Needleroll Class

Welcome to the first class for 2008 – I hope you enjoy making your own needleroll as much as I did writing this tutorial. For personal reasons I’ve decided to post early, and I’m happy to answer any questions you may have from now as well. If you have any questions just leave a comment in this post and I’ll answer as soon as I can – I look forward to seeing some finished needlerolls at the end of it, and it would be great if you could post your photos so we can all share in your beautiful finishes. If you don’t want to open a WordPress account to post, I’m happy for you to send me the link to your own blog and I can copy across into WordPress, or you can email me the details and I can upload the post for you. Now, on to the fun part … the class is ready to commence! The written instructions for each part come first, followed by a step-by-step series of photos to help illustrate that step.

Shepherd's Bush Needlerolls


Step 1 – Count about 24 threads up from the top of your stitching, and remove the next thread. Continue to remove 4-6 threads in total (depending on the width of your chosen ribbon – obviously you’ll want to remove more threads if you have a wider ribbon). Then do the same thing at the bottom of your stitching by counting the same number of threads down, and removing an equal number of linen threads. The easiest way to remove threads is to use a needle to pick up your first linen thread, then pulling gently – it will help to run your thumb and finger across the linen thread you’re pulling, as it moves through the fabric, this will help to flatten out any wrinkles and separate the thread from the fabric (some linens are quite difficult to pull through and the odd thread may snap in the process – this is quite normal, so don’t panic – just continue to pick up the thread from where it snapped and continue again).



Step 2 – Count another 24 threads above where you removed your last threads in step 1, then remove 2-4 threads. This will be for your row of hemstitching. If you want your hemstitching band to be quite small, just remove 2 linen threads. If you want your hemstitching to be more obvious remove 4 threads. In my case I’ve removed 4 threads. Do the same at both the top and bottom of your stitching.


Step 3 – Make sure the fabric above the last line of removed threads is equal to that on the bottom (mine is cut quite wonky/uneven, plus my overlocked edge needs to be cut off along with the excess fabric). Trim both ends so that you have approx 1 to 1-1/2″ of fabric at the top and bottom. Next turn your stitched piece over so you have the wrong side of the stitching facing upwards. Fold over the top of the fabric towards you, so the edge of the fabric is approx halfway towards the line of removed threads. You can either fingerpress or iron your fabric crease at this point – although it’s not necessary it makes it easier to stitch the hem stitching when you have a nice crisp edge.


Then fold over one more time, so the crease is now at the edge of the line of removed threads, and use pins to hold in place. Repeat so both edges of the needleroll are finished this way.

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Step 4 – Hemstitch your fabric – there are some links here to diagrams online, as my photos aren’t very clear to follow: * Hemstitch link 1 * The Victoria Sampler * Classic Stitches I usually prefer my hemstitching to be relatively invisible, so I use a DMC or silk thread to match my fabric. In this case I’ve partly completed the hemstitching in my fabric-coloured thread, then started doing a stitch in blue thread so it will show up for tutorial purposes only. You may, however, prefer to use a colour to match your needleroll and have your hemstitching a feature of your needleroll – the choice is over to you 😀 Note that with my version of the hemstitching, the stitching is done with the wrong side facing you, so the hemstitching is almost invisible from the ‘right’ side. If you prefer to see your hemstitching you would start stitching with your fabric the other way round – that way you will be able to see the ‘tail’ on the right side. I find holding the fabric this way helps me to get a good stitching rhythm going – feel free to hold it any way that’s easiest for you 😀 Start by stitching a couple of tiny stitches at the edge of the fabric to anchor your thread, then start with your needle at the top of the fabric, through both the ground fabric and the ‘hem’. Pass your needle under 3-4 threads (I usually prefer 3, depending on the fabric), and pull your needle and thread through.

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Hold this thread out of the way, while you pass the needle back down into the ‘gap’, and back up through both the ground fabric and hem – pull the stitch firmly, which will group the threads together … and that’s one stitch completed – easy huh?! (That was the part that always daunted me when I first started making needlerolls, but once you get a rhythm going, it’s really quick and easy.)

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Keep stitching until the entire row is finished, then repeat at the other end of the needleroll.


