Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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A Controversial Little Embroidery Tool that I Love


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How can an embroidery tool be controversial?

Well, controversial might be an exaggeration – it’s not as if the use of a specific tool for a hobby is a matter of serious debate or anything, and a tool’s use is hardly a matter of principle on which we’d stake our lives.

But surprisingly, there’s one little tool that I think is super-handy for embroidery, that weighs in on a love-hate scale.

There are lots of people who use these tiny tools all the time, whose stitching lives wouldn’t be complete with them, while others avoid them with vehemence.

I fall on the side of over-use of them. I love ’em. I use ’em. I rarely stitch without ’em.

I present to you My Case in Favor of the Magnet.

Magnets for Needlework

Probably the most obvious and common use of the magnet in the needlework world is as a needle holder. Stick a pair of magnets on your work surface – one above the fabric, one below – and you have a perfect place to temporarily hold needles that you’re using on your project.

For those who do counted work, magnets also make great chart holders, and they can double as place holders on a chart. Simple, useful, effective.

But the humble magnet is more than just a needle parker and more than just a chart holder.

When I’m stitching on a big frame, I always have at least one very small, very strong pair of neodymium magnets on my frame. And I mean strong – those flat little shiny ones that feel like they’ll pull your fingernails off when you try to separate them.

Magnets for Needlework

This little pair of concentrated attraction holds needles, yes…but they also hold my scissors, so I don’t have to forage around for them on my table or in a tool caddy. They’re right within my sight and I can pick them up immediately. The scissors won’t fall to the floor, even if I flip my frame over.

Just make sure to place the magnets at the at the top of your frame, within reach, but out of the way of your normal hand and arm traffic.

For this to work well, you have to use a pair of strong magnets, as craft magnets won’t always hold the weight of a pair of scissors.

But wait! There’s More!

I also use this pair of magnets to hold other Needful Things temporarily. I’ve found them absolutely indispensable on Late Harvest.

Magnets for Needlework

Remember this portable and pretty bead tray I made ages ago? It’s a tacky Beadalon bead mat, cut to fit inside a flat gift tin.

Even when I’m working with my frame at a precarious tilt, I can plop that tin and the beads within onto my trusty magnets on my work surface, right next to my beading area for easy access.

The beads stay put on the tacky mat and the mat stays put in the tin and the tin stays put on the magnets. It’s a terrifically convenient situation.

I’ve even left the bead tin there accidentally, when flipping my frame. No problem. Beads, mat, and tin all flipped back successfully!

A Couple Magnetic Cons

There are some cons to using magnets.

The most frequently encountered one for me is the subsequent magnetization of Everything.

Once you use a strong magnet to hold your scissors or needles, the scissors and needles become magnetically charged, which means that they’ll enjoy an unhealthy attraction for a short while.

Magnets for Needlework

Every time you reach for your scissors, you might have to check for needle parasites that hang onto the blades or handles. This can be annoying. But I find it a temporary annoyance, worth putting up with.

Another con: if you use electronic equipment around your embroidery – camera, smart phone, tablet – a neodymium magnet can cause damage to those things. Craft magnets that are a lot weaker aren’t too dangerous, but the very strong neodymium magnets can cause problems with electronics. I’m always very aware of the location of my magnets in relation to my camera and the like.

Those are about the only cons I can think of for the average embroiderer – but you might know others?

Are you Attracted to Magnets?

Whenever I’ve written about magnets or magnetic needle holders or the like here on Needle ‘n Thread, I’ve always heard from folks who love the things and from folks who hate the things.

Where do you fall, and why? Do you use magnets? Do you have any good advice for stitchers on how to use these little tools more effectively or efficiently? Do you have any reason why stitchers might consider avoiding magnets altogether? I’d love to hear your insights! Feel free to join the conversation below!


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(96) Comments

  1. I have a lot of needle minders. Some I bought just because they were pretty but I’ve never used. I tend to favor the flat ones, so that I can park multiple pre-threaded needles parallel to each other. All my needles are now magnetized but it doesn’t bother me.

    1. oooh! I like your idea of using flat ones to hold a row of needles. How about using a flexible magnet strip, or one of those card magnets that come for the fridge – placed above and below as described in the article? I’ve always tossed those big ones that come from businesses when I just don’t need them anymore – (those calendars do get out of date!) This really extends their usefulness. Thanks for the idea!

  2. I love magnets and am not ashamed to say I like to go thematic with them. My collection is growing. One con I have found related to the magnetization of everything – every once in awhile my magnet backs disappear when I am working on a large project on my card table. Eventually I will find it stuck to the edge of the table somewhere.

