Sunday, October 2, 2011

Easy Flower Pincushion Tutorial

Welcome to the first Orange Kitty Tutorial! This is an easy pincushion I can whip up in about 40 minutes, which means you can probably do it in 30 or less because I'm a bit slow when it comes to the hand-sewing.

Materials you will need:
Some felt
Some fabric
Embroidery Thread
Small button for pincushion center
Small decorative insect button (optional)
Fiberfill for stuffing
Chopstick, stuffing fork, etc.

Top: A finished pincushion, a decorative dragonfly button, and a green button for the center that I got in last month's goodie swap! Bottom row: Purple felt, white and green cotton fabric, and a mess of embroidery thread--I'm sure yours is less tangled than mine. Not pictured are the fiberfill and chopstick, because I totally forgot I needed them until I got to that point in the tutorial. 

Step One: 
Cut your felt and fabric into same-size circles. You can make a huge pincushion or a really tiny one, whatever will work for you! My circles are about 5" in diameter, traced from a Pyrex lid, and my finished pincushion is roughly 3 1/2" in diameter, which I find is the perfect size for me.

I didn't show the uncut squares of felt or cotton fabric because I'm pretty sure you already know what they would look like. If you don't, then this tutorial is probably too advanced for you, and what are you doing on a sewing blog, anyway? 

Step Two:
Place your cotton fabric face down on the felt. Pin together, then sew about a 1/4" from the edge--backstitch at the beginning and the end! Make sure to leave a gap of about 2" so you can turn it inside out.

Pin the circles together...

...then sew! The thread hanging off the circles is where I began sewing, and the sewing machine needle's placement is where I stopped. This leaves a nice gap to turn it inside out in the next step.

Step 3:
Turn the pincushion inside out. I find a chopstick works well for this. Don't jam it too hard into the pincushion or you might rip right through the fabric (not like I'm, um, speaking from experience here or anything...). If you don't have a chopstick, you can use a dull pencil or small dowel, or take a break to go out for some Chinese food and grab an extra set of chopsticks while you're there.

I fully advocate taking a break ten minutes into a project to pick up some tasty Chicken Katsu or General Tso's Chicken. 

Once you've turned it, start cramming fiberfill into it! The more stuffing you stuff it with, the fluffier your flower will be, but the harder it'll be to sew the embroidery thread on in the next few steps. However, if you plan on using your pincushion for really long pins, you'll probably want to stuff the pincushion quite a bit, otherwise you may end up sticking a pin into the cushion and having it go straight through the bottom and jam into the table/cutting mat/hand/etc.

Stuff that sucker well! 

Step Four: 

Stitch closed the stuffing hole. I didn't take pictures of this because I'm still mastering it myself, but I used a ladder stitch tutorial from here. It's not hard, nor does it take long, my hand-stitching just still sucks!

Step Five:

Measure out your embroidery thread. I find that wrapping the thread loosely around the pincushion five times gives me just enough thread to sew and have a little left over to attach the button at the end. Use whatever color you want or have on hand.

Wrap the thread loosely around the pincushion to measure it out. Hey, Benta's autumn mug rug from last month's goodie swap is being put to good use! Too bad my coffee mugs didn't get the memo that it's only autumn, and nowhere close to snow weather yet...

Step Six:
Knot one end of your thread. Using an embroidery needle, find the approximate center of the felt side of your pincushion and draw the needle through to the front. If you have a super stuffed cushion and a really short needle, this may be tough, but you can make it work by squishing the cushion down as much as possible (or just getting a longer needle.)

Jam that needle into the center of the back of the cushion. It doesn't need to be exactly in the center because no one will notice. Also, apparently I got distracted halfway through making this tutorial because I'm not sure how we ended up finishing this pincushion at my desk instead of at the sewing table in the other room, where we started. Oh well! 

Make sure when the thread comes out the top, it's also approximately in the center, unless you really like the lopsided flower look. 

Step Seven:
Once you pull the thread through the top of your pincushion, wrap it back around and draw it through the center of the felt again, pulling as tightly as possible. You now have half a "line" going down the middle of your pincushion. Wrap the thread around through the back again and repeat for as many "petals" as you want on your cushion. I ended up with eight petals total, so I repeated this step seven more times after the first.

Wrap the thread around and stