Making your own magnetic needle minder for cross stitch or embroidery is easy — just three simple supplies, and you’ll never lose your needle again!
What is a needle minder, and how does it keep me from losing needles?
If you haven’t seen one of these before, the purpose of a “needle minder” or “needle nanny” (or as Google has just shown me, “needle knack”) is a simple surface that keeps my cross stitch needle in check. A magnet makes it easiest of all — just tap the embroidery needle onto the minder, and it sticks. No more absentminded placement or hunting down where the needle is. It’s always in the same place!
After nearly losing my cross stitch needle in the couch again, I decided to raid my craft supplies for this easy DIY. In truth, I’m actually pretty bad about consistently putting my needle in the same place when I’m sitting on the sofa (ahem, sometimes sticking it into a cushion absentmindedly), so this was an instant improvement — and removed a lot of worry for the pups/boyfriend whenever I get in the mood to make a new pattern. 🙂
DIY Magnetic Needle Minder (aka “Needle Nanny/Needle Knack”)
- something thin and small that can handle being glued to a magnet
- 2 strong magnets (I used these and prefer neodymium)
- heavy duty glue (I used E6000 — the gold standard of craft supplies — but be sure to use proper ventilation with something like this)
There are laughably few steps to making these, but the possibilities are pretty endless on what you can use for a needle minder. Lots of people use loose buttons, fabric-wrapped buttons, shrunk plastic, laser cut wood, and more, but I prefer to head to the jewelry aisle for charms and enameled pins.
As for the magnets, you can use ceramic magnets too, but I prefer the petite little neodymium ones. They’re usually just as powerful but petite, so they make the end result look better and take up less space. Update: per one commenter, ceramic magnets may leave a mark on your fabric!
How to Make Your Own Needle Minder from a Jewelry Charm
1. Find a jewelry charm with a flat or near-flat back. Clip off the eye hook at the top (mine was made with cheap enough metal just to twist and tear it off with my hand). If you want the charm slightly flatter, try hammering it flat with a rubber mallet.
2. Glue magnet to the back side of the charm. Allow to cure.
How to Make a Needle Minder from an Enameled Pin
How cute is this enameled pin? (similar and similar) I decided to make a second one because I wanted an enameled one all along, but made the first jewelry charm version while I was waiting for this one in the mail. It all worked out in the end, since it let me take more pictures. Of the part I forgot to photograph. *Face palm*
1. Remove the prong from the back of the pin with cutting pliers. Try to snap it as close to the base as possible so you can limit any jagged pieces sticking out.
2. If there is a little bit of the prong still sticking out, you can either cut away more, grind it down with a Dremel tool, or cover it over with glue so the sharp point is encased.
3. Add the magnet to the back with more glue. Allow to cure.
How to Use a Needle Minder
Once my needle minder was dry, I attached the front to my current work in progress (more on this pattern will be shared to the Patterns Library on November 1st, and more cross stitch patterns are coming!).
I stuck another magnet on the back to hold it in place, and it was ready to go.
Now, whenever I need to switch threads or put my work aside, I can rest the needle right in the center and the magnet holds it onto the fabric. I’m actually surprised I’ve never used them before this point, because they have made a tremendous difference thus far. I don’t recall my grandmother ever using one, either.
If you don’t feel like DIYing (or just plain want to collect them — it seems a lot of people tend to do that!), you can also buy them ready-made and on Etsy. Here are a few of my favorites.
Update: I’ve also written a quick start guide to cross stitch for beginners and have added links to some patterns for you stitchers below! I’m also working on a new membership program for tons more patterns.