    One other use is that I attach a magnetic laying tool holder to my mag light so I have it nearby and know where it is. I also always have a spare large magnet on the light to hold the scissors.

  3. I was trained, convent school education, old style approaches, NEVER to allow a magnet near my needles at any time. They can cause needle drag and pulling, and if you work on silk, this can be a bit of a disaster. So I’ve never got into the way of using them, and the few times I’ve had them available, I’ve hated the way my scissors, etc, become magnetized. I guess I’m in the NOT camp!

  4. I too, find those little magnets very attractive and have used them in all sorts of situations around the house…But! I had not thought to place them above and below the work fabric My extra needle would just get shoved in the cushion, or it might pierce the fabric – whatever, it often got lost. What a brilliant idea you’ve presented…Thank you!!!

  5. I have made covered buttons – “Button Buddies” I glue a very strong magnet to the underside and use a less strong second magnet. Have had much trouble when I have used those really strong ones as a set – too difficult to get apart. I have one for every project I work on – they also help me hold fabric in place when I am doing applique and have removed pin to do the needle turn.

  6. Magnets work wonders in keeping your tools at hand, no matter what type of sewing your doing! As a Quilter also, these are Amazing beside your sewing machine…

  7. I adore magnets and I use the button sized rare earth magnets for a strong hold without the bulk. I have a couple of chatelaines that fasten to my shirt with a magnet on front and back that hold my scissors. As needle and pin minders, I hollow out the backs of decorative ceramic tiles then epoxy the magnet into the cavity. I sew them into the covers of needle/pin books to make a nice park for small tools. The list goes on and on. The only down side I’ve found is the tendency to stick everything together if my basket gets jumbled.

  8. I LOVE (!) my little Rare Earth magnets! You’re right, one of the downsides is that they can magnetize everything. The other thing, make sure they’re clean before you attach them to your work. I had an unfortunate experience one time when I’d bought a decorative and magnetic needle minder which was dirty. Oops. Took forever to clean that little spot out of my fabric. I just give the magnets a quickie cleaning and just don’t remove them from my work until I’m finished. I love to have them stored, all nice and lined up in their own little bag (to keep them clean) on the file cabinet that holds my needlework charts near to my stitching nest. Oh! Another word of warning, I was warned to keep small electronics like a cell phone but especially any magnetic strip credit cards away from them. The credit cards are susceptible to being messed up. Fun facts to know and tell!

  9. I for one LOVE magnets, I use them everyday and feel they are very invaluable. My favorite one is one I purchased as a gift to myself and for five of my friends. It is one that you attach to either your clothing or to your needlework and has a scissor lanyard attached and I use it everyday. It is pretty and practical. Where do you get your extra heavy duty magnets, I would like some to use as needle resters when quilting and have not found any that are strong enough to hold through two layers of fabric and batting.

    1. For those of you looking.for the Rare Earth.magnets, or magnets of varying sizes and strengths, check out Lee Valley catalog on line.
      (Leevalley.com) I just got an order of their itty bitty magnets to turn some magnetized buttons into sets to be used for needlepoint. One magnet under the canvas, one decorated magnet on top of the canvas to give to some friends. I have a pacemaker/
      Defibrillator, but as long as I keep the magnets away from my chest, I am ok. Check with your cardiologist.

  10. I would love to use magnets. It seems you have used them to great advantage. However, for those of us who have pacemakers, alas, they are not for us.

  11. I am definitely a pro magnet person. All of my small boxes that have the different sized needles have magnets in them so whenever a box drops and opens the needles stay attached to the magnet. The temporary magnetism of a scissor, or an awl helps me to retrieve a needle on the current work is a plus. Yes, I also bought a pretty heart shaped one because it was pretty. I sew some quilted potholders that have a magnet in it so it sits on a pot lid. They are great gadgets and I’m a gadget lover to begin with.

  12. Hello, Mary,

    I love the little tantalising glimpses of Late Harvest in this post! It’s looking lovely.

    Many years ago, I read of a clever idea – to use a magnet to pick up spilt pins on the floor. I made my own clothes but never had enough hours in the day after work; when I spilt a full pin tin, I used the magnet and behold! it worked wonderfully! But…for two years after that, I could not pick up a single pin from that tin – one always came attached to others; in a lump at first, then gradually into a string of 20 or so… Even at the end it was hard to get just one! (And they had to be the extra long extra fine lace pins that I didn’t want to throw out.) Magnetised needles I don’t care about, but it was hard to pin a hem or pin out a pattern. I’ve been wary ever since and the nightmare returns whenever you mention magnets. They’re all yours!

