Sunday, January 21, 2007

Double Pointed Needle Case

My double-pointed needles needed a home, so I designed and executed this double-pointed needle case and it came out better than I could have imagined! I was initially going to make the case over here, but I got befuddled thinking about it and was forced to set out on my own.

My case has an inner pocket with appropriately-sized slots for all of my DPNs and some extra spaces for sizes I will likely acquire one day. The pocket and back are lined with lightweight interfacing to give them a little substance. The top of the pocket and the entire outer edge are trimmed with bias edging (although not cut on the bias). I made the whole thing 10" high because while most of my needles are 6" long, a few sets are 8" and this is an equal opportunity case. All of the fabric, thread and the button is from Purl, bien sur.

If anyone is interested in trying it themselves, here's what I did. Click on any picture and it will get bigger.

You will need fabric for the pocket, inner lining, outer lining and edging for both the inner pocket and the outer edge. You can choose any combination you like. You will also need some fusible interfacing. Cut fabric as follows:

Inner pocket:
Two pieces, each 5.5" x 15.25"
One piece of fusible interfacing, 5.5" x 15.25"
One piece for bias edging, 2" x 15.25"

Inner lining:

One piece, 10" x 15.25"


One piece, 10" x 15.25"
One piece of fusible interfacing, 10" x 15.25"
Pieces of fabric 2" wide totalling about 57" in length (I did this by cutting four 2" x 15" strips)

Matching thread, or not matching, if you are me.

You will also need a button and a scrap of fabric about 1" by 5" for the closure. You could alternatively use ribbon or elastic or yarn or anything else your little heart desires.

Finally, I used muslin to make a template for myself. You could use some scrap of fabric or paper as well.

How to
  1. Wash and iron your fabric like a good little seamstress. Cut out your pieces as described above, being sure to stop and admire your handiwork.

  2. Iron your interfacing to the wrong side of one piece of the pocket and to the wrong size of the outside fabric. Set aside the outside fabric.

  3. To make the bias edging for the top edge of the inner pocket, I would recommend using a bias tape maker. You don't have one you say? Buy one. I'll wait...

    Alright fine, if you don't have one, you can still play but it's less fun. Fold your 2" strip in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together, so it's 1" x 15.25". Iron the crease. Then, open it up and fold both long raw edges in toward the center crease and iron these down. Now, fold the thing again lengthwise and iron. You now have a 1/2 x 15.25" strip with one folded edge and the raw edges folded in toward the middle.

  4. Grab both pieces of fabric for your pocket and the edging you just made. Lay the piece of the pocket with the interfacing right side down so the interfacing is up. Lay the other piece of pocket on top with the wrong side down (now the interfacing is sandwiched between two pieces of fabric with the right sides out). Then take your bias edge and tuck the top edge of the pocket into the opening. Pin this into place. Go forth to the sewing machine and top stitch 1/8" in from the open edge of the trim.

  5. Alternative #1: Custom-sized pockets. You can use this approach if you want to customize your case for your repertoire of needles. The muslin (or paper or other scrap fabric or whatever) will be used to make a guide for how far apart to stitch your pockets. First, use a pencil to make a line 1/2" in from the left edge of the muslin. This indicates where the edging will be. Then, line a book or ruler edge along this line and hold it firm. Take your first set of DPNs and snuggle your needles up against that edge, keeping them all flat on the table. Make a pencil mark on the other side of the needles (see picture if this makes no sense). Continue to do this along the length of the muslin, shuffling the book/ruler along and lining it up with your last mark and moving up a needle size each time. You can approximate the distance if you don't have a set of needles in a particular size but think you might one day need space for them. For example, I don't have 000s, 4s, 8s, 10s or 10.5s, so I approximated the pocket size for these sets.

    Alternative #2: My pockets. If you can't deal with this and just want a case that will fit sizes 000s through 11s, skip the above and make the following hash marks on the front of your inner pocket. First, make the line 1/2" in from the left edge because you will still have an edging. Then, measuring from the 1/2" mark, make hash marks at the bottom edge at 1/2", 1", 1-5/8", 2-1/4", 3", 3-13/16", 4-3/4", 5-11/16", 6-3/4", 7-7/8", 9-1/8", 10.5", 11.5", 12-5/8" and 14-3/8". You will have a little more than 1/2" left hanging out at the end, but this can be trimmed later. I know this seems insanely precise, what with the 16th of an inch and all, but I wanted a really snug fit for the needles.

  6. Pin the outer pocket to the right side of the inner lining, lining up the raw bottom edges and being sure your hash marks are face up. Machine baste a 3/8" seam around the edge of the pocket to hold it in place.

  7. Using the thread of your choice (I used one that blended into the color of the pocket), stitch a seam 1/2" from the left edge of the pocket. Backstitch at the start and finish of this and every seam. Then, using your muslin as a guide and marking the next seam (or just moving over to the next hash mark if that's your style), stitch a seam again down the pocket. Continue seaming along until you've done all of your pockets. I was anal and checked my needles in each pocket as I went along.

  8. When you are finished with all of the pocket-making, trim the right edge of your fabric sandwich to a 1/2" seam allowance.

