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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Got Tulip Needles? (Or Bead Tubes?) – Organizational Tip


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What do embroidery needles and Q-Tips (or cotton swabs) have in common?

Sounds like the beginning of a dumb joke, doesn’t it? Well, there’s no punchline…

As you can see, I’m not kicking off the stitching part of the New Year just yet, but I hope you are!

In the meantime, though, this is a fun little tip for organization, especially if you use Tulip needles or small tubes of beads and you want to pack them up for easy organization. This storage solution works great for travel purposes, too!

Tulip Needle Storage and Organization Tip

This tip was not my idea, just so you know. I learned it from a friend who was visiting Kansas City, where we met up for some shop talk. It’s just too good not to share with you, and I think it proves the power of using everyday items to good effect when it comes to storage and organization for needlework.

If you’ve ever bought travel sized anything, you might already know that, many times, travel sized goods offer interesting packaging solutions.

Tulip Needle Storage and Organization Tip

It just so happens that Q-Tips brand cotton swabs come in small travel containers like the one pictured above, in different colors. They’re colored, but clear, so you can see through them.

And, more to the point, they’re the perfect size for…

Tulip Needle Storage and Organization Tip

…exactly seven tubes of Tulip needles!

Some standard sized bead tubes would also fit within.

Cute, eh?

Tulip Needle Storage and Organization Tip

Some great points about the Q-tip travel boxes:

1. They are the perfect size for Tulip needle tubes. They’re just the right height.

2. Seven Tulip needle tubes fit in one box perfectly. Not too tight, not too lose. Just right!

3. The boxes are clear so that you can see the labels on the tubes. If you really wanted to, I suppose you could write on the top of the corks, but you don’t really need to.

4. They’re affordable – They’re about $1.00 for a box, and they come cotton swabs in them that you can use for other things.

5. The lid is easy open, and it snaps shut.

Though I’m sure the plastic lid will wear with use (the hinged part is just thinner plastic), they are excellent little boxes and sturdy for this purpose. I think they’ll last for a good bit of time before the “hinge” wears out.

Tulip Needle Storage and Organization Tip

Now, I do want to mention that not all cotton swab travel containers are made alike.

I tried a few of the generic brand containers to see how they would work for the same tubes.

They don’t really work as well. Now, when it comes to cotton swabs, I’m not a snob. I don’t have to have the name brand! But when it comes to cotton swab boxes, the Q-Tip brand ones are the ones that really fit.

Tulip Needle Storage and Organization Tip

The generic brands that I found had boxes that were too tall, slightly deeper, but not as wide. The height was problematic, because the tubes shifted too much with movement and the corks came loose.

Tulip Needle Storage and Organization Tip

Only five Tulip tubes, with some leftover space, fit abreast in the generic brand’s box. The leftover space also allows a little too much movement with the tubes.

So, just keep in mind, if you go out searching for cotton swab travel boxes, that they aren’t all the same.

Tulip Needle Storage and Organization Tip

I love my little Q-Tip boxes full of tubes of Tulip needles. Some day, I might concoct a way to make them a little more attractive, but for now, they’re not bad looking and they’re wonderfully serviceable!

So if you are out and about, looking for storage or organizational solutions for your Tulip needles – or maybe you’re a beader and you travel with tubes of beads – you might consider checking out Q-Tip travel boxes. They work!

And that’s your handy-dandy needlework tip for the week!

Don’t you love it when everyday items contribute so well to the wonderful world of embroidery?

Short Update

Thanks so much for all the good wishes and prayers that poured in earlier this week for my mom.

She is presently still in critical care. In fact, I’m typing this at the hospital. It’s long days, and we don’t have a definite time frame for recovery (or as much recovery as we can expect), nor really a clear prognosis yet. It’s a matter of waiting at this point.

Thank you so much for all your kind words! I wish I could reply to everyone individually but alas…!

Enjoy your weekend!


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(36) Comments

  1. Great idea. For my larger collection of
    Tulip Needles I use a Floss Inn roll up
    Bag with 15 slots. But I love the Q-tip box idea for traveling.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May God’s warm embrace bring you comfort.