    1. Hi Alison,

      you are able to demagnetize weakly magnetized Material like Pins and so on.
      Just shake the pins in their box or knock a pair of scissors a few times on the table. With this movements the magnetism will disapear, because you whirl all the little magnetic charges of the molecules in your not permanent magnet (your pins f.e.).
      To cheap (produced) magnets this could also happen if you drop them to often, too. They lose there magnetising nature.


  13. I have a good strong magnet on the “stem” of my floor lamp. I keep my scissors and needle there. That way, I don’t have scissors *on* my project. Knowing me, if I kept them on the project, I would find a way to poke a hole in the project with them,even if they were theoretically immobilized.

    Magnets are also good for sweeping the sofa to recover dropped needles and pins!

    1. Hi Lokispeaks, Congrations!! You’ve just won the Harried Needleperson’s Prize for solving one of life’s greatest’s problems with your “sweeping the sofa (with a magnet) to recover dropped needles and pins”. Now I’m off to find that huge magnet that my father-in-law bequeathed to the family many years ago.

    2. One day I was visiting my best friend. She does not sew much and asked me if i could fix a hem that had come out of her shirt. I told her I would be happy to and she got her sewing box. Since most of the hem jad come out, I pinned the hem before I started sewing. As I was cleaning up, I accidentally knocked over the container of straight pins. Since neither of us like shoes, we were both barefoot. I told her not to move and I got up and went to her kitchen. I grabbed a refrigerator magnet and swept it all around the floor, picking up the pins. She looked at me and said she never would have thought about doing that. It worked great!

  14. Magnets also cause serious havoc with my computerized sewing machine, but I love them and use them anyway. In my sewing area, the two look like brother and sister in the back seat on a long road trip. The sewing machine is on one end of the table and the embroidery frame is on the other end.

  15. I LOVE my magnets!
    I use a pretty one (or two) on the fabric for needles.
    I have a strong one on the flexible arm of my light which hold a tiny pair of scissors just in reach.
    The most useful thing I use a pair for is to hold the starting end of the thread, doesn’t waste any by chopping off a waste knot and if I am working to stitch over the starting tail it holds it until it is buried, one less thread to weave in later!
    Wouldn’t be without them! 🙂

  16. Instead of tossing the magnets with ads on them I cover the tops with pretty fabric using either spray glue or tacking glue and you have another magnet for whatever you want to use it for.

    1. What a great idea!!! What a wonderful collection of talented and brilliant people there are on this list.

  17. Dear Mary

    I don’t use small magnets but they look a great way to hold scissors, needles etc. I do have a telescopic magnet when I drop things this is handy, I’m always looking for my needles or scissors perhaps magnets is the answer to the lost needle dilemma. the Although I’m getting better at parking my needle when I’m not using them, this is a lesson I’ve learnt over time. I don’t like the idea of damage to electric equipment but I suppose if you are careful with location then they are harmful. Thanks for sharing your views on the magnet tools with us they seem a good way of parking things on projects. I hope you have great weekend.

    Regards Anita Simmance

    1. I love my telescopic magnet, too, Anita! Comes in ever-so-handy when I drop a needle and can’t find it on the floor. Just a swipe of the telescope magnet, and voila! the lost needle – usually with a couple forgotten friends in tow!

    2. I love mine too. And I also love the one for picking larger things up that looks like claws on the end of a longish stick/handle. It is also magnetised to works for both types of pick-ups. Great for those of us with arthritis etc.

      I haven’t used small magnets on my actual sewing but I think I will after this. Plus I will try to work out how and where I can put some to hold my scissors etc. I do most of my embroidery in bed these days so some locations are out. But even the one for the needles will be good – I am forever in trouble for losing them on the waterbed. Not a good look, sewing in a lake, lol.

  18. Great idea!!! Thank you for this! I can not count the times I have had to “dig” around for my favorite scissors in my chase pillows because they have slipped off my lap-desktop! I have so many needle holders as well. I am not good at threading several needles ahead of time. I like that idea, however, have not tried that. My projects are not pre-packaged with threads so I may change colors to choose different effects!
    Will definitely try both ideas! Thank you so much!!!
    I will let you know know how it goes!

  19. I’m a lover of magnets! Another use for them is to hold odd ends of thread and keep them out of the way (i.e.: when you’ll need the thread in about 3 or 4 stitches further on but want to fill in first). One of my teachers at EGA Seminar taught us that – very handy.
    And when you loose your needle, look first at your scissors – you’re so right – they are magnitizes so nicely.

