Medieval Leather Needle Case




Introduction: Medieval Leather Needle Case

About: I'm an engineering student at Cornell University with a passion for making things! If you like what I do consider supporting me on my brand new patreon account at

Just like my last leather tutorial, you will not need any of the fancy leather equipment for this project. This Instructables is designed to be completely created by hand tools that you should already have!

I've recently created a video for you guys, but I want to clarify that there is one small difference in how I stitch the circles on the ends.

This fun little project is quick and easy, let's get started!

Step 1: Materials

For this project you are going to need:

  • Leather (Mine is about 2mm thick, .08 in, or 5 oz)
  • Design (see below)
  • Dowel/Pipe (I used dustpan handle with a diameter of 1.9 cm or .75 in)
  • Utility Knife
  • Ruler
  • Nail
  • Hammer
  • Waxed Thread
  • Two Needles
  • Sandpaper (Optional)
  • Leather Polish (Optional)

*I used a dust pan handle to give shape to this case. If you don't have a similar sized cylinder then you will have to make adjustments in the dimensions, but don't worry the idea and instructions will be nearly the same!

Step 2: Dimensions

To create the case we need to cut six pieces of leather (all measurements are height x width):

  • One Inner Tube: 7x8 cm (2.756x3.15 in)
  • One Outer Tube: 8.5x6 cm (3.346x2.36 in)
  • One Cap: 8.5x3 cm (3.346x1.18 in)
  • Two Circles: 2.75 cm (1.08 in) diameter
  • Drawstring: .25 cm (.098 in) in width, length of your choice

I highly recommend you make the width cuts a little bigger just to make sure that everything fits in the end. Once you have all your pieces check to see if they fit by wrapping the Inner Tube around the dowel and then the Outer Tube and the Cap on top. Make any adjustments now if you have to.

Once you have cut out the Outer Tube and Cap we need to make slits in them for our Drawstring. Measure halfway up the heights of the Outer Tube and Cap and mark .25 cm (.098 in) above and below. Now move towards the center 2.0625 cm (.812 in) and mark a line .75 cm (.295 in) to the left and a line .75 cm .75cm (.295 in) to the right. You should have four lines on both the Outer Tube and Cap; cut along these lines. If this was confusing you can look at the picture above but keep in mind that the photo is rotated so that the heights are horizontal and the widths vertical. Please ask me any questions you might have!

Step 3: Holes

We're going to start off with the Cap and one of the Circles. Take your ruler and line it up along one of the width edges. Take a needle and mark .25 cm (.098 in) from the end (about 2 mm (.08 in) away from the edge) and then .5 cm (.197 in) until you reach the end. This should make the last needle point .25cm (.098 in) from the end. Now line up the ruler with both height edges and mark every .5 cm (.197 in) starting with the first and last marks along the width. Now take the Circle A and place it along the marked width of the Cap. Slowly role Circle A along the edge and mark Circle A every time it lines up with one of the needle marks on the Cap. Don't worry if the holes don't exactly line up but make sure you have the same amount on the circle and the width of the Cap. Take your nail and hammer through these marks.

We are going to repeat this process with the the Outer Tube and Circle B. Start off marking the width and heights of the Outer Tube just as we did with the Cap. Because the Outer Tube and the Cap are the same width, this means that both Circles will have the same amount of holes. So to make our lives easier take Circle A, place it on top of Circle B, and mark it using the holes we already created. Using your nail and hammer, puncture the marks on the Cap and Outer Tube.

We only want the Outer Tube and Circle B to be stitched together so when we stitch the Outer Tube and the Inner Tube together we want the Inner Tube offset higher. Place your Inner Tube flush with the bottom of the Outer Tube and then raise it .25 cm (.098 in) (you should be able to see the marks along the width of the Outer Tube). Now keeping this offset tightly wrap the two pieces together around the dowel. The height edges of the two tubes should now be flush. Using a needle mark the Inner Tube through the holes of the Outer Tube. This will ensure that the holes will line up when we stitch the two pieces together. Now finish marking the height edges of the Inner Tube every .5 cm (.197 in) until you reach the last point which should be .25 cm (.098 in) from the end. If you notice in the picture above, I forgot to do this last step before taking the photo.

Step 4: Forming

Soak your Cap and Inner Tube in hot water for about 30 seconds and dry off access water. Tightly wrap the Inner Tube around the dowel and then wrap the Cap around the Inner Tube. You can secure this with the drawstring. Leave for about an hour. This will help the leather want to stay in shape but still be flexible as we stitch.

Step 5: Stitching

Before you begin stitching take your draw string and pull it through the Outer Tube and Cap.

Take 90 cm (35.5 in) of thread (we will use this to stitch the entire bottom portion) and attach one end to the first needle and the other end to the second needle. Pierce the thread on each end to lock it in place. Now begin on one end of the Outer Tube's width. Pass the needle through Circle B and begin double stitching around until you've gone around the entire circle and have finished where you started. When doing so the double stitch pattern should appear on the outside of the Outer Tube of Circle B. If done correctly both the the threads should going into the tube when you finish. For information on piercing the thread and double stitching check out this awesome source:

Now you can begin stitching the Inner and Outer Tube. Slide the Inner Tube inside the Outer Tube and align the holes. Now work your way up using an alternating cross stitch (I don't believe this is the right term, is someone knows it please correct me); one cross stitch visible on the outside, the next hidden inside the tube. Once you reach the top of the Outer Tube finish with a horizontal stitch. Now with both threads inside the Inner Tube we finish with more alternating cross stitches and one last horizontal stitch. Tightly knot off the thread and cut.

