assures you that the tack is made in one piece, not in two. Because of the stress on needlepoint tacks, this is very important.

When the tack is a single piece, you will be able to remove the tack completely. Because these tacks are made from stainless steel, you can use magnets on them. Because their heads are small you can use a tack tool, like the Corjac or EZ-Tack-It. These tools have a holder with a magnetized head made to hold the tack and a bulbous handle on the other end which makes it easier to drive the tack in. The EZ-Tack-It says it will work with quilter’s tacks.


Push Pins: Needless to say, these pins with high tops will make it hard to stitch and will catch your threads.

Map Pins: The round heads will catch the threads and the shafts are too short to hold needlepoint canvas securely.

Plastic-headed Tacks: These are the tacks you find in office supply stores these days. The plastic head makes them appear to be made in one piece, but they are not. The head is a thin disc of brass with a hole punched in it. The shaft is put through the hole and the top end of it hammered flat; it is secured in no other way. Because of this, quite often, the top pulls out without the shaft, leaving you with a tack that is hard to remove left in the frame. In addition, the shafts aren’t thick and bend easily. They can be used in a pinch, but avoid them as much as possible.

Now you know what needlepoint tacks to use and why. I keep my tacks in metal tins in the drawer of my stitching table. As soon as I finish a piece, I take it off the stretcher bars and put the tacks into the tin. That way I always know where my tacks are and can find them easily.