  20. Hi, Mary ~ Hope all is well with you on your journey. I just read your article on the Neodymium magnets. I like magnets, too! I use the lesser-strength magnetic pin holders, wands, seam guides, metal instruction-holding board, etc.

    The web site below is very informative as to the precautions that should be taken with this type of magnet. In addition to electronics and digital devices…I see that others have mentioned computerized sewing machines and heart pacemakers, etc., these and other cautions are covered at this site, as well as keeping these types of magnets away from children!

    Also, unless coated, these strong magnets can rust (iron content). They can also be flammable if mistreated!

    Thank you for your article! I will try the smaller size, that you use.

    Janet in Texas


  21. For years I have used magnets to help with my needlework needle storage when I must set down my work for even a couple of seconds while I pick something else up.

    Don’t forget about the telescoping magnetic pickup tool! They are wonderful for picking up dropped metal items without having to bend or stretch. They even work if you can not see where the dropped item really is. Just move the wand moving slowly through a reasonable work area until you hear a click when the item snaps onto the magnet.

    I have used the small tins with a bead mat for portability, but I never thought to add a magnet to the bottom of the tin to position the beads right on my mounted work. That is a wonderful idea.

    A couple of the prior posts have asked where to get the magnets. While I have no financial interest in the company other than finding all sorts of toys each time I enter one of their stores, or look through their online catalog, I have found that Harbor Freight Tools is a very good place to find a wide variety of tools, including magnets, at VERY reasonable prices.

    1. I LOVE Harbor Freight!! You can get many sewing and crafting tools there without the high craft store prices. I especially like their crafty hands tools and magnifiers. Those are jewelers arms with an array of alligator clips to work on very small items in a variety of angles and configurations. They sell a whole line of crafting and hobby tools and are much, much cheaper than the specialty hobby stores.

  22. I have never used magnets but it sounds like something I could try , I make a book out of flannel and pre thread 3 of all the colors I’ll be using in my project, if I’m working on several different projects I’ll have a book for each one

  23. I love magnets too. I use a metal stand and flexible magnet strips to hold my paper chart and my place on the chart. When on long car trips where I’m not the driver I use a metal baking pan with a rim so that there is no injury from sharp edges should there be a sudden stop. The baking pan is also convenient for collecting all the supplies before storing in a giant zip lock bag. I also use a plastic needle case that has a magnet on one side so that my unused needles are handy but safe. I’ve never used the strong magnets you favor but I will keep an eye out for them as I would love to have them for my scissors.

    1. I love the idea of the baking tin with an edge to hold stuff while stitching and traveling. I do a lot of stitching while my husband drives (that way I don’t notice the tailgating). Am definately going to get a smallish tray.

  24. I don’t see a mention of where to buy the smallest magnets. I will have to order online as I live in an isolated area. The ones available on Amazon appear to be quite large.

    1. Mary, there is one Con with the very strong magnets. Anyone who has a pacemaker or the combo
      Pacemaker/defibulator has to be careful in the use
      the very strong magnets. I do use the magnets, but do not bring them up close to my chest. I would advise patients to discuss the use of the magnets
      with their cardiologist for his determination of their individual case.

    2. I think I bought my first set of ‘strong’ magnets in the craft section of walmart. They’re about 1/2″ wide. I haven’t seen that size at walmart since. The ones I’ve seen since are much smaller, maybe 1/4″.

      I’ve also seen this type of magnet at michaels. Again the 1/2″ size seems to sell out a fair bit quicker than the smaller ones. I don’t recall if Joanns had them, or hobby lobby.

      I chose to not buy the smaller ones as it would be harder to ‘park’ multiple needles on it. I often keep 2-3 needles on my magnet, if I use it often it’s on the front, if it’s for a special use (like a larger eye for metallics or 3+ pieces of floss at a time), it’s parked on the back until I need it.

  25. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my magnets!! I have them everywhere in my stitching area. I have them stuck on my daylight lamp and use them to hold my needle threaders. I’ve probably lost more needle threaders than most people own, but with my magnet, I always know where it is. They hold my stitch counters, my thread puller, my scissors, my needles. Like you, I prefer the super strong magnets – life wouldn’t be the same without them!

  26. There is a small tool you can get that has two openings — one to magnetize the other to demagnetize. It is commonly used for screwdrivers, etc. and is inexpensive. That would solve the problem of magnetized scissors. Harbor Freight or Home Depot would probably have them in the tool section.

