Toy chest etui by Betsy Morgan: 3 – button box and ‘magic’ needle case

This little button box (measuring just an inch and a half square ) is part of the Toy chest etui by Betsy Morgan of Willing Hands. I made it in 2012, as part of the etui set – a toy box, filled with sewing accessories shaped like toys. The motifs on each side all begin with the letter B: button, bird, bee, erm…….rabbit (or bunny, I suppose!).


Each side has a double border of cross stitches in different colours.


The inside is lined in silk. I filled it with antique Victorian buttons (something else that I collect!).


Then there’s THIS. This is a very special needle case. It has a design on the front and back of acorns and cornflowers. This is the front:


This is the reverse side.


But the special bit is inside. There is a loose piece of felt, which the needles are attached to. In the picture below, they are on the left side, with the holding ribbons straight across the felt. If you close it, and then open it from the other side…..


….the needles have magically moved to the right hand side, and the ribbons are now crossed over them! This fascinates me. I know there’s a simple explanation as to why this works. But I assembled the thing, and I’m still not sure how it does it!!!


These designs are by Betsy Morgan of Willing Hands, and form part of the Toy chest etui set.  She doesn’t sell these items as kits, but you buy the whole project pack as part of the workshops which she offers, which last from a couple of days to a week, depending on the item being made (of course, you don’t *finish* the item in a few days, but Betsy shows you all the steps you’ll need to do, and you get the chance to practice, and ask questions, and get started at least!). Betsy is from the USA, but has been over to England a couple of times. If you get the chance, go and have a look at her other items, and list of course dates on her blog. In October 2016 she will be offering classes as part of the Beating Around the Bush stitching event in Adelaide, Australia, organised by Inspirations magazine.


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11 thoughts on “Toy chest etui by Betsy Morgan: 3 – button box and ‘magic’ needle case”

  1. Janet, I’m putting this very set together right now. Your work is stunning. I’m struggling with matching plaid and feeling as though I do not have enough fabric!

  2. Hi, Janet – it’s called a “Jacob’s Ladder” and it works by the ribbons sliding through and around the base – I can’t explain it either, it takes an engineer’s mind to even visualize, but here is the 1889 ‘Scientific American’ magazine’s explanation: (which to my mind adds NO clarity, but is a good example of 19th-century expository writing!)
    and here is an ad with a good picture:
    Betsy Morgan is a genius; this is now on my list of Must Do.

  3. My parents used to buy us wooden toys that connected 5 or 6 blocks with ribbons like that and when you turned them, a block would appear to fall down to the end. I never really understood it either, but they were fun.

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