Matryoshka Needlecase Tutorial

We've just arrived home from a brief holiday and I'd taken my laptop along so that I could set live this blog post which I'd pre-written last week...but like the best sort of holidays, I forgot to turn my laptop on. For those awaiting the next installment of my husband's guide to how to make your own pizza oven, it's coming, but it's taking a long time as there are diagrams and all sorts to detailed instructions...and he too ended up having a computer-free holiday and so will catch up on that next week. But please find below, what should have appeared earlier in the week.

In 2009 I created this little tutorial for a matryoshka needlecase for the Christmas edition of UK Handmade magazine - since then it's seemed to move around and I've often received emails asking why my link to it is always broken, so I've finally decided to put the pattern into a blog post here. I seem to remember that I created this pattern in something of a hurry and long before I learnt how to draw pattern pieces on a computer, so I hope you'll forgive the somewhat lo-fi pattern production. You can download my very badly drawn and scanned pattern pieces as a PDF file here. Despite their shabby appearance, they are fit for the purpose of drawing around - just remember to print out at 100%.


This sweet Christmassy needle case book is perfect for some well-deserved self-gifting as you stitch your way through December, or as a stocking filler for someone who loves to sew. It’s easy to make and can be sewn while curled up by the fire, entirely by hand, using blanket stitch and embroidery stitches, or, if you’re in a needle-case hurry, on your sewing machine.


Embroidery Floss
Wool – 20cm
Blue felt - 30cm x 17cm
Pretty fabric – 11cm x 9cm
Iron-on interfacing – 11cm x 9cm
Plain pink fabric – 5cm x 5cm
Co-ordinating ribbon – 4cm
Fabric pen (optional)
Marker pen with disappearing ink

First cut out your pattern pieces.

2 x Piece A from felt (these will be used for the inner and outer main body pieces).
2 x Piece B from felt (this is what will be used to hold your needles, so the thicker the better with the felt).
1 x Piece C from pretty fabric with iron-on interfacing (this will make the matryoshka’s shawl).
1 x Piece D from plain pink fabric (this will be your matryoshka’s face).

Cut out the hole for the face to peep through in piece C by folding in half and then cutting around the semi circle.

If you’re going to create your doll’s face with a fabric marker do this now, if you’d prefer to embroider the features on, you might find it easier after the next step.

On the right-hand side of one of the body pieces, pin on the face (piece D) and the shawl (piece C) above it. You can then sew these on using a blanket stitch, or on the sewing machine using a small zigzag stitch. Remember to sew around the face aperture too. Next, fold the ribbon in half, and then splay out the bottom edges. Sew in place at a suitable point on her shawl, leaving the ends free. If you've chosen to embroider the facial features do this now using french knots for eyes and a small running stitch for the mouth.

Finally, with a disappearing-ink marker pen draw an apron and a decorative design onto the body of the matryoshka. Embroider these by hand using 2 strands of coloured floss.

Set this to one side.

Take the other matryoshka body shapes (A) that you cut out earlier. Lay pieces B on in the appropriate places (see photo). These can be stitched into place by hand using a blanket stitch or using a zigzag stitch on the machine.

Now take the piece with the doll’s face and place this on top of the other body piece, wrong side to wrong side. Double check that you can see facing outwards the doll’s face on one side and the needle holder pads on the other side.

Now, pin carefully all the way around the outside edge, tucking in the end of a strand of wool about half way down her body on each outer edge (this isn’t shown in the photo due to my forgetting to do this step until afterwards!).

Now sew the body pieces together by hand using a blanket stitch or on the machine using a zigzag stitch. Fold in half to create a ‘book’.

Trim any messy edges with scissors to give her a crisp, clean silhouette, trim the wool ties to a suitable length and admire your handiwork. She's now ready to hold the needles.

As I said at the start of this post: you can download my very badly drawn and scanned pattern pieces as a PDF file below. Despite their shabby appearance, they are fit for the purpose of drawing around - just remember to print out at 100%.

This is a free-of-charge pattern for personal use. If, however, you are an independent business/Etsy/Folksy seller, I am happy for you to sell items made using this pattern for a small donation of £3, when you download the template - this buys the right to sell items made using this pattern.

I'd love to see any needlecases that you might make if you have the time to send a photo or link, or want to drop it into my Flickr pool.

Florence x


  1. I love this, the colours you've used are gorgeous!

  2. i cant wait to try this, thanks for the great tutorial xxx

  3. Wow! You have done amazing matryoshka. It's so cool. My heartfelt congratulations!

  4. Oh I love this little Russian doll! I've bought a license but don't know that I'll be able to let anyone take them away...... I'll want to keep them ALL (if I do make more than one that is!)

  5. How sweet!

    I've just been catching up on your last few posts. My husband has been becoming less happy with his job and we'd both like to move to England. He doesn't know what job he'd want to do there, though, so right now that just seems too big a leap to take. I'm full of admiration for your leap and am so glad that you've been recieving so much support that it all looks so hopeful. I'll have to pocket some of your quotes

  6. *receiving, even - I can't seem to type today

  7. Thank you so much for your comments - so pleased you like her!

    UK Lass - that's hard - I hope he discovers what it is that he'd love. x

  8. Oooh! It's so cute, Thank you for the tutorial, you've got me rethinking my christmas making now!!

  9. This is a lovely tutorial! Love Matryoshka dolls! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  10. Another beautiful tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. Oh how precious! Just had to stop and say thank you. Our daughter was in Ukraine for a month while helping her brothers family pick up their adopted son. She brought some of these little nesting dolls home for gifts. For CHRISTmas I will be making these sweeties for gifts for the granddaughters to put in their hope chests. Thank you again for your kindness.

    Blessings, Linda
    You do very nice work. You may come over to my blog for some freebies if you like!

  12. This is so adorable. A perfect gift for the holidays. I'll be linking to it on Wee Folk Art's Facebook page. Thanks :)

  13. Ohmygod love this! So sweet!
    Nice blog, keep posting dear!

  14. Just love it,am going to make some this weekend. :)

  15. This is beautiful, looks like i will be buying some felt this weekend :D


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Florence x