  27. I bought a magnetic needle holder but don’t use it very much. I work “in hand” so no place to put it. When I did try the magnetic needle holder on a hoop, I found the needles could get knocked off of the magnet. do use a chatelaine around my neck where I put my needles on when not stitching; it has a loop at the end for my scissors, too. I am not pro or con magnets…just have found something else that works better for me. I do have a magnetic scissors holder that use for my eye glasses instead…I put that on my shirt.

  28. I don’t use magnets as such, although I might try them for my scissors now! I have a variety of needlelace keepers that now I have started using them I am quite lost without, when for whatever reason they aren’t on my work! Definitely in the ‘love’ category and will be on the lookout for something to hold scissors! Thanks Mary.

  29. My husband being a nuclear engineer, had in his tool box a 4″ long half of a metal pipe that is so strong it really pulls anything. I have it stuck to the floor lamp post. I thread several needles of the project I am working on and have them there. So convenient, thread hangs without tangling and ready for me when I need them. I love this magnet. If I drop pins, all I do is run it on the rug and all come right up.

  30. I buy little circular magnetized tins from the dollar store and put fiddly little sewing things into them and mount them on the side of a metal filing cabinet. I also buy separate sets of magnets from a hobby store and glue them to the tiny round jewelers containers you can find at any craft or needlework store to mount in the same way. That way I can see everything at a glance and don’t have to sort through a bunch of little containers.

    Be wary of the strong magnets, though. I destroyed the innards of a camera by putting it too close to a big magnetized box. Mary is absolutely right about that. A magnet can also wreck a credit card.

  31. Our local senior apartments recycle the flat advertising magnet by taking pictures of a resident and gluing it over the ad. I have one with my long deceased father on the refrigerator. I get to see him every day. What a lovely way to look at your grandchild or other loved one while stitching.

  32. Love-hate here, too. I keep my tablet next to my chair, and keep a magnet on my fabric so, dangerous, to say the least. I would love to keep using both, but think that they ought to develop magnet proof tablets. Don’t use the magnets on velvet, though, as they will flatten the nap (voice of experience).

  33. I bought a very decorative flat needle holder but the “very strong magnet came off, so I created a solution that works, but completely forgot about the electronic equipment issue. I just put your sampler alphabet on my iPad, and will be very careful where I set it in conjunction with my sewing box. The scissors, if not on a flat surface, should be points down, or maybe I am the only one who missed that with my scissors.

  34. I use a telescoping wand to pick up all sorts of dropped things around the sewing machine, I also have a 2x4thin magnet to toss my sewing pins onto, and a tin with a magnet liner for appliqué pins, and a rectangular container with a magnet in the top which came with paper clips but makes a great pin dish. I just shake it to get a few pins up as I need them and the rest stay down, especially if I happen to drop the whole works..some of the ideas suggested sound great to me and worth a try!

  35. Not against magnets, but keeping threaded needles on one seems dangerous with kitties around. When embroidering I park threaded needles on the work itself. When sewing by hand or machine I park needles and pins on my left side, over my heart. I’m so skittish about pins and needles, I note how many I have pulled out of their containers, literally write down the number on a small dry erase board, and count back when I put them away. Mainly because of the cats , but also because I am diabetic and they really scare you over feet and cuts and amputation (even though I have no signs of neuropathy, I’m totally hysterical over that).

    1. I’ve got cats and I ‘taught’ them that my stitching stuff is no-touchy. I can leave floss out and they won’t bother it.

      I use a music stand to hold my patterns, and it’s got 2 rotating metal bars that are used to help hold up the music…well I use those bars to hold my pre-cut floss when I’m about to use up a ton of it in a short period of time. I’ve left floss dangling from the arm/s for weeks at a time and nothing goes missing.

      I also tend to only use 1-2 needles per project, so if both needles are on the magnet, I don’t worry about one on the floor. (Until I drop one and can’t find it…)

  36. I love to use magnets as well, but as a Pediatrician I feel I must warn new users of the very serious threat if magnets are swallowed by children or pets. Magnets will stick to any metallic item or other magnet, even inside the body of whoever swallows them, much to the detriment of any tissues lying between the magnets. These items will not pass and require open surgery to remove. So stitch away at will, but watch your toddlers and fur babies around all magnets

  37. To be honest, I’ve never considered using magnets.I can see how and why they’re helpful, but I’m not sure I’d need them. I doubt I’d hate them though.