If you don’t want to use hemstitching you don’t have to – The Sweetheart Tree needlerolls, for example, have you stitch a line of half-cross-stitches, ie / / / / / / / … then when you fold the fabric over at the top (the same as if you are hemstitching), you just use a short catching stitch to slip under the half-cross-stitch and catch onto the folded hem. In this case, however, they stitch a normal side seam first so that the stitching is in a tube shape, then flatting the seam down, before turning the top hem over and stitching their ‘hem’ to the tent stitches. Here’s an example of a Sweetheart Tree needleroll, with a plain tent stitch (similar to a half-XS) edging (ie no hemstitching):


Step 5 – Next fold your needleroll in half lengthwise, with the right side of the stitching facing you. Stitch a 1/4″ seam down the full length, then trim it slightly (I cut it a bit close in this photo, so don’t follow my example!). You don’t have to have a zig-zagged edge on the fabric, mine just happened to be there while I was stitching it to stop it fraying. The reason I trim it slightly is because we are going to turn the fabric inside-out again, and do another 1/4” seam – that way you shouldn’t catch the fabric again in the new seam.


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Remember, you shouldn’t trim it as close to the seam as I did this time!

Step 6 – Turn your needleroll tube inside out so the wrong side is now facing you.


Repeat step 5 again, by stitching a 1/4″ seam down the full length of the needleroll … but this time do NOT trim the seam allowance. You’ve now completed a French seam so all your raw edges are enclosed and won’t fray 🙂


Step 7 – Turn your needleroll tube inside out again – now the right side of the stitching will be on the outside, and it’s starting to look like a real needleroll! 🙂 (If you think you’re going crazy and wondering why the needleroll is now different – I realised I didn’t have the right colour ribbon for my original needleroll, so I switched to another one I was finishing at the same time!)


Step 8 – Time to add the ribbon (or other closure, such as thin cording – about 18” is a good length of ribbon to use for each end) – I fold my needleroll in half using the seam as my guide, and start threading my ribbon about two threads away from the front centre – I pick up about 4 threads at a time, weaving under and over until I reach the front again. I use a large tapestry needle (such as a #22) which has an eye large enough to take the ribbon, and that way there is no point on the needle that will catch on the threads). Pull the ribbon up tight so the end is sealed, then tie a bow. I also trim my ribbon ends at this point once the bow is at my preferred size.

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Step 9 – Now it’s time to fill your needleroll with stuffing – I tend to use polyfil as I never intend sticking needles into my needleroll. If you want to use it as an actual needleroll or pincushion you’d be best to fill with a wool filling rather than polyfil so the needles won’t rust. Keep stuffing until you have a firm filling right up to the end of where the last row of ribbon closure will go (I use a chopstick to help push the polyfil down).


Step 10 – Repeat step 8 with your second and last piece of ribbon – you may need to poke the stuffing down a bit as you try to pull your ribbon closed. Once again, finish the ribbon off with a bow … and there you have it … your very own needleroll 😀

Planted Hearts needleroll finished

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Alternative finishing method – Mayte put together a fantastic needleroll tutorial a while ago on her blog, which shows an alternative method of finishing the hemstitching and the seams. Instead of doing the hemstitching and then stitching a ‘french seam’ you stitch a flat seam first, and then complete the hemstitching – and Mayte does her seams by hand, instead of by machine. You can see Mayte’s wonderful instructions here in Part 1 and here in Part 2.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed the class! 😀

Freebies & Links for Needlerolls


A couple of you have requested freebie links to needleroll designs, so here are a few I’ve managed to come up with for you: 

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If you just want to look at some needleroll eye candy, check out this website from a French exchange group … it shows how versatile the humble needleroll is, in that any small design is suitable for use! 🙂

Also, check out the Katrina’s Webshots album – note that Katrina has stitched many of the Sweetheart Tree needlerolls, which are stunning, and there are no pictures on the Sweetheart Tree website.  These designs are just printed on plain cardboard with no piccies and are quite cheap to buy – if they had photos somewhere I’m sure their sales would soar!  I’ve always thought of Katrina as the “Queen of Needlerolls” so her album is well worth a visit 🙂

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And if you want to check out some published designs specifically for needlerolls, here are a few starting points (this list is in no way exhaustive, but these designers have been chosen for the variety of needleroll designs they have published):

  • Shepherd’s Bush(scroll down the page to the needlerolls)
  • The Victoria Sampler(select “VS Site Search” and type in “needleroll” for the quickest way to find all the needleroll designs)
  • M Designs (the link should take you to the needleroll page)
  • Heart in Hand Needleart– look for the “fobs” designs, also those designs such as “Acorn Sampler” would be a good size to turn into a needleroll
  • Sekas & Co(mini sampler-type needlerolls – mainly alphabets)
  • Jeannette Douglas– Jeannette has some lovely needleroll designs, but the new website design is a pain to navigate – this link takes you to the Mini Topiary series, or the Seasonal series (my personal fave is Summer at the Ocean).  Also don’t forget she has some beautiful ornament needlerolls in the Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issues.

