-I purchased my paper stock templates from paperpieces.com. They are precision cut, and oh, so accurate.
-Glue-basting is my preferred method of preparing my shapes, so I use a water-soluble glue pen (Sewline).
-My thread of choice is "Bottom Line," a 2-ply polyester by superiorthreads.com. They even have a ring available with an assortment of colors to aid the matching process. Light grey is also good at blending with multiple colors.
Sooooo, I don't have a preferred needle to recommend at this time. (Several have been harmed in construction thus far). I have snapped multiple brands, sizes, etc. and I know its related to my technique.
FYI timeline: I've been chugging along with this project off & on for about five months, starting and completing other quilts and machine sewing in the meantime. Taking an occasional break to work on something else has often helped me refocus with this! As you can see, quality control is pretty fierce around here...