    Over this next week I’m busy moving so will be setting up my new desk area, stitching seat (going to IKEA for a lovely new sofa) and bookshelves. A lot of work, but quite fun too!

  38. I have used magnets quite a bit in the past, even keeping the straight pins in an auto machanics bolt holder. But I got so tired of my small scissors, which landed in that holder a lot, being magnetized and picking up straight pins. I wouldn’t notice and then when I would use them the pins would turn and get caught in the cut I was making. A great way to ruin a pair of scissors. So I quit using magnets. I recently found a de-magnetizer at the local big box lumber store. This one was a Home Depot but they are at Lowes also I believe. Right there on the wall with the screw drivers. It has a positive and a negative so you can magnetize things or de-magnetize them. Don’t plan on going back to magnets but I love knowing that if I do I can use this little gadget to fix my scissors.

  39. Nope, they’re not for me, Mary. I really do not like magnetised needles and scissors. The useful telescopic picker-upper hangs on a metal bolt on the legs of my side table, where it can be found in a hurry but is safely out of the way of my other tools, but that’s the only exception. The parking spot for my working needle between sessions is top right of the fabric (I’m left-handed)and the scissors go on their own place on the side table, so I know exactly where to lay my hand on them. Other needles for a project sit on a strip of fabric while waiting to be used, and that strip sits next to the scissors and thread. I’m the world’s most disorganised person in many ways, but I’m a creature of (non-magnetised) habit when it comes to embroidery.

  40. I love the magnets. I don’t find that they cause any trouble at all. I like the fact that the needle is always in the same place when I pause or end my embroidery session. For me they make using needles much safer.

    Cynthia on Vancouver Island, BC, CA

  41. Mary, You might add an additional comment about the “con” of hazard to MEDICAL devices from the neo magnets. Pacemakers, implanted medicine pumps, any implanted wire stimulators (brain, spine) are susceptible as well. That said, I like the strong magnets and especially the ability to turn my frame over and not lose stuff to the floor. Thanks as always for your thoughtful and balanced reviews. Hope all is going well with you.

  42. I think that whoever decided to put magnets on the canvas and embroidery hoops was a genius. I would be lost without it.

  43. I love those little magnets and use them all the time. Not only,for,needles and scissors but to hold protective tissue over my design to keep it clean as I stitch. BUT I don’t have small children who could accidentally ingest them. Nor do I have any sort of implanted medical device that could be affected by them.

  44. Hi Mary,
    I love my magnetic needle minders. I have a growing collection of cute designs glued to the top magnet so I can swap & choose them for each project. No plain magnets here 🙂 apart from the handiness of keeping my needles, scissors & pins quickly accessible, I also use my minders to hold my parked threads out of the way, I just loop the excess thread around the top of the minder, which is also handy if I need to keep some tension on the parked thread. Here’s a link to my favourite Etsy shop selling gorgeous but affordable minders. https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/Stitchinmad

  45. I love magnets! Imagine my delight when I got a job working at a company that made them! Did you know that those flexible ones you get free occasionally are actually made of granules? They’re fed into a big machine that mashes them together and then rolls them out as a big sheet of flexible magnet, which is then cut into pieces.

    I had a brilliant neodymium magnet that was super strong – it was rectangular, about 1.5cm x 1cm x 1cm. I left it on top of the filing cabinet one day, and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t unlock the cabinet – until a colleague removed the magnet, which had been sat right on top of the locking mechanism!

    Anyway, in craft terms, I find it sort of annoying when all my pins etc are magnetised. I’ve never used them as a scissor holder, that is a good idea.

  46. I have a stack of those super magnets that I got from taking apart something I didn’t want. Not only do I use them on my work, but I have two on my metal lamp that I attach needles and scissors when I’m not using them.

  47. I do use them a lot an love them, especially when using more than one needle in projects with different type/colours of thread.

    Remember Mary’s basket with pumpkins? Well, I embroidered that and then backed it and put 2 strong magnets in it side by side, separated by stuffing,and the whole basket can then be used as a needle minder.
    I made that pumpkin basket for our ‘Kriss Kringle’ gift at the embroidery guild (one makes a present, get a number ticket for it and then a present is given to a number but never one’s own—a very efficient lady keeps track!)
    I put a ‘how to use me’ note with it.

    I also use the calendar and business type ones on the table next to me to hold pins I need to pick up often.

    Works a treat!

  48. I seem to collect the strong magnets that keep work name badges in place. They’re super strong, and are in a little frame, so larger than the littler magnets. I’ve attached them with double sided tape or bluetack to my embroidery frame and sewing machines.

