Tools / Tutorials

DIY sewing machine needle storage system tutorial

Let me introduce you to my new sewing machine needle storage system! Keeping track of sewing machine needles is not an easy task. So many types and sizes, plus how can we separate those that are currently in use from the fresh, unused ones? I’ve struggled so much I’ve even done a video about it (and some other sewing frustrations). Luckily I got some fantastic comments with suggestions on how to improve my storage solution, and I took these and mixed them with some of my own personal storage preferences and ideas.

So let’s take a look at how I made this….

Making a sewing machine needle storage system using a plastic storage box with dividers

You’ll need

  • A plastic organiser box with dividers (these can be found in hardware, crafts and home improvement stores). Mine is from the international chain store Flying Tiger that comes in a set of three that can be stacked.
  • A label maker
  • Magnetic tape or felt

1. Pick the right plastic box

Make sure you get one that has big enough compartments for the needle boxes. I like mine to have a removable lid as that makes accessing the needles even easier, but one with an attached lid will work too.

2. Make labels for the needle types

I.e. Universal, Jeans, Stretch etc. All the needle types you use basically, or at least the ones you use the most.

3. Attach the label to the corresponding compartment

Now you have the basic set-up covered, with an easy to access solution for all your needle types.

4. Create labels for the needle sizes

Just the ones you usually use obviously, no point in making a size 110 label for stretch needles!

5. Attach the size label

So the label sits outside the matching compartment, Stretch in this case. This will be for the needles that are currently in rotation.

6. Bring out the magnetic tape!

I got this suggestion from a viewer on my sewing live stream about needles. Genius! That said, the magnetic tape I got didn’t have a great sticky surface. So I had to use some Blu-Tack too to get it to really stick to the box. Strips of felt attached with Blu-Tack or stick pads will work as well (I tried this before I switched to the magnetic tape).

7. Attach the tape

I placed it just under the size labels. The tape was slightly too wide, but I didn’t want to start trimming this thick tape.

7. Place the in-use needles to the magnetic strip

Now all my current in-use needles are all lined up and ready to go.

The whole box

So far I’m really loving this system. No more having to use a magnifying glass to figure out which needle I’m using. Plus sorting and picking needles takes only seconds no since I have this box open and easy to access, very close to my sewing machines.



  • Lorna
    March 1, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Oh my word, this is a real game changer! I rarely remember to put the needles back in the correct packet and then don’t remember which is the one I’ve been using. I’m off to Tiger in the morning 🐯

    • Johanna
      March 1, 2019 at 10:23 pm

      Yay! The storage system was very inexpensive and comes with three boxes and one lid

  • Ann
    March 1, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    I keep mine in a similar box along with presser feet. I created a laminated sheet similar to what you find in a box of chocolate that describes what is in each section. Also on this sheet I have the following:
    Universal Jersey ____
    Left: Universal Jersey ____
    Right: Universal Jersey ____

    Using a dry-erase marker, I underscore the type of needle and write the size on the line. Then I know what is in my machine.

    I always store my used needles in the left-most position of the needle case so I know which are used and which are new.

  • A Beecroft
    March 1, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    Six compartments in the needle box.
    Six categories of needles:

    • Johanna
      March 1, 2019 at 10:24 pm

      Topstitch and Serger (ELX) needles!

  • Karen Wetherall
    March 20, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    Hi, I have just ordered your book as I treated myself to a coverstitch machine a month ago! I just wanted to say I made a folder for my needles, a page per type with felt for part used ones and pockets for new packets. I use a bookmark to show me what is in my machine now!

    I offered it as a free download for those enthusiastic enough to make their own! It is on the old site, the address is sew-what’ if anyone is interested.

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