Other designers that have older designs no longer current (you could check out Ebay) is Liz Navickas and Lorri Birmingham (you can see some of Lorri’s designs through Hoffman Distributors) – both have some lovely needleroll designs.

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If that isn’t enough for you, here are photos of some of the needlerolls I’ve personally stitched and finished … I hope everything today has whetted your appetite for more!  I look forward to seeing you at the end of the month for the class 🙂

planted hearts needleroll finished Love needleroll by Jeannette Douglas Designs - from 2005 JCS Christmas ornie issue Spring needleroll by Lorri Birmingham Melanie's Exchange for SBEBB Strawberry Needleroll Needleroll Exchange for Nicki Thisbe's needleroll

Needleroll Tutorial – Materials List


*  Piece of stitching
*  Sewing pins
*  Cotton for stitching seams (to match fabric colour – if you’re using a sewing machine, this should be sewing machine thread)
*  Cotton floss for hem-stitching (either same colour as fabric, or as a contrast)
*  Ribbon (I prefer 1/4″ ribbon, but any width is suitable)
*  Stuffing (eg Polyfil)

Your fabric and stitching can be a variety of sizes, but preferably fabric should be approx 20-21cm (8-9″) x 25-26cm (10-11″).

There are many designers who have needleroll designs – The Victoria Sampler, Shepherd’s Bush, Jeannette Douglas, Eventide Designs, The Sweetheart Tree, just to name a few.  There are also a number of freebie designs available – if you would like some freebie addies, please leave a comment and I’ll locate them from my favourites for you 🙂 

The Needleroll class will be held during the weekend 26-27 January 2008.  That gives just under two weeks for anyone who would like to join in with the class to get a piece of stitching ready.  Don’t hesitate to leave a comment with any questions you my have with the materials list.  I look forward to holding the class in two weeks time! 😀

Please bear with me if I’m a bit slow responding with any queries during this week, as I’m moving house in two days time.  I will still be checking emails daily, though, assuming my internet connection will be working in the new flat!


Classes Update

Thanks ever so much for the support and generous offers to act as tutors for the upcoming classes – it’s greatly appreciated, and emails will be sent shortly to formalise the details.  I’ll keep the list updated as tutors come to hand, and once dates are finalised the information will be added to the Class Schedule page 🙂

To date I have tutors offered/confirmed as follows (those confirmed are highlighted in blue):

  • Lining and Tin / Tin Topper (combining two topics into one tutorial)
  • Lining a Basket – Vonna
  • Mattress-style Pincushion – KarenV
  • *  Needlebook (with needle pages) – Meari
  • *  Emery/Strawberry ornament – CathyMK
  • *  Sewing Pouch/Purse – need a volunteer
  • Flat-fold – Lisa
  • Scissor Case – KarenV
  • Tassels – Joanie, and one more tutor has been approached
  • *  Cording – AnneS
  • *  Ornaments – Pendibulle – AnneS
  • *  Ornaments – Humbug – Nicki
  • *  Ornaments – Rectangular – need a volunteer
  • *  Ornaments – Pillows etc – AnneS
  • *  Tote Bag – Renee
  • *  Bellpull – with hemstitched edges – Nicki
  • *  Bellpull – with seamed edges – Jenna
  • *  Biscornu – Jenna
  • *  Scissor Fob (stitched) – AnneS
  • *  Needleroll – AnneS
  • *  Stitcher’s Tray – Harmien
  • *  Tape Measure Cover – Celeste
  • Needlecase (for needle packets) – Celeste
  • *  Covered Book – BarbaraJ
  • Pillows – Tuck – Alison
  • *  Small Pillow – Cindy
  • *  Treat Bag/Sachet – Celeste
  • *  Scissor fob (beaded) – Cindy
  • *  Quilted Wallhanging – Alison
  • *  Bookmarks – Barbara
  • *  Cube-It – Joanie

Latest tutorials added & Stitcher’s Books

Just a quick note to say the following tutorials have all recently been added to the Tutorial Links page:

Also, there a couple of beautiful finished Stitcher’s Books here that are worth checking out for some exquisite eye candy! 😀

If you still haven’t seen enough, check out the Photo Gallery here.