    I love this idea of using 2 magnets on your fabric – so conventient!

  49. It is so good to read all of these ‘magnetic’ comments. For me, a simple flat fridge magnet at my work table helps keep things tidy and for disasters, like spilling the whole pin jar, a larger magnet is on standby.

  50. Finally moved and unpacking like mad. No computer but I’m able to use my phone now and then. Kind of iffy whether or not I can post.
    I don’t use magnets and don’t think I ever will. I can just see myself bumping my scissors off onto the floor or poking a hole in my work. I like the old fashion pin cushions to park my needles. I sewed a pin cushion to the wrapping on the clamp that holds my hoops when I reworked the floor stand to suit my needs. I also added a circle screw eye and a cup hook to the leg of my floor stand. I tied a ribbon to the screw eye and tied the other end of that fairly long ribbon to the scissors and I hang the scissors on the cup hook. I made sure the ribbon did not reach the floor so the scissors can’t hit the floor. So my pin cushion and my scissors are both very convenient and I don’t have to worry about doing anything to phones and computers and cameras and such.

  51. I’m also in the “not” camp. It drives me nuts when all my stuff gets magnetized. @@

    One magnetic thing that I would like to get, though, is one of those wands with a magnet at the end, to help find or pick up dropped pins and needles! That would have been handy more than a few times. 😀

  52. I glued a piece of strip magnet to the inside of an empty plastic allergy bottle and keep straight pins in it. it makes a wonderfully portable pin cushion and all ya need to do is shake it to get the pins to the top of the bottle.

  53. I am in the pro group. Have used the needle minders for a long time and also have the wand. The needle minders are wonderful when taking projects with you. After reading all of the comments, I will be using them even more. Such great ideas. Thanks to everyone for making my stitchery needs more organized.

  54. I think magnets are the cheapest/ best tools available for so many thing! Not only do I use them for needles and pins, but magnetized screwdrivers and knife holders keep everything secure yet easy to remove.

  55. I glued some old buttons to the top of a magnet to ‘pretty it up’ and use it with an under magnet for parking needles but with a bit of a twist. I put a piece of felt or flannel between the magnets, then stick my needles in that. It holds more needles so I can easily see what I have and if it comes loose I can find a piece of felt a lot easier than one needle that flipped off the magnet.

    For beads, I use a sticky mat for travel but for sewing, I use double sided tape on my thumb – about 1/2 to 3/4 inch piece is plenty – right between my 2 joints. Just dip it into the beads and stitch right off your thumb. It’s so much faster, you won’t believe it and when your thread gets short, it won’t matter because you are not moving your needle down to a tray or mat at all.

  56. The seminar concierge wondered why so many embroiderers had difficulty with their hotel room card keys. I presume someone finally told him that during lunch break many of us had visited the vendor to purchase the newest stitchers’ gadget, the handy dandy magnet sets, and we had carried them to class in our pockets — along with our electronic room keys. What did we know?

  57. I love my needle minders. I have several of the kelmscot ones and bought one for my daughter. They are a handy place to park a needle or two and even keep a pattern close to the work in progress. Having a working needle magnetized doesn’t bother me at all.
    I used to use several 1.5 inch squares with a Rhodes stitch center and mounted on a Velcro dot that I could put on a companion dot on the frame containing the WIP. However the magnetic type is much easier to move and can be used in a hoop as well as a frame.

  58. I am a long time user of magnets. I found some in the Barnes and Nobles
    Store which come in a set of approximately four. Each one is a plastic
    Strip with a good strong magnet encased in each end. They are supposed
    To be bookmarks, but you can put them on a chart, or a canvas, or on
    The edge of your needlework if on stretcher bars. They will hold any size
    Embroidery scissors, etc. I like them, because they are easy to get off And
    On. They are also great for holding some threads together, or to put
    On a fold up cloth scissor or needlework case when traveling, to rest
    Scissors, or needles on when not using. You just fold the strip over the
    Edge of whatever you want it on and the magnet at either end stick together.

  59. I have never used magnets, but I can certainly see their uses. After reading this I think I will be picking up some heavy duty ones next time I’m at Lee Valley.

  60. I love to use little magnets for holding charts, when I’m doing counted work, and needles. I’m also making myself one of your bead tins … I’ve got the tacky mat I just have to find an appropriate tin (not so easy in NZ). I must admit that I don’t use them for my scissors as I’d prefer they did not become magnetised. I might one day change my mind if I start spending too much time searching for them, but for now I’m keeping good enough track that I don’t lose them often.

