Make Jane Austen's Needle Case

How many of us have fond memories of learning to sew with a relative? Speaking from my own experience, I am nostalgic about learning to sew under the close tuition of my grandmother, who had been a seamstress in her younger days. It is thought that Jane Austen created the little needle case on the left for a niece of hers, just learning to sew. It is currently on display at Chawton Cottage and bears the following inscription: 'With Aunt Jane's Love'.

This small needle case is great for an afternoon of crafting and would make a great heartfelt token for a friend or relative. You could even, like me, make one as a gift for that special person who taught you to sew.

To make the needle case, you will need:

  • One piece of card or similar material, sized 3" x 5".
  • One piece of patterned paper, sized 2.5" x 4.5".
  • One piece of felt, sized 2.5" x 4.5".
  • Two pieces of ribbon, 12" long and half an inch wide.
  • A needle, some thread and glue.
  1. Fold both the card and the patterned paper in half, vertically.
  2. Open the card and place one piece of ribbon across the middle, horizontally.
  3. Glue the folded patterned paper on top of the ribbon to hold it in place. The ends of the ribbon should stick out, so they can be tied to close the card.
  4. Place the felt directly on top of the patterned paper. This will hold the needles.
  5. Place the other piece of ribbon down the middle of the card, vertically. It should be centred on the fold.
  6. Fix the felt and the ribbon together with a running stitch down the middle, again centred on the fold.
  7. Fold the card closed and tie the ribbon running along the horizontal edge of your needle case as shown in the image. Tie the ribbons at the opening of your needle case to fasten it closed, once your needles have been stored inside.

If you want to make your needle case as close as possible to Jane's original, you can decorate the front with a watercolour motif, just as she did. If you need a little inspiration, you could even consider having a look at some of William Morris' swirling designs from the later nineteenth century!

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2 comments

What a gorgeous little project , thank you 😍

Libby February 24, 2022

What a pretty needlecase this is. It’s wonderful to be able to view items such as this, which are so emotive – far more so than anything more grand. It was obviously made and given with love.

Margaret Mills February 21, 2022

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