Using 75 cm (30 in) of thread we now do the exact same thing for the Cap. Double stitch around Circle A and use alternating cross stitches down the height edge. Again the double stitching around the perimeter of Circle A and the Cap should both appear on the outside. Finish with a knot and cut.

Step 6: Final Touch Ups

At this point you can sand down any rough edges and apply a burnish or polish. I personally prefer the raw look so I like to leave it as is. If you want the Inner Tube to hold its shape more, then you can submerge the part above the Outer Tube in hot water for 30 minutes (or until its fully saturated) and then slide it over the dowel and let it dry for a day or two.

I hope you guys enjoyed this Instructables and as always please leave any feedback in the comments! I know this one can be a bit confusing so don't hesitate to ask any questions. Please leave photos and videos below!

If you liked this project maybe you'll like my other leather Instructables:

Beetle Bag:

Pinwheel Coin Purse:

Passport Cover:

Hand Tools Only Contest 2017

Second Prize in the
Hand Tools Only Contest 2017

2 People Made This Project!


  • Water Contest

    Water Contest
  • Organic Cooking Challenge

    Organic Cooking Challenge
  • Fix It! Contest

    Fix It! Contest

27 Discussions

Just saw this and the video and it is perfect for what I need. I just got a supply of leather needles and need some way to store them. I also have tools to make this nice, but great idea using a nail in a pinch. I also have a piece of dyed veg tan leather that didn't work for a cell phone case but is perfect for this. I'm thinking of putting a piece of stiff foam or cork in the bottom to secure the needles.

Update - This was pretty easy. I used a piece of PVC pipe as a form. To punch holes I first marked a stitching line across the 3 tube pieces and punched holes with my diamond chisels. I beveled and burnished exposed edges. For the bottom and top pieces I used a medicine bottle as a guide. It was slightly bigger than the rolled up tube. I marked stitching lines on the end pieces and luckily the spacing with my stitching chisels was perfect - 20 holes on the tube and ends! After that I burnished exposed edges and stitched up the ends and sides. Finally I used a piece of Kangaroo lace for the drawstring and put a piece of cork in the bottom. Overall I am pleased with how this turned out. Thanks again for a great project!

1 reply

i setup to make trhe leash in a different manner, and chopped my fingertip off before i got there, so i have the tube and cap done! circles are hard to cut with a belt knife, so my ends aren't pretty, but its snugly fit together and tall enough for all kinds stuff to be added inside like thread and beeswax!! hada go to the ER for 6 stitches to retip my left index finger BECAUSE I WAS USING THE WRONG TOOL FOR THE JOB and USING A KNIFE FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN CUTTING because i was negligent to the rules of saftey. good news is it didn't hurt any more than smashing it real good would have, bad news is i chipped the tip of the bone off lol. thanks for the 'ible, i love my medieval leather needle case!!! i cannot figure how to get my iphone to upload pictures from chrome, so i can't post in the i made it section /: i used a 1/2' copper piper as a form and 2mm hobbylobby leather (the cap top/bottom from a boot i found on the side of the road)

1 reply

Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry to hear what happened but I'm glad nothing worse happened to you! If you do figure out how to upload the pictures, I honestly would like to see it! It always makes me happy seeing other people succeed at following my Instructables and it sounds like you've made quite the case haha. I hope your finger heals up quick and that you'll be back to making Instructables in no time!

There are some of us in the States that Don't Or Wont or Cant use Metric, please use Both! would have been a nice Project to do.

4 replies

Remember that Google is your friend! If you can't do the conversation yourself then you can't always look it up. I'm a Canadian and prefer to use imperial rather than metric. Should I whine about that or learn how to deal with the situation?

"would have been a nice Project to do."

And it still IS! It's very well described and a very useful project. Great for beginners too!

Most rulers have Metric and Imperial measurements. Just look at the other edge of the ruler and you will probably see them.

Wow. This are so so great. I am total inspired by you work and would love to make some of this.

1 reply

Thanks! Post pictures of your needle case, I love seeing other peoples' work!

Decent tutorial, but personally I think you needed more pictures to illustrate what you are explaining in the text

1 reply

Yeah, I think it could've used more photos as well. Thanks for the feed back :)

Thanks for the 'ible. I'm thinking this would be good for my double pointed knitting needles. Just need to make it a bit longer. And maybe emboss the size on it.

The pictures are also good.

This is really cool and it looks really professional looking

1 reply

Thank you! I've really been trying to up the quality of my Instructables :)

Nice instructable, I like little projects like this. Just FYI, this type of needle case is called an etui. See more information here:

1 reply

iv'e found that you can get an exact 1.9 cm pipe with just a stack of pennies, and glueing them together with super glue. just make sure you'll never use em again cause you cat take them apart

1 reply

+ try to use newer pennies, they don't have faded circumferences unlike older pennies