    Just a little note, in case you are interested, things become magnetised not magnetically charged. The little iron atoms in, e.g., needles and scissors (plus a few other types of atoms) are themselves tiny little magnets, but they all point in different directions so there is no overall magnetisation. When you put a needle or similar in a strong enough magnetic field it causes all the tiny little atomic magnets to line up in the direction of the field, thereby magnetising it. They stay this way unless something happens, like a lot of heat, to cause them to become random again.


  61. I love the magnet on the work idea, never thought of that!

    I have a question? How do you chose a project? I have several notebooks full of patterns plus, plus, plus and they are ALL exciting and I want to do them but how do I settle on just one? I’m leaning toward a “pin the tail on the donkey” approach. I have been without a project for several weeks now because of my indecisiveness. HELP Please.

    Thank you for ALL of your ideas they are always ALWAYS helpful.


  62. I heard of this idea here for the first time, and tried it. I got two (craft)magnets, and stuck them on the fabric I am currently working on, to see if I liked this new idea. I loved it! I parked threads on it, needle and all, and could pick it up and swap threads around without any bother. Did´nt love the idea that the needles will be magnetized, so i made two tiny needlecushions, and glued them on either side of the magnets. Now I can park my threads, without the worry for my needles. also, I can park threads on the underside, for when I´m not sure where I´ll want to come topside again.
    Gods blessing for your health, Mary! Greetings from Germany!

  63. I adore using magnets for the exact reasons you have started, and for the added benefit that I can use it to find a lost needle in my sitting area or on the floor.

  64. If you do use magnets witch I do. I don’t have any children but if anyone does. I have seen where children have swallowed small magnets and this caused them to have to have bowel surgery and even end up with a colonoscopy because the magnets would connect two parts of their bowels together or the bowels and other organs. So if you have children and use magnets please be really careful with them and make sure you have all the magnets you had when you started your project that session.

    1. In my comment I meant to say the child ended up with a colonoscopy bag. After having Surgery to remove swallowed magnets.

  65. I made a Victorian Workbox (six-sided, folds up into a box and down into a basket when you take the lid off and the 6 gores spread out). This holds lots of my small needlework tools and notions and special bits for whatever project I’m working on.

    In the base I sandwiched in 6 small, thin strong magnets (from ex-computer drives) so that when I make a matching “mini workbox” with its own magnets in its base it will automatically click into the right position inside its Mother and not “rattle around” in there. In this I will put the really teensy things that get lost inside the bigger workbox.

    I can’t think of any other “invisible” way I could have done it – magnets are little bits of magic.

    <> I really must make that little thing one day!!

  66. I have some magnets but haven’t actually used them the way you do. Most of my projects are on the small side or I’m using a smallish hoop on a large project. I do use them to hold down my charts but I can see where they would be really handy with a large frame (I try to keep my scissors consistently in the same place but you know how that can go!). I’m going to try it your way for my nest project.

  67. Since I have RA, picking up a dropped needle can be a challenge. How nice to have a magnetized pair of scissors handy to help grasp it!

  68. I always use magnets to secure needles and scissors. But, a little warning, stitchers need to ensure the magnets will not ‘stain’ or leave marks on their material……magnets should be placed outside the perimeter of their work.

  69. As much as I use magnets, I can’t believ I hadn’t thought of this neat, handy idea. I’m forever searching for my needles beneath piles of embroidery threads.

  70. I do use magnet to hold my pins, however I had never thought of using it on my work surface. That’s a wonderful tip Mary since I waste a lot of time searching for my needle when I change the threads or return to my work after a break.

  71. I haven’t tried using magnet, but it sounds like a great idea. The small tin idea intrigues me, as does not losing my needle. A tiny pin cushion made from a metal bottle cap may be useful…Thank you for sharing your ideas!!

  72. My humble comment : why not take out just a little of the dark, rich brown instead of all of it? Some dark brown appears to add a quality look with texture.

    Magnets: I can’t live without them!! I save tiny little would-be storage containers, like Sucret – throat logenses(sp) -tins, then put magnet strips inside on the deeper portion, then add my needles. When time is up for embroidery work I just close the lid and never worry about a needle on the floor that might harm my precious Australian shepherd. Jo in SC

    1. Hi, BillieJo – Well, the problem with taking out just the dark brown – which I contemplated doing, originally – is that, with wool, it’s so very messy to pick out long & short stitch (especially!) and leave adjacent stitches intact. Everything ends up fuzzy! 🙁

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