Last month I came up with this design for a 'housewife' needlecase after seeing one in a vintage craft book, (you might have seen my blog post here) and I casually mentioned I'd post a tutorial for them, in case you'd like to make one too. Obviously, it didn't quite happen the next week, mostly because I've been on the search for more of the wide embroidered ribbon I used the first time, but haven't seen any on my travels of late.
I did have enough ribbon for one more housewife, though, and spent a morning devising a pattern and taking photos of the process. But then, just as I was editing the pictures, I somehow managed to delete them permanently from my camera. Yes, permanently. (I've looked everywhere.) But, since it's quite a simple design, I thought I could probably just explain the steps here anyway, and that would suffice for most people who wanted their very own housewife.
So, here is the pattern and my apologies for lack of pictures!
embroidered housewife needlecase
a piece of wide, embroidered ribbon measuring 17.5" X 4" (it shouldn't matter if the width varies a bit- just adjust the lining to suit.) If you can't find any such ribbon, your favourite medium-weight cotton or linen fabric would work just as well (the brown and orange needlecase above was made from a piece of vintage linen.)
A piece of cotton fabric of exactly the same dimensions, for the lining
Two pieces of cotton tape or ribbon measuring about 7.5" long, for the ties
Small piece of felt or wool fabric measuring 2.5" X 3"
Sewing machine, needle, thread, scissors, steam iron, pencil or tailor's chalk.
Prepare your fabric and felt by cutting to the measurements given and ironing well. Now, using your iron and perhaps a pencil if you need to, divide your piece of ribbon into 5 equal sections measuring 3.5". Crease each section with your finger or the iron, or, if you prefer, draw a faint line with your pencil or chalk to divide the sections. Repeat with the lining fabric.
Pin your piece of felt to the middle section of your lining fabric, making sure it's centered on the section. Then sew a straight line down the centre of the felt, securing it to the lining centre.
Next, you need to attach one of the ties to the ribbon piece. Take one of your lengths of cotton tape and fold a small piece of the end over neatly two times, then press this fold. Pin the tape to the centre of the housewife outer (the embroidered ribbon), 4" from the right edge and neatly machine-sew into place. (The photo below is how it will look after the needlecase is finished- the 4" are folded away by then!)
With right sides together, pin the housewife outer to the lining and sew all around the edge with a 1/4" seam (being careful not to catch the felt or cotton tape in your seam) but leave one of the short ends open. Clip the sewn corners and turn right-side out. Push out the sewn corners with your pencil and press the whole piece flat. Fold under the raw edges and hand-stitch closed.
With the housewife lining facing you, fold over the left side to form a pocket that is 3 1/4" deep. Press and pin into place. Repeat with the other side, so you have two pockets on either side of the felt piece. Neatly stitch down the sides of the pockets, as close as you can to the edges.
Attach the other end of the tape by pressing down one edge as you did with the other piece, and pinning into place. You will want to position it on the housewife outer, just to the right of the felt piece. Stitch in place. Cut the ends of the ties on an angle, to avoid fraying. Fold up and tie in a bow.
Now you can fill up your finished housewife with all your handsewing supplies. Like a little thimble, embroidery threads on cards, pins and needles, maybe a small tape measure. They'd make a nice present for someone who is just getting into embroidery- especially if you stock it up with supplies. :)