Friday, 8 May 2015

Pincushion tutorial

Enough looking at pretty pictures and dreaming about all the quilts I want to,but will probably never, make.  Time for some actual sewing!

Here is a little pincushion which is small enough to be cute, but deep enough that your pins do not poke out the bottom and prick you when you pick it up.  It measures 2 3/4" square and 1 1/2" deep, and is made from eight 2 1/2" squares: ideal for using mini charm squares or leftovers from other projects.

Just a word of disclaimer: this is not my pattern, it was passed on to me informally many years ago as is so often the way in our sewing communities.  I have no idea if anyone has copyrighted it, it has been around a long time and I thought it was worth revisiting and sharing.  If I can give credit I will, just let me know if you know its origins.

So here goes:

Make two four patch blocks from your eight 2 1/2" squares.

After pressing, cut out a 3/4" square from each of the corners of both blocks.  I think it is safest to mark the cutting line with pencil and then use scissors rather than trying to rotary cut out such a small piece.

Fold the block right sides together and pin the corners: you will be stitching short seams on the edges you have just cut.  Good idea to backstitch at each end.

Turn one of the blocks right side out and place this inside the other block, matching corners and seams.

This is important as it gives the pincushion a smart and professional finish if you get the intersections neat.  I like to make my seam allowances go in opposite directions so they nest.

Pin and stitch all the way round but remember to leave an opening for turning in the middle of one side (not too near the corners though).  Backstitch at each end of this seam as you don't want your stitching to come undone when you turn the piece inside out.

Turn right side out and stuff.  I filled my pincushion with crushed walnut shells because I like the firm crunchiness when I stick in a pin (!) but you can use polyester toy stuffing if you'd rather. Slipstitch or ladder stitch the opening closed.

Thread a long needle with a strong thread, double it and knot the end.  Sew a small button to the top and bottom in the centre of the pincushion, pulling on the thread so the buttons dimple in the middle.  To finish off bring the needle out close beside one of the buttons and wrap the thread around the button before taking the needle through to the other side of the pincushion and cutting off the thread.

Or if you have used a decorative thread like a perle you might want to leave a long tail on the top of the pincushion when you go through the first button, and then bring the end thread back up after you have been back and forth a few times.  You can then tie the two ends in a reef (square?) knot and make it a decorative statement.

The larger version (which was a gift to me a long time ago) is really chunky and great for long pins. It measures 6" square and is 2 1/2" deep.   Make it with eight 4 1/4" squares or you can use a single fabric (in which case cut two 8" squares, one for the top and one for the bottom of the pincushion). The size of the corner cutout is a 1 1/2" square.  Otherwise the instructions are exactly the same.  The other variation on the big one is that it is wrapped with coton a broder like a parcel.  Tie off the ends under one of the bottons if you want to do this.

I hope you have fun making a few of these pincushions - they make great gifts and look really sweet.  I am off to make a few more.  I am linking to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday - I love small quick projects for that finishing buzz!


  1. So cute. Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. OMW!!!! I am so addicted to pincushions, and I haven't seen this one. I'm definitely pinning, and will have a tough time deciding on fabrics. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  3. Great tutorial! Thank you very much!
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo dot com

  4. You make it look so easy. We all need that finishing buzz now and then.

  5. Love the pincushions, thanks for the tutorial. I've made biscornu ones before, but this is nice and easy, a good charity sew.

  6. Thank you! I've cut out the 4.5 inch squares and can't wait to sew them up.