Fun with magnets

I have been playing with magnets, self-cover button kits and cute fussy cuts to make needle minders. They take no time to make. The most time-consuming step has been hunting for good magnets.


This is the perfect opportunity to fussy cut cute prints.

I seemed to be spending all my time on the hunt for just the right magnets, but after weeks of sticking my nose in craft stores, hardware stores and children’s art supply stores without much luck, I finally hit gold: magnets that actually stick. I found two Arbee brand magnets in a craft store (not photographed here as I have already given them away) and then, excited about how well they worked, I ordered a dozen more directly online from Arbee.

The idea of the needle minders is simple; they are just fabric-covered buttons. One magnet inside magnetises the button so needles will stay in place. Once the button is assembled, a loose magnet is used on the back to keep the needle minder where you want it. No glue!

After removing the wire part from each button case and wrapping it in fabric, I stuffed a weak magnet and a bit of hobby fill inside to stop it rattling. Initially, I used the weak magnets on the outside too, but now I have some strong ones on order, I repurposed the weak magnets into inside magnets. The weak magnets have enough grip to hold needles but not enough to secure the needle minder in place on your work, a work bag or clothing. The strong magnets are also slimmer and look neater.

I also stuck a few magnets to the bottom of Japanese bowls to make magnetic pin bowls. These were the strongest magnets I could find at the time, but now I wish I had waited and used the Arbee magnets instead. I tested before gluing, but they really do not have enough grip. I will have to look for more pretty bowls when my strong magnets are delivered. My advice is to find the strongest magnets you can if making your own pin bowls – not the ones I used! At least I got a laugh from the silly wording on the packaging.

Magnet glued to bottom of bowl

‘Products to help enable an independent lifestyle’? So, I would be still living with my parents without these?

It seems that unless a magnet has a warning advising caution around children, it will not have much oomph. (Seriously, be careful with magnets around small children.)

Magnetic needle minders in bowl

My pin bowl is not quite magnetic enough, but the needle minders have worked a treat.

I have already given away one bowl and two needle minders, so they seem to make good little gifts.

Do you use magnets in your sewing? What have you made and is it easy for you to find suitable magnets?

32 thoughts on “Fun with magnets

  1. Hi Carla

    This is brilliant. I am going to try to find the magnets to make the needle minders. I help run the craft club for our local WI and I am sure they would all like to make them to bring with them when sewing is part of our meeting.

    Thank you Kate

  2. Cute buttons and clever to have the two magnets so they can be attached to clothing etc. I talked my husband into making me a magnetic pin dish, he found the magnets in his tool box (bit of a hoarder) but they are quite strong as my pins are now magnetised. I also have a great extendable magnetic needle and pin picker upper, and I have weak magnets which just hold a couple of needles and pins for when I’m travelling.

    • You sound like you are well stocked, Pip! I had nothing in the house and had to shop around.

      I have been waving the bottom of the bowl over the carpet to pick up dropped pins. Not quite as fancy as a pin picker upperer, perhaps? 🙂

  3. I use a magnet on the end of a telescopic rod to pick up pins I’ve dropped on the floor. When it’s not in use it collapses into something the size of a pencil. It comes in useful for pulling my tape measure and pin box towards me when my other hand is busy!

  4. I guess the warning about magnets and children is the dire effects if they are swallowed. I saw some great magnets at Daiso today. Do you have one of those near you. They looked quite solid. At $2.80 for a packet of 8 they seemed like good value!

  5. What a cute idea. I have only used small magnetic clasps on a needle case, and they worked very well. I always like playing with magnets. This is a really nice idea.

  6. When I was making pin trays last year, we ordered some crazy strong magnets from Amazon. They worked perfectly! Though it was hard to keep them from drawing together before the glue set! (I put two magnets on each tray). I never thought of the needle keepers… I’m seriously thinking of picking up the supplies for some. What size button did you use?

    • Crazy strong magnets are exactly what you need – at least on the outside.

      I bought 38 mm buttons as they have lots of room inside. You could use smaller as long as your magnet still fits inside. My weak magnets are only 11 mm around but quite deep.

  7. I’ve seen a few people making these on IG lately! They’re so cute and nifty. I have magnetic thingamabob that I use as a pin cushion and I can wave it on the floor to pick pins up which I like. It’s purple though, so it probably has some evil tendencies 😉

    • Anything that discourages me from shoving needles into armchair arms, cushions, my clothing, etc. needs to be encouraged. 🙂

      I suspect the magnets came from China, but I know exactly what you mean about Japlish. On the other hand, I dread to think what silly things I have said in my attempts to learn other languages!

  8. Those are absolutely adorable Carla! I’ve not used any sort of magnetic object in my sewing room but I recently saw these bowls in my instagram feed ( and I thought – hey, I could do that. I even have the magnetic bowl. They’re used by auto mechanics to hold tools. It’s a REALLY strong magnet so I would have to be careful not to get it close to my sewing machine.

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