  2. Hugs to you, and here’s hoping your mom recovers fully and faster than you could possibly hope for – and that your stitching relieves some of the stress!


  3. I’ve been using the Q-tips boxes for years – but not for embroidery purposes. I carry one in my pool bag because I hate water in my ears after swimming therapy. Now I will grab a few more ’cause you can’t have too many perfect storage containers. That’s been my mission for these first couple weeks of the year. I’m getting all my embroidery stuff organized as perfectly as possible. It’s a very satisfying project, then I dive in to the next big project.

    And, of course, many more prayers for your Mom and your family … and you. You’re not alone.

  4. First of all, continued prayers and good wishes for your mother, Mary, and thanks for tip on the Q-tip container.

    Just a hint for when that hinge wears out unless you want to buy a new one. When my Q-tip travel container hinge broke, I very neatly taped it back with a strip of Duct tape and I am amazed at how long it has been like that and working for me every day. This may sound cheap (as opposed to just buying a new one) but I am all about repurposing and reusing.

  5. Great idea! Also, when the plastic box “hinges” do wear out, they can be replaced by strips of electrical or packing tape. If you also put a little tape over the adhesive side that’s exposed when the lid is open, it strengthens the “hinge” as well as keeping dirt and fluff off the exposed sticky bit.

  6. My best wishes for your mother. I hope the hospital finds out exactly what is wrong soon, so they can give her the right treatment.
    Those boxes look very useful. I have a little, round holder that once contained earplugs. It now holds my travelling hunk of beeswax perfectly. It is see-through orange plastic, and has a similar plastic hinge. It has lasted for 7 years, so I should think your box will keep your Tulips happy for a long time.

  7. Morning Mary ~ What a lovely little tip you provided this morning, my dad would save his A1 tobacco tins to keep his nuts, bolts, screw etc, organized in his work shop. They stacked nicely, and fit on little shelves he put in between the studs of the shed. LOL, there was a whole wall of them.
    As far as replying to each person who is sending their thoughts and prayers to you and your family ~ we love you and want your life to be smooth sailing. That want is impossible to expect. We just want you to know we are thinking of you and none of us expect a response, ever. GET IT girl, you’ve GOT IT right, GOOD.
    These times are difficult for anyone to live through with no certainty of the outcome. Eat healthy, rest as much as your brain will allow, and lean on each other for support.

  8. Hi Mary….thank you for the update on your mom. Prayers will continue for you all. Don’t forget……Take care of you.

  9. I was hoping to hear good news about your mom today. Sorry it’s not so. Remember to take care of yourself while at the hospital. Get up and walk, go out for tea. It’s tough business.

  10. I’m sorry to hear about your mom. I hope she recovers well, and that you have a good support network around you while you’re waiting.

    On a slightly different note, thank you for a great blog; I very much enjoy reading your posts even if I rarely comment.

  11. I’m hoping the hospital personnel can help your Mom. It’s rough to see our once strong age and become more fragile. Mom is going to be 86 next month and she just started having major health issues the last part of 2017. I do what I can to help out but she prefers to do most of it herself. I love the tip about the Q-Tip container. I don’t know how many tubes I have but to be honest I love the packing they come in. I even learned if you open it from the bottom you can leave the little red string attached. I just bought Tulip beading needles from Amazon and they didn’t come packaged like that. I wonder if they have decided to stop the pretty packaging. Anyway I plan to pick one up. Thanks and take care of yourself too.

  12. I love those Q-Tip travel containers. When I couldn’t find the one I’d had for many years, I went out and bought another, and then of course it turned up, so now I have a spare that I could use for needles, if I had that many needles. Hoping for the best for your mom.

  13. Mary, I was so sad to hear of your mother’s illness. My own mother who is almost 90 is failing day by day following a fall in which she broke her hip, so I have just an inkling of how things are for you just now. You will be in my thoughts as we all hope for a full recovery for your Mom.

  14. Hope your mother is doing well – illness seems to get harder on us as we age.
    I love your Q-Tip storage idea and will definitely use it. I use these boxes to keep my individual plastic vials of eye drops in. I use Restasis but the OTC individual vials are the same size. It’s a handy sizefor traveling but also nice to keep a smaller supply corralled in my drawer for daily use, too.

