Little Crazy Heart Needlecase

Kim Stenehjem © 2006

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Finished Heart NeedlecaseFinished needlecase open

Every fall, our quilters guild holds a small-quilt silent auction as a fundraiser and this year I was stuck without an idea for a piece to donate. Then I decided on this heart-shaped crazy quilt needlebook. I whipped it up in an afternoon.

This needlecase makes a lovely little gift for a special sewer in your life and is a great way to use up some of those little bitty scraps of luxury fabrics we all horde.

Step One: Assemble Your Materials
To complete this project, you will need:
6 inch washed and ironed muslin square for your foundation
Scraps of 5-8 fabrics
6 inch square of coordinated fabric for the backing
Ready-to-sew piping - enough to completely circle 2 heart shapes
12 inch square of felted wool in a coordinating color
6 x 12 piece of Timtex
Silk ribbon, beads, and embroidery floss for embellishment
Purchased tassel or a Packet of bead stew if you choose to make your own
Thread matching the felted wool
3 inch piece of ribbon, fine cording or other tightly twisted fiber for closure
Small decorative button with shank
Tracing paper (Optional)

Click here for Full size pattern.

Step Two: Stitch and Flip-Piece Your Heart

Trace the heart pattern approximately in the center of an ironed muslin foundation square.
Starting at one edge of the heart, use a ruler to draw stitching lines inside your heart outline. I found that 5 or 6 patches seems to look best. It gives you a nice variety of fabrics without being too busy.
Select the fabrics desired to create the heart. Pick a nice mix of solids and textures or prints. Large scale prints may not be effective as the pieces used are so small.

When all of the pieces of fabric have been attached to the foundation, give the block a final pressing. If you are using velvet, press only from the back to avoid crushing the pile of the fabric.

Finally, stay-stitch one-eighth inch outside the heart outline.

Step Three: Embellish

Place your tracing paper over your pieced heart and mark where you want your embellishments to be placed. Sketch in the general sizes and shapes.

Once you have a design you like, remove the tracing paper and set it aside for use as a reference. If you're not going to complete the embellishment all at once, make notes on the tracing paper so you won't have to depend on your memory what you had planned for colors, fibers, stitches, etc.

For this project, I wanted to feature a single large motif on the needlecase so I elected not to embroider the seams but it would also look lovely embellished in a more traditional way with seam treatments and small motifs.

After I got the piecing done and had stay stitched the outside, I realized the fabric in the upper right was upside down. Rather than rip it out and restitch, I worked a design with lots of purple to balance it out. 

The hummingbird is an experiment with Fyre Werks hologram ribbon I bought at Nordic Needle. I'm sure lucky to have the store right here in town so I can fondle the threads before buying.

This use of yellow is more successful than most. The flower represented is called false sunflower (Heliopsis) and grow wild in my garden and along the roadsides 

People just love the little dragonflies made with organza ribbon, a seed bead and a bugle bead.

This is an experiment with Lazy Stitch beading. I converted a cross stitch chart I had lying around the quilt studio. 

I made myself use yellow for several hearts because it's not a color I usually care for.

The combination of yellow roses and flax comes from my garden where they grow together.


I received about a dozen sizes of organza ribbon in an eBay purchase. Although I'm not crazy about the way it frays, it does make a nice change. Here I've made it into a Spiderweb rose. 

This cascade of folded ribbon roses remind me of the cascade wedding bouquets that were so common back when I was married.


I loved the way the hand-dyed variegated ribbon looks in these little roses. Gives them a realistic look. Victoria Clayton dyed this ribbon which I purchased online. As soon as I worked up one rose, I went back online and ordered a big selection of many colorways!    


Purple coneflowers (echinacea) are native to the prairies in North Dakota and are my very favorite wildflower. A park ranger told me that they are having a heck of a problem with poachers in the national parks coming in and digging up the wild plants for their supposedly medicinal value. The poachers apparently don't know that the variety that is wild in North Dakota doesn't have much of the active ingredient that fight colds. 

Step Four: Assemble Needlecase

Using the heart pattern, trace two hearts on the Timtex and cut them a scant sixteenth inch inside the line. Set aside.

Starting at the inside corner of your heart, stitch your piping onto the right side of the front using your zipper foot. Stitch as close to the piping as you can.

Trim off the excess muslin and fabrics being careful not to cut the piping tape.

Clip the inside corner of the heart as close to your stitching line as possible. If the fabric at this spot frays easily, you may wish to use a dab of Fray Check. Test fray check on a scrap of the same fabric to make sure it will not discolor.

Position one of the Timtex heart cutouts on the back of your pieced and embellished Front. Fold the seam allowance and piping tape over the Timtex and baste in place. Set aside.

Using the heart pattern, cut out a heart from your backing fabric. Repeat these steps to cover the Timtex to form your needlecase back cover.

Find the center of your felted wool square, marking the center with chalk. As shown on the pattern, position the front and back covers of the Needlecase face up on the wool, aligning them in the center with points meeting. Pin in place.

For the closure, slide a loop of ribbon or other cording in between the front heart and the wool lining.

Using your zipper foot, stitch the front and back covers to the wool lining. Trim loose threads. (See I promised your messy back wouldn't show.)

Flip the whole thing over and trace your pattern with chalk. Trim away the excess wool being careful not to clip off the loop you added.

Fold the case in half right sides together, with the front and back covers positioned so they line up together. Stitch a very, very small dart on the folds on either sides. This helps the case fold together more neatly. Trim excess threads.

Tuck the sides in so that they form a single accordion pleat on each side. Trim away any excess wool that might be showing. Sew the tassel to the bottom point of heart shape.

Position a button on the needlecase back for the loop to catch and Voila! – you now have a perfect heart-shaped needlecase that holds tons of threaded needles and keeps the threads from tangling.

Tip:Do not try to be frugal with your fabric. Leave plenty of overhang to make sure you don't end up with bare spots.

Tip: When incorporating velvet, plan to use it as the first patch you sew down. It helps avoid a bulky seam and velvet looks a little messy when folded back on itself –the pile sticks out every which way from your seam.

Tip: Brocade ravels like the devil but don't worry–the foundation keeps your patches from coming apart. Cutting pieces off your brocade yardage with pinking shears helps reduce the amount of loose threads.

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