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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!

make your own magnetic needle minder

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!

gold leaf needle minder made from jewelry charm

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”)

Supplies List

  • 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)
jewelry charms and e6000

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*

holding white origami lapel pin

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.

remove back prong from lapel pin

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.

apply glue to back of lapel pin

3. Add the magnet to the back with more glue. Allow to cure.

magnet glued to back of pin with glue and wood background

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!).

magnetic needle minder - white origami bird on black aida cross stitch fabric

I stuck another magnet on the back to hold it in place, and it was ready to go.

TIny magnet on the back of cross stitch cloth

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.

easy magnetic needle minder

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.

Happy stitching!

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.

pattern time limit

Patterns are available for free for a limited time to make room for new designs. To get access to the entire archive and lots more patterns, check out our membership site, NeedleSpark!

archived patterns are available in the NeedleSpark membership site

More Cross Stitch Ideas

Check out the library to get access to currently available patterns and see previews of future releases!

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  1. That’s a neat idea, I usually tuck my needle into the cloth (usually around the edge) if I have to put it away temporarily or for the day. If I am changing the thread, then I stick one end of the needle in my mouth (like a toothpick), but I like this idea better!

    What is the pattern that you are working on?

    1. It’s a leaf pattern — the free pattern will be available on November 1st in my free patterns library. I have enough patterns designed at the moment that I’ll be able to share one per month (on the 1st of each month) for all of 2019, so there is lots coming!

      I have tried both the needle tucking and the mouth techniques, and this magnet method is working MUCH better for me personally so far… I find that with my stiffer fabrics, the needle will sometimes be too difficult to tuck it or it will fall out when I put it down (I’m usually on the couch or bed doing cross stitch, so it’s prime for dogs to jump up and interrupt at the exact wrong time, ha!).

    1. Hmm. Thanks for the head’s up! I’ll add a widget area to include more options (just in case one of the links breaks again — sometimes if the item gets sold out it will break). So here are three new options: magnets 1 | magnets 2 | magnets 3

  2. Do NOT use ceramic magnets for needle minders. They will ruin your fabric by leaving black streaks on it. Neodymium or rare earth magnets are the only ones you should use.

  3. Awesome idea. I love to embroider, do counter cross stitch and I hand quilt. I cannot count the number of times I’ve dropped my needle and wasted valuable time looking for it.
    Thanks a lot. Can’t wait to make one.

  4. I just started making my own needle minders. I don’t have a Dremel tool so I bought a flat file at a discount hardware store for less than $3 to file down any rough edges or remnants of prongs that I can’t cut all the way off.

      1. If your worried about the magnet marking your fabric, apply some clear nail polish to the magnets. Worked for me.

  5. Just a reminder about using the small magnet on back of work. Glue a large thin piece onto the magnet that a CHILD or PET could not swallow. These small magnets very useful and handy, but extremely dangerous and emergency rooms have difficult time removing if they do not pass through the digestive track.

  6. Sarah,
    Thanks so much for the needle minder post on Pinterest.
    I had a positively hilarious time with those neodymium magnets.
    I am using a beautiful old sparkly brooch of my mom’s. Holding each sparkly stone on the back was a round disc the exact size of the magnet. Well, the pin is not flat so I knew it was going to be challenging but this was so comical. It needed two magnets due to the size of the pin. I stuck one magnet on with Gorilla glue as I had no E6000. Well, the second magnet I was placing did NOT want to stay put. It just kept joining it’s buddy. They eventually “married” and I gave up for now. I did have great fun and after all, isn’t that what crafting is all about anyway?
    Just thought you might enjoy this chuckle. Again, Thanks so much. I’ll get it tackled!

  7. Hello, I am wondering what it means that “ceramic magnets may leave a mark on your fabric”, how would that work? I would appreciate an explanation because I am planning to make some ceramic needle minders 🥹🥹

    1. Ceramic magnets are dark and in my experience they can collect a lot of dirt (not sure how) and leave smudges on light fabric. Just something I’ve seen a few times and thought it was worth noting if the project is precious to you!