A needle minder is a magnetic stitching accessory designed to help prevent your needle from getting lost when you need to take a short break from your stitching or as you are changing threads. While not an essential tool, it is handy to keep in your workbasket or project bag. They are available in a wide range of styles, colors, and price ranges, and can be collectible. Needle minders can be used while working on any type of needlework, including all types of embroidery, needlepoint, or cross-stitch.
Needle minders are made from two strong magnets with a decorative top and a plain backing magnet. The image above shows a few needle minders with different types of magnets. They are attached by sandwiching the embroidery fabric between the decorative top magnet and the plain backing magnet, typically while in a hoop.
The magnets serve several purposes. The first is for attaching the minder to the fabric, as the magnets won't pierce or puncture your embroidery fabric. Strong magnets are best so that this tool doesn't fall off or move around. It's also important that they don't leave a mark on the fabric.
The second reason to use magnets is that they will hold your needle in place. Often, this will be while you take a break from stitching, or when you need to set your needle down and prepare a new length of embroidery floss. You can also use it to hold pre-threaded or extra embroidery needles securely in place as you stitch. Using a needle minder allows you to pre-thread several needles and park them, which keeps them handy and ready for use while working your embroidery.
If you don't want to attach a needle minder to your work, another similar option is to keep a magnetic pin cushion handy. These come in a variety of styles, but in essence, they are a small dish with a magnet underneath, which holds the needles or pins in place. It's less portable but serves the same purpose.
Where to Buy One
Your local needlework shop may carry a few styles of needle minders, but you'll find a much larger selection online. They are often made of wood, resin, fabric-covered buttons, or other small objects. Hard enamel needle minders that are similar to collectible pins are very popular. You can also make your own needle minder or convert a refrigerator magnet or magnetic pin. If you tend to lose your embroidery needle as you work, this is a tool you'll want to add to your collection.
Caution: Remove the needles and the needle minder from the fabric before tucking everything into your workbasket when you have finished working on your project for the day. The minders may come off while stored, and you will lose your needles. Plus, you don't want to reach into a bag and get an unpleasant surprise! It's much safer to stow your needles in a needlebook when you aren't working.