The Classic Pincushion

The "Classic" Pincushion is one of my favorites.

The design is simply "classic".
They are so easy to embellish it and make the design yours.
You can create as many sections as you need.
They never tip over and are small enough to add to your travel bag.
You can use just about any fabric.
Because they take so little fabric, you can make use of your larger scraps.
They make ideal gifts!
Here are a few variations of the Classic...

Here are the materials you will need...

You will need a scissors, a compass or some type of circle template such as a cereal bowl or small plate.
You will need paper to create a pattern, sewing thread and a thick, strong thread for creating the sections. I use embroidery perle cotton size 5.
You will need a sharps needle and a needle with an eye big enough to accommodate your thicker thread. You will also need some fiberfill to stuff your cushion. You can also use emery to make a heavy cushion that sharpens your pins and needles. Last but not least, 2 buttons and fabric to create your pincushion. Some great choices are linen, wool, (I used recycled wool from blazers), felted wool, velvet, (to make a gift cushion) or any heavy cotton, such as cotton canvas or cotton duck. You can make the top and bottom coordinating or use one fabric for the top and bottom. Your choice.

Begin by creating your pattern. Your finished cushion will be about 30% smaller than your pattern. My pattern is 5 5/8 inches across and my finished pincushion is 3 1/2 inches across.
Lay your fabrics out, pin on the pattern and cut.

Before you put things together, I recommend that you stay stitch around the edges of your fabrics. I do this with all my pincushions to give them stability and to keep the edges from fraying. The stay stitches make great guides when you close up the opening later. Sew as close to the edges as you can.

Pin the front to the back, right sides together. You will need to leave about 2 inches open so you can turn the cushion right sides out. I like to mark the opening with 2 pins so I don't get carried away and sew it closed.

Trim your seam allowances up to the stay stitching.

Turn your piece right sides out. Finger press the seams open. Then stuff.
Use a lot of small bits to stuff your cushion. Push the stuffing up against the inner seams. You want the stuffing to be very full but not too firm.

Sew the opening closed. To create a smooth seam use a classic whip stitch. Pick up just a few threads of fabric from each side and gently pull the seam closed. Repeat until your opening is closed. Create a small, inconspicuous knot and hide the end of your thread inside the pincushion.

TIP: If you find your hand sewed edges to be flat or uneven, try basting each edge over before stitching closed. I used a black, contrasting thread for this tutorial. First fold the edge over about 1/4". Be sure to follow the stay stitched line. This will give you a nice, rounded seam. It only takes a few minutes and you will find the time well spent when you see how perfect your seams come out. It only took me 30 years to figure out this simple fix.

Now its time to create the sections.
First, cut a long length of perle cotton. I like to audition the correct length of thread. Wrap the thread around your cushion 4-8 times (each full wrap is determined by how many sections you will be making). Add another 7 inches for sewing on the buttons and knotting. Once you have the right length, double it and cut. This gives you the perfect amount of thread every time.
Thread your cotton onto a large eye needle. Long, millinery needles work really well. You want your thread to be doubled. Knot the ends together.

Find the exact center of your pincushion on each side and mark with a pencil or pen.
If you are off center, your finished pincushion will have uneven sized sections, so take your time.
I like to use the compass or fold your pattern in half 2 times. The intersecting fold lines will give you a half-way point to use as a guide.

Sew a few stitches with your thread to create a firm anchor.

Create each section by bringing the thread up from the middle, around the outer edge and then inserting the needle back into the center. Give the thread a firm tug to create the pillow effect. It may be difficult to work the needle through the center. I use a small pliers to grab onto the needle. That sure saves me from an aching wrist later.

Repeat for each section. I created 6 sections for this pincushion. I have used 4 sections on the peach sherbert cashmere version and 8 sections for the linen pincushion with leather buttons.

Once you have your sections complete, tie off your thread. To keep the knots hidden, simply wrap your thread around one of the section threads once, then pull the wrap towards the center of the pincushion. Then poke the needle down through the center and back up again. Repeat. This will give your threads a nice tight hold so your sections will not come apart later. Don't cut the extra off just yet. You'll need the extra thread to sew your buttons on.

Now its time to decorate your pincushion with coordinating buttons. This a wonderful way to show off your vintage button collection. Actually, my button collection is nearly as ridiculous as my fabric stash! Yet, when designing a new pincushion, I can't resist a trip to the fabric or antique shop to find a new gem. Life is just too short to deny yourself a new button now and again.
I usually audition a few choices before deciding on the perfect button for each cushion.

Attaching the buttons onto your pincushion is a bit awkward. Just run the thread through the top button shank or holes and bring the thread to the back. Run your needle through the back button and bring the thread to the front. Repeat if you have enough thread or until all your button holes are filled.
Tie off your thread using the same method you used to tie off the sections.

Your pincushion is complete!
Now think of how you can create a "Classic" that speaks to your muse!
Make a few. You'll find them to be the perfect pincushion for all your projects!


sew.darn.quilt said...

This is fabulous, I really like the blue wool/leaves pincushion! It's very pretty.
Thank you for the tutorials you have been so generous to share. =D

EgayZra said...

Thank you for sharing, this is great!

traderslostart said...

You are very good at making the complicated simple! Great job!

Becky Hayes said...

2 Suggestions:

1. I had to Google to find out what "emery" is - you might want to let folks know. I finally found a picture of some for sale at Amazon. I had never heard of it!

2. You mentioned being careful about locating the center to bring the thread through. Wouldn't it be simpler to make a small mark in the center on each side (when you are drawing the circle) before you cut and fill it?

Thanks for the tutorial - I was wondering how this was done!

Kelly said...

lovely tutorial!

muskaan said...

Great tutorial & Superb pincushions !!! Thank you so very much for sharing in such detail.
I used your instructions to quickly make my very first pincushion. I've blogged about it in my latest post. It is not as neat as the ones you have here, but probably not too bad for a first attempt ;-)
Thank you once again.

krystyna said...

Thank you...that was so well explained and illustrated.

Yuyun said...

thanks for sharing the steps

Unknown said...

I love the simplicity of you have explained. I can't wait to make some

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Marina said...

Soooooo cute!!! This is the moment to prepare several of them and give them away after confinement . . . a way to celebrate life!!! Thanks so much!! Your pincushions are beautiful!!

Marina said...

Soooooo cute!!! This is the moment to prepare several of them and give them away after confinement . . . a way to celebrate life!!! Thanks so much!! Your pincushions are beautiful!!

Jo Raines said...

Thank you! On your crazy quilt pears, do you embroider after sewing together?

CC said...

I really wanted to thank you for this pattern. I've been taking care of a very sick husband and I needed something simple to get my mind off it. Your pincushion are beautiful. So glad I found you on pinterest! Thanks again

Juliet said...

Thank you so much for the tutorial. Very detailed and inspiring

Pam Miller said...

This is a great tutorial! Thank-you for the step by step directions. I love pincushions and the handmade ones are so much prettier than the store bought ones.

Ashlee Rolfson said...

First off, I want to say how much I enjoyed reading this blog post about the Classic Pincushion. It's always fascinating to see how talented individuals like the author create such beautiful and practical crafts. Kudos to you!
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Barbara Nimmo said...

I hope this clears up any confusion for those wondering about Can You Use a Walmart Gift Card for Gas. Once again, big thanks to the blog author for sharing this wonderful pincushion tutorial, and to everyone in the community for their creativity and helpfulness!

Happy crafting and smart shopping!