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.

2215033260047689748TzOHKo_fs 2363550060047689748MnRLyG_fs

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.

2191273120047689748uSnAkR_fs 2372054450047689748YwRnXM_fs

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.)

2416112270047689748ErixxD_fs 2211460080047689748WoRKdH_fs 2324871890047689748bNtKrA_fs

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.


2778218780047689748akcxoc_fs 2135824930047689748demqmx_fs

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.

2602417780047689748LjJzQj_fs 2949434900047689748NiGlWA_fs 2275431420047689748ePoNCT_fs

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

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

I hope you’ve enjoyed the class! 😀

27 thoughts on “Needleroll Class

  1. Pingback: Rooted in Mississippi » Knit Too!

  2. What an excellent tutorial Anne–thank you so much!! Very well explained and the clear photos are perfect! Now, I just have to finish stitching my piece and then I can use your instructions to finish it up! 😀

  3. Ann, you have created a fabulous tutorial. thank you so much, for all your time and effort. It does take lots of both to do as nice as job as you have done. Have to make one of these soon, as have never tried. Everything is so clear and precise. Great job.

  4. Brilliant class, you make it look so easy. Just finishing off the stitching on my first one and this has been very helpful. Thank you for your time and effort

  5. You are the best. I haven’t done a needle roll but think I will try this on monks cloth that I make afghans on using swedish weaving. Also could be used on doing towels.

  6. Complimenti per la spiegazione,volevo chiedere quanto misura una volta finito il needleroll,e qual tipo di tela è meglio usare. Proverò al più presto sara il mio primo needleroll. Cordialmente la saluto.

  7. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I love to cross stitch, but cannot do any other form of sewing. I am no longer intimidated by the hemstitch hem and cannot wait to finish my first ever needle roll.

  8. I know it’s a few years since you typed this tutorial but I just read it, print it & I’m now looking forward to make my very first needleroll!! Thank you for these clear instructions 🙂

    • Thanks so much for your kind words Mii … I hope you will share a photo of your needleroll once you’ve finished it. The was the first tutorial I ever wrote, mainly because I’m a very visual person and I couldn’t find one myself when I was first learning to do finishing – I hoped that other people new to doing that sort of finishing would find it useful, so it’s lovely to hear comments from people who have done just that! 🙂

  9. Hi Anne, I inherited a one third finished, embroidered Christmas table cloth from my sister. She sadly passed away from cancer and couldn´t finish it. Her children gave it to me with all the yarn and the pattern, they told me it was supposed to be a gift for me. After eleven years (! – haven´t sown constantly for eleven years, mind!!!) , I have finally finished it, and on the pattern it says I should finish it off with hemstitch. I had no idea what it was!
    Looked online and found your site with an instruction. VERY useful, The tablecloth will be finished for this Christmas – finally. It is very pretty. Thank you so very much, the beautiful hemstitch makes it look so pro!
    Merry Christmas, Asta

    • What a wonderful story Asta – thanks for sharing! I’m glad my ibstructions helped you out and how wonderful to get the tablecloth finished – it will be a true work of art filled with wonderful memories 🙂

  10. I have a Shepherd’s Bush Americana roll to make and the instructions on finishing weren’t too clear. I love your tutorial! Thank you so much. I will now actually be able to finish the roll instead of having it sit in a basket somewhere!!

  11. I have been looking and looking for the needle roll on your picture the far left one or the first one in the picture. Where can I get the pattern and instructions?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s