Needle Roll tutorial

As promised, here is the needle roll tutorial. I'm warning you, it's a lot of work making one of these things; I fully appreciate the $50 price tags you see on Etsy for similar products! But if you have a yard or two of fabric lying around and a couple or few hours on your hands, you might want to try making one like I did.

Putting this post together was a ton of work, by the way. I made two needle cases; the first was a test run, and the second was for the purpose of taking photos and making sure my instructions make sense. I sure hope someone finds this helpful.

Here we go.

  • 1 yard of main fabric*
  • 1/2 yard of contrast fabric*
  • 1/2 yard fusible interfacing
  • matching thread

*If you want, you can use the contrast fabric for one or two of the pockets, in which case you can probably get away with 1/2 yard of the main fabric. Just check your measurements before you cut anything out. Also, I used linen for the main fabric and quilting cotton for the contrast. If you want something thicker like denim or heavy cotton or corduroy for the main fabric, I recommend you just use that for the main piece and choose a lighter cotton for the pockets so the layers don't get too thick.

  • ruler, mat, rotary cutter
  • sewing machine (a walking foot is very helpful, though not entirely necessary)
  • iron
  • pins
  • needle for hand sewing

When I have a project with lots of pieces like this, I prefer to cut everything out first, then press, mark and add interfacing to all the pieces before stitching anything together. I've ordered the steps the same way here.

Cut and prepare your fabric:
From the main fabric, cut out one piece each with the following measurements:

  • 18" x 21"
  • 18" x 14.5"
  • 18" x 11.5"
  • 18" x 8.5"
From the contrast fabric, cut out pieces to the following measurements:
  • two strips 18" x 2.5" (for the ties)
  • one rectangle 19" x 5"
  • one long strip of binding 2" wide and at least 42" long 

To get a binding strip long enough, you may need to sew some pieces together as follows:
Pin the strips with right sides together at a right angle.

Sew a diagonal seam across the overlapping corner, making sure the line of stitching runs from outside edge to outside edge.

Clip the excess fabric.

Unfold and press the seam.

Add interfacing:
Fold the largest rectangle in half lengthwise and press the crease. Open up the rectangle.

Cut a piece of fusible interfacing roughly half the size of the rectangle and fuse to the inside. This helps give the needle roll some structure and stability.

Cut a piece of interfacing a little smaller than the 19"x5" piece of contrast fabric and fuse to the wrong side. Fold this rectangle in half with wrong sides together, press, and set aside.

Press and mark the rest of the pieces as follows:
Fold the long binding strip in half lengthwise and press. Set aside.
Take the remaining rectangles you cut from the main fabric and fold in half lengthwise with the right side out, pressing a sharp crease in each. The largest one is the back of the needle roll, and the three smaller ones will form the pockets.
Stack the folded rectangles with the largest one on the bottom of the stack and the smallest on top, pointing the folded edges up, and lining up the raw edges at the bottom.
Using a ruler and marking chalk or washable marker, lightly draw vertical lines as stitch guides for the pockets as follows:
Start by measuring 8.5" in from each edge so there are two lines in the middle 1" apart.
Next draw lines 4" away from each of the center marks (towards the edges), then another set of lines just 1/4" away from those lines. (The 1" gap in the middle and 1/4" gaps between pockets are to allow room for the needle case to fold up.)

Lightly mark the outer pocket lines on the outside layer of the back pieces to help position the ties.

Attach the ties to the outside of the needle case:
Set aside the three pocket pieces and keep the large back piece handy.
To make the ties, fold the two 18" x 2.5" strips in contrast fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together and stitch a narrow 1/4" seam along the long edge of each one, leaving the middle 3-4" unsewn for turning.

Position the tubes so that the long seam is centered at the bottom, and stitch the ends of the tubes together with a narrow seam.

Turn the ties right side out through the unstitched part in the middle. I find turning the tubes to be incredibly tedious... If you want to avoid this annoying step, just use some 1" ribbon and skip the sewing and turning part!

Press so the seam is in the middle underneath. The unstitched portion will be hidden when you sew this onto the needle case.

Unfold the large back piece and pin the tie pieces to the outside layer, positioning the ties in the center and evenly spaced as in the picture below. You can eyeball this if you want.
Stitch the ties to the back piece outside layer only, stitching between the pocket lines you marked earlier.

Stitch the pockets:
Stack your rectangles again, keeping the large back piece unfolded.

Pin together.

Stitch along your marked pocket guidelines, backstitching along the top for reinforcement. Always stitch bottom-to-top to avoid any weird pulling.

Attach the binding:
Fold the back piece together so everything is lined up. You'll attach the binding along three sides of the needle roll: the right, bottom and left side.
Starting with the right side with pockets facing up, pin the binding strip to the needle roll with all raw edges lining up. Stitch along this edge with 1/4" seam.

When you reach the bottom, pull the whole thing out of the sewing machine and turn 90 degrees for a neat, mitered corner as shown in the photo (I'm embarrassed to admit how long it took for me to figure out this gem of a technique! I'm not great at it, still, so if you want a decent tutorial you're better off going to youtube.)

Do another mitered corner and continue to attach the binding along the left edge.
You may have a little extra binding strip hanging over the top. Trim it to be even with the top of the roll. Don't worry about the raw edge of the binding; that will be hidden when you attach the flap in the next step.

Attach the top flap:
At the top of the needle roll, fold the binding around to the outside and press in place.

With right sides together, pin the 19"x5" piece of contrast fabric to the top outside edge of the needle roll, leaving 1/2" of raw edge overhanging. Stitch in place with 1/4" seam.

Here's a closeup of that top edge.
 Fold that flap up and press the seam.

Now fold the flap in half with right sides together and stitch down that short side without catching any other part of the needle case in the process. Repeat on the other side.

Trim the excess fabric from the seams.

Turn the flap right side out and press. Don't worry about the raw edge; that will be hidden in the next step!

Fold the entire flap towards the pocket side of the needle case and press.

I like how the steam looks in this picture.
With the outside of the needle case facing you, topstitch along the top edge to secure the flap to the inside/pocket side of the needle case. I chose to stitch in the ditch so the stitches wouldn't show up on the contrast fabric, but there is a little wiggle room here. The raw edge of the flap will be hidden inside the layers of the flap now.

Flap goes up...

Flap goes down!

The last step is to stitch down the binding around the outside. I do this by hand because I know I'll screw up if I try to topstitch on the machine, but if you're feeling impatient you can take your chances, I suppose. You'll probably have to trim away excess fabric first. No matter how hard I try, I always end up with raw edges misaligned and I have to trim them down for the binding to fit nicely.

Snip snip

And you're done! Your needle case is ready for use.

I have way way WAY more than two needles, y'all. Don't be fooled by the austerity of this photo.


Karyn Marshall said…
This is an amazing tutorial especially since I am a visual learner and Santa brought me a new sewing machine. I will definitely be making this. Joann's here I come. Thanks for posting.

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