Sunday, May 29, 2011

Needle Books & Basic Tutorial

Last week I finished up the needle books that a woman ordered from me as a custom commission.  She saw me stitching (when Bruce had his first outpatient arm surgery earlier this month), saw my needle book and asked me to make three needle books for herself and her two daughters. So, I figured I would just make a fourth once so I could list it in my Etsy.

Well, she came by last week and bought all four! I guess that’s good news, LOL. Here is how these simple needle books finished up.

Finished Needlebooks

She had seen me using a simple needle book with mixed fabrics and a cotton interior.  Therefore,  the ones I made her all had cotton interiors as well.   

The needle pages, however, are wool felt for better moisture wicking properties.

I used to put closures (frogs or ribbon ties) on my needle books, but found that they are unnecessary and are more trouble than they’re worth. Not to mention more work. And if you are making these to sell, it makes them more cost efficient.

Making a simple needle book is easy and quick.  First, decide the size you would like the book to be, then double it (to allow for a front and back). You also need to decide if you want your finished needle book to be a basic square when folded, or have a portrait or landscape orientation. I have made needle books whose finished size when closed ranges from a square of 3.5” x 3.5” (cut at least 7”x 3.5" plus seam allowances when open) to a portrait-oriented  5” x 7” when closed (cut at least 10” x 7” plus seam allowances when open).  

On a piece of muslin, mark your size and add 1/2 inch all around for seam allowance.  Piece the rectangle and embellish as you desire.  

Cut a piece of coordinating fabric (cotton, moire, or other fairly sturdy fabric) for the interior lining. Also cut to the same size some thin batting. This may be something as thin as another piece of plain cotton, or you could use some felt, thin batting or some interfacing. A lot of loft is not desirable. For my needle books, I used another piece of felt.

Sandwich the embellished outside to the inside lining fabric, right sides together. Place the batting/felt/whatever over one of the wrong sides. Sew all three layers together, leaving an opening for turning. Clip the corners and snip batting down to the seam. Carefully! Turn and stitch opening closed (I use invisible thread). Press.

Insides before pages added

Cut “pages” out of thin wool, wool felt, or even regular felt if that’s what you have.  Use a fabric that won’t ravel when you cut it with pinking shears. Pages should be smaller than the book itself so that they don’t show when the needle book is closed. One piece of felt, when folded, will make two pages, two will make four, etc. The number of pages is your choice.

Open the book, lie the trimmed felt pages flat, and sew down the center. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end to lock your seam.

That’s it - you’re done! This is a great way to use that odd block you may have laying around, or perhaps some piece you have been practicing on. And they make great little gifties for any type of needle worker.

Having said all this about needle books, I am still hoping to one day make myself a full-fledged hussif or chatelaine or CQ’ed needle kit, complete with scissors holder, pin cushion, and storage.  But that is on the back burner for now....

Cathy maroon


  1. Your needle books are lovely!

  2. Thanks Cathy..I definitely will make lots of these- a great project to practise my flower making, stitching..
    I'll let you know when done!! Hugs

  3. A lovely project - think I may have to do one for myself!

  4. Your needlecases are really something! I've got some CQ scraps cut off larger blocks that I couldn't bear to throw out - you've just provided the perect way to recycle them. Thanks for a beaut tutorial!
    Glad you liked my Pantry wall hanging - it turned out so well, partly due to your donations ;-)
    Has my parcel arrived yet?

  5. Lovely, Cathy! May I ask what you charged for a needlebook like this? I am always completely baffled when it comes to putting a price on cq! Thanks!

  6. That is how I make my needlebooks. Sometimes I will add a small zip lock plastic at the end. The closure is a button and elastic.
    Thanks for sharing. I also would like to know how you priced them. I know I sell cheap and only retrieve money for materials.
    Linda in NM


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