Friday, May 4, 2012

Ladybug Needle Case Tutorial

Finally, the spring tutorial is here!

UPDATE: I dreamed up this ladybug-inspired needle case after creating a project in sewing class from a vintage needlecase that was shaped and constructed similarly to the I created below.  The pattern for the needlecase and the instructions on how to construct this needlecase are of my own creation.

And of course, the ladybug embellishment/design is my own original creation.

So please feel free to make these for personal use but no selling allowed, ok?  This includes similar variations on my original design.  Thank you.

This little guy makes an excellent travel sewing kit if you pre-load some hand needles with different color threads and sew in a couple of buttons (see the picture at the bottom of the post for the a few of the notions I tucked into mine).

So let's get started!



  • Wool felt.   Do not use Eco-fi or craft felt for this project.  I experimented with it because it is a cheap option, but you'll only have  a hot mess when you're done.  Craft felt is 100% acrylic and not flexible enough for this project.  Plus the lanolin left in wool felt will help protect your needles from rust during storage.

    One-quarter yard each of red and black is plenty.  Or one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet red and two 8 1/2 x 11 sheets black. Wool felt comes in a variety of options.  100% wool felt is incredibly expensive so I used a 35% wool blend felt and it worked well for this project.

  • Construction paper or card stock or scrap paper, any color.  One sheet will do.
  • Sewing pins.
  • Ruler
  • White chalk for marking.
  • Red and black spools of thread.
  • Craft or fabric glue.
  • Scissors.
  • A pencil or pen.
  • Black Velcro dots.  I like the sticky adhesive kind.
  • Optional:  White stamp pad for marking circles.  You can also use a stencil and chalk or another method that you prefer.
Step One: Make a Pattern

First we need to make two pattern pieces in order to cut out our felt.  You'll need to make an 8-inch circle first.  There are several methods you can use:  a plate, a stencil, a decide.  I traced around a small Pyrex bowl:


Open it up, and you have a flower circle.  (So cute!):

By the way, a standard coffee filter is also about 8 inches wide.  You can also use that as a pattern template, but glue it to something heavy like construction paper because they are very flimsy.

Now create a little "molehill" out of construction paper using the measurements below.  This will make the tab closing for your needle case:

Tape it to the back of your flower circle and your pattern is finished:

Step Two:  Cut and Mark

Now cut out your felt.  This is self-explanatory so I'm not posting photos.  A word of advice:  use a lot of pins to keep your pattern from slipping around on the felt.  Cut out one flower circle in the red felt and one in black felt.  Don't throw away your scraps, we'll be using them later.

Fold the black felt in half as shown to find the middle of circle:

Mark lines as shown with chalk.  Use your ruler as a guide:

Now use your stencil or your stamp pad on your scraps to create some felt circles. I used an old prescription medicine bottle to stamp these as it was about 1" in diameter:

Make 12 circles if you want it to look like mine and cut them out. Trim down about four of the circles to about half the size of the larger circles.  (Ladybugs' spots vary in size, ya know).

Cut out a narrow 8" strip of felt that is slightly wider at the bottom as shown below.

Trace around the "molehill" tab section of the pattern with chalk and cut one piece of black felt as shown below:

Step Three:  Sew

Ok, now we're ready to sew!

Pin the two felt flower circles together.  Felt tends to slip so make sure it's secure.  Thread your machine with the red thread.  First, sew along the chalk lines that you just marked.

Then carefully sew around the edges of the design, about 5/8" from the edge, following the scalloped pattern.  You may want to use chalk to draw in the seam line as a guide.  After sewing, simply brush away all of the chalk with your hands.  When you are finished it will look like this:

If necessary, trim any edges that look a little funky so the red and black felt is even.

Add just the one velcro dot to the middle of your tab at the top right now.  Tack this down with just a few hand stitches or with your machine using black thread.  Don't worry about it showing on the other side, we're going to cover that up later.

Step Four:  Glue!

Now to make the case look like a (stylized) ladybug.  I thought this part was the most fun!  Use this photo of the fully-opened back of the needle case as a guide:

Turn your needle case over and glue the long strip of felt down the middle of the case. Trim off any excess at the top.

Glue the "molehill" tab on top.  This creates a "head" for your ladybug.  Using black thread, stitch along the very bottom of the black tab to secure it either by hand or machine, it's up to you.

Now decide where to place your spots.  Avoid gluing the felt circles along the stitching lines because these are actually going to be your fold lines when you close up the case. Be sure to glue these down securely and let them dry before folding the case.

Finally, place a black velcro dot in the at the very bottom of the case, in the middle of the black strip.  Tack this down with a few stitches by hand or machine:

And that's it!  Your needles and notions will be kept as "snug as a bug in a rug" (where does that saying come from anyway?):

To fold it up, pinch in the middle as shown here:

And close the tab over the front to secure.

If you'd make one I'd love to see it!  Share a link at the bottom of the post or join my new Flickr group, Serendipity Vintage & Handmade!  All creative projects welcome.

If you like this tutorial I'd love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below.


  1. This will go on my list of summer projects. I know who I'm going to make them for. I love the Ladybug and I already have red and black felted wool. One was an old vest that I washed in hot water.

    1. It's great that you can re-purpose that felt vest. I'd love to see them when you're done Jo!

  2. Cute, cute, super-duper cute! I've always adored ladybugs (they're just about the only bug I'm ok with having crawl on my skin), and could totally see myself making one of these darling creations some day. Stellar, really nicely detailed tutorial, dear gal!

    Thank you ever so sweetly for your blog comment this weekend. I will definitely give Miss Stella (who is beyond loving our new abode) a pet, hug, and extra handful of cat treats from you.

    Gentle hugs & oodles of wishes for a serene Sunday,

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment Jessica! And so glad Miss Stella has settled in to her new home.

  3. This is adorable!! Thanks for the fab project and clear directions!

  4. Just gorgeous!!

    Curious though... i have a group of friends and we occasionally share our design ideas.. some created by us... some acquired online.. i was wondering if it would be okay with you if i shared this design.. ofcourse i always put the site reference from where i have taken the designs/ideas from.. thanks a bunch..

    oh n no issues.. if u dont want me to send these out except via a direct link i will include that n keep the design in my collection only.. =)

    1. Thanks, glad you like it! Could we chat a bit offline? You didn't leave contact info. so please just email me at serendipity [dot] vintage [at] ymail [dot] com.

  5. So cute & a great tutorial. Thanks for linking up to Share the Love Wednesday!

  6. Oh this is so cute... I just received in the mail yesterday my vintage sewing kit that folds like this... I love it tons... I was sitting here thinking of trying to make one like it with fabric... lol But googled needle cases pics... And found your blog...Thanks for sharing now myself and 11 year old daughter can make one of these together on a weekend... She loves ladybugs and wants to learn to hand sew... I have no machine but hands work... :) Thanks for sharing...

    1. Thank you! I've seen several vintage needle cases with this general design -- the one you purchased is very cute. I would love to see the cases that you and your daughter make. Please drop me a line if you post them on your blog. And thanks so much for leaving a comment!


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