  9. Retrieve your outside fabric (it's the one stuck to the interfacing) and put it right-side down on the table. Put your inside lining-pocket ensemble right-side up on top of this, so the interfacing is sandwiched in the middle. Pin it all together and baste a 3/8" seam around. If you are really nuts like me, you can pick out the basting around the pocket bottom.

  10. If you are using ribbon, yarn or some other creative closure, you can skip this step. Otherwise, take your little 1" x 5" scrap of fabric and follow the bias edging process in step 3 (without the bias edge maker) so that you have a skinny little strip. Try not to burn your fingers on the iron holding the thing in place as you press. Return to the sewing machine and, with great patience, sew about a 1/8" from the open edge. Then return to your ironing board. Fold the strip in half and press a light crease. Open up the strip again and fold each end perpendicular to the strip and matching the edge along this middle crease. Press more aggressively in this shape. I think if you look at the picture it will make some sense, hopefully. Email me if not.

  11. The bias edging for the outside edge is prepared the same way as for the inner pocket, so go do that (you can see excellent instructions here for how to link the short lengths of 2" fabric together). Attach the bias edging using your method of choice. I used the one-step technique in The Modern Quilt Workshop. Another method is the one described at Heather Bailey's (this is sort of the way I did the edging on my potholders, although following the instructions in In Stitches). Now, I don't know enough about quilting to know whether these are proprietary ways to do do things, so I don't feel comfortable reiterating them here for copyright reasons. But, if you don't want to buy things, Heather Bailey's approach is easy and free (and actually produces a neater result than my method, although I'm sure if I did a better job my way works fine too). Whatever your approach, be sure to pin your closure under the bias edging at the midpoint on the front of your roll.

  12. You are almost done! Put your needles in and roll or fold the case however you like. I chose to roll, but could just as easily have folded in quarters or thirds. Pull your closure loop until it's taught and use a pencil or fabric marker to put a dot inside the end of the taught loop to mark where to sew your button. Sew on said button and voila! A custom case for your precious DPNs. This could be easily adapted for straight needles or crochet hooks too by varying the height and using the muslin technique to determine the width of each pocket. I leave it to you to go forth and be creative. Enjoy!

Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions - this is my first time writing up a tutorial so while it makes perfect sense to me, it may be gibberish to the masses.


Lisa said...

Wow. I love it. I've been thinking about doing something like this. You've gotten the gears turning.

Francesca said...

Beautiful. And what an excellent and comprehensive tutorial.

keri said...

What a great tutorial, thanks! I've just printed it out to give it a try soon. How long did it take you?

littlemamaknits said...

Oh excellent! I've been wanting to make one of these--thanks so much for the instructions. You did a beautiful job.

joy said...

The case is just beautiful! I love how the pockets are tailor-made to fit your set of needles. I'll definitely keep your tutorial in mind when I get to making my own case.

julia said...

Wow, this is gorgeous, I wish I could sew to make myself one like this.

twellve said...

this is exactly what i was looking for! not sure i have the 'skillz' to make one myself, though.

would you ever consider commission work?

twellvis [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Fab - I googled Double pointed Needles Roll and yours came up. They don't seem to be in the shops so I thought I'd make one too. Your instructions will come in very handy - thank you :-)

Lynnea B said...

I love is just what I am looking for to hold my new set of dpns...going to the fabric store now to buy fabric!

Lynnea B said...

Hey...I made one! I need to post pictures on my blog, I'll link to you since you gave me the basic idea how to do it. Thanks!

Joan Goddard said...

Hi, I'm so glad you have the pocket widths listed, but I'm a little confused about them. You have 15 listed, but I'm only counting 14 whole number needle sizes:

000, 00, 0, 1, 2,
3, 4, 5, 6, 7,
8, 9, 10, 11

Are you including a half size, like 1 1/2, 2 1/2, or 10 1/2? Or is the first 1/2 the margin?


onepotato said...


Yes, I have a size 2 1/2 needle I wanted to include. Obviously you can customize as you wish - I layer out my needles one set at a time and measured.

Good luck!

Joan Goddard said...

Thanks! I'm happy to use your measurements and I'll probably do the same as you and try putting the needles in each pocket as I go.

Joan Goddard said...

Another question about those measurements for the pockets: The first ones make sense to me because each pocket stays the same width as the previous or gets a little wider than the previous. But the widths for the larger needles don't follow that:

Needle From margin Width
7 9 1/8 1 1/4
8 10 1/2 1 3/8
9 11 1/2 1 <- too small
10 12 5/8 1 1/8 <- too small
11 14 3/8 1 3/4

I know you had to guess on some, but I'm also wondering whether you sized for 4 needles instead of 5 on these, or something like that.

Joan (the engineer - sorry!)

onepotato said...

Jean - All I can say is it worked the way I did it. The larger needles (and in fact, all the needles, to some extent) clump up on each other when the pouch is rolled. This is inevitable. I can't say I remember my exact logic in designing it, but I've been using it happily for almost 8 years now so I hope it will work out for you! Obviously feel free to tweak it if it doesn't feel right. xo.