And if you now have the urge to make your own stitcher’s book, there is a tutorial here prepared by the talented Leena.

Requests for tutors & future classes

You may remember we held the poll early last year regarding what finishing classes you would like to see as a tutorial.  As a reminder, the following list will show which items were requested.  I have split the group into two separate lists – the first list covers those items where we have had tutors recommended and I am contacting already, the second list covers those that I would dearly love to have volunteers to help me out.

Tutors already being approached:

  • *  Lining and Tin / Tin Topper (combining two topics into one tutorial)
  • *  Lining a Basket
  • *  Mattress-style Pincushion
  • *  Needlebook (with needle pages)
  • *  Emery Strawberry
  • *  Sewing Pouch/Purse
  • *  Flat-fold
  • *  Scissor Case
  • *  Tassels
  • *  Cording
  • *  Ornaments – Pendibulle, Humbug, Rectangular, Pillows etc
  • *  Tote Bag
  • *  Bellpull
  • *  Biscornu
  • *  Scissor Fob (stitched)
  • *  Needleroll
  • *  Stitcher’s Tray (new subject being requested)

Classes where I need tutors to volunteer:

  • *  Tape Measure Cover
  • *  Needlecase (for needle packets)
  • *  Covered Book
  • *  Pillows – Tuck
  • *  Treat Bag/Sachet
  • *  Scissor fob (beaded)
  • *  Quilted Wallhanging
  • *  Bookmarks

Lastly, there is a final question for you:

“What other finishing techniques would you like to see on the blog?  This can be an actual product (eg pinkeep, scissor fob etc) or a technique used as part of the finishing process (eg whipstitching, joining sides/seams together, cording etc).  Whatever you can think of that you would like to see, I’ve love to know about it.”

A couple of polls and requests for feedback

Unfortunately WordPress won’t allow polls on their blogs, so I’d appreciate it if those who want to vote could leave a comment, especially regarding the future hosting of this blog.

Karen and I have previously discussed that this blog gets far less contributions by people posting their finishes, than any of the blogs on Blogspot.  While personally I prefer WordPress as a blogging platform, there are a greater number of Blogger blogs out there than WordPress.  So, I put the following question to you:

“Would you prefer this blog to be hosted on Blogger or WordPress, and if moved would you be more likely to contribute by way of posting your finishes or would this not be a factor?”

The next question is related to upcoming tutorials, so I’ll raise a separate post for that question.

Thanks in advance for your time in giving feedback, it’s much appreciated.

In the meantime, I hope you like the new format – hopefully this makes the text a bit larger and easier to read 🙂


Welcome to 2008 – Happy New Year!!!

First of all let me apoloise for the lack of action on this blog in recent months – unfortunately I’ve had intermittent access to the internet after moving all my belongings into storage and housesitting around various parts of Melbourne.  Then about 7 weeks ago I packed up the car and moved interstate to New South Wales, where I’m now living for the next 12 months on a work secondment.  I’ve been staying with friends who live an awfully long way from my place of work, meaning a 3 1/2 hour commute each day, and leaving absolutely no time for stitching, never mind blogging!

The good news is that in 13 sleeps time, I will be freighting all my furniture and belongings up from Melbourne, and moving into a new flat only 20 minutes drive from work.  That means I can finally start getting back into the swing again of stitching, blogging, and life in general … and it’s time to blow the cobwebs off this blog to get it up and active once again! 🙂

Emails are slowly winging their way across the oceans to various people that have been suggested as possible upcoming tutors.  As soon as they’re confirmed, I will add dates and details to the calendar of classes.  It’s hoped to have two tutorials per month this year.  As I’ve been out of action for the last few months, I decided to put together a tutorial myself on Needlerolls – this will be published over the next few weeks.

There are still a number of areas where we don’t have recommended tutors for – I will make a separate blog entry in a moment to see if there are any volunteers out there in blogland that would be willing to assist.

Thanks for your patience while I’ve been struggling with access issues etc – I hope the blog will become more active again as we move into 2008.