  15. Wow, this great tip and if I find from where to buy the tubes I am so going to organize my needles this was. In the moment they are rather scattered in bags.

  16. Thank you for passing along this tip. I have several packages of these needles and was wondering what I could put the tubes in so they don’t take up quite so much space and not get lost.

    I bet there’d be a way to put something like a little pincushion in the lid of the other brand’s box to keep the tubes from moving around too much. I also wonder if taping the hinge before it breaks would keep in from breaking.

    Sending good thoughts to your mom and you, and hope some answers come soon.

  17. Dear Mary

    My prayers are with you and your family and I do hope that your mum recovers soon God Bless you all. Thanks for the Q-tip box very useful for needles when travelling and a great storage idea. Take care.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  18. What a super idea! I love storage solutions and especially one that repurposes a disposable plastic item and diverts it from landfill. Awesome idea! And on a personal note, hospital stays are a real challenge so my thoughts are with you and your family at this stressful time.

  19. Thank you Mary. So cute and serviceable. The best part about travelling with this idea – airport personnel can see what’s inside! I found out the hard way recently when I had to take out my embroidery scissors and put them “in the tray” in airport security because they were not easily viewable. It cannot hurt to have needles easily viewable either! Prayers for your mom and family.

  20. Thanks for sharing this tip. The large pack of Wrigley’s Extra gum comes in plastic containers that are 3 x4.5. I was able to put 7 bead containers in one. Great tip .

  21. Good morning, I love this idea but I have one concern regarding needle tip. Wouldn’t this kind of storage affect needle tips? I was thinking that maybe putting a small amount of cotton swab, or piece of fabric, paper towel all the way at a bottom of a tube would protect needle tip. Just a thought. Best regards, Halina

    1. Hi, Halina – The needles would have to be really shaken up often before the plastic tubing would effect the stainless steel tips. A piece of cotton is a good idea, though, if you’re concerned about that. Or maybe a little felted wool ball or something? The problem is, if the tip of the needle sticks into something inside the tube, it might be really hard to shake the needle out. The tubes are too narrow for most adult fingers to get in there to grab a needle.

    2. Thank you Mary for your answer. I work in the lab and found few small plastic tubes that no one is using these days and they are perfect for storing needles as I love this idea. I will put a piece of cotton and see how it works as I agree with you that the needle could stick to it.
      I hope you have good news about your Mom, prayers for your family. Best regards

  22. My tubes of Tulip needles have not come with the labels on them that yours have. Are they sold separately or did you make them yourself? I love the idea of the Q-tip container for storage and travel. The item I’ve been using is this item from the container store with Dritz needle storage tubes (4 fit easily):

    This is a good length for the needle storage tubes (if you use another brand of needle that doesn’t come in the nice tubes Tulip needles come in) and I use the compartments on the other side of the container for needle threaders. I want to find some kind of small container to transfer some of my Thread Heaven into to keep with the rest of the supplies. The compartments are just a little too small to fit the whole container into.

    1. My Tulip needles came with these labels. Did yours come in the tubes, fitted inside the decorative boxes with the red silk cord on the outside? I wonder why yours wouldn’t have labels…?? Hmmm… I will look into that further!

    2. Mine are tapestry needles purchased at my LQS to do wool applique with a little over a year ago. They came in a glass tube with a cork stopper in a yellow box labeled “Tulip”. An anomaly?

    3. Okay, I’m suitable embarrassed – and maybe a little sight-challenged. My needle tube does have a label on it – it’s just that it is in the same size font as on your label in white lettering on a clear label at the very top of the tube – I’d never seen it before!

  23. I do cross-stitch mostly and I find it doesn’t really travel easy. So many things I have to bring! Over Christmas, though, I discovered that a lipstick case is just the right size for a set of tweezers (yup, we have cats), and couple of small needle threaders and a few needles on a small magnet. That helped a lot for me, travelling with all my tiny stuff. 🙂
    (Plus it made the lipstick case someone kindly gifted me actually useful, since I don’t even own a lipstick.)

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