Before sewing needles were made thorns or fish bones were used to do the job of joining two pieces of fabric together.
Needles made from copper, silver and bronze were used in ancient Egypt. The oldest iron needle known was found in Germany and dates back to 3rd century B.C.
Metal needle making was used by Muslims in Spain in the 11th century. When Muslims were driven out of Spain in the 15th century they took the knowledge of needle making with them to Arab lands. Muslims returned to make them and Arab traders took them to Europe.
Europe learned the art of needle making from Arab needle makers and it came to England in the 17th century.
By 1860 there were 100 million needles being made in England a year. Redditch is famous for making needles.
Today they are made in a wide range of types, sizes and gauges designed for different uses. In some cases the eye of the needle is a long to make threading easier. The exception to this is the needle used for metal work. This has a round eye so that the precious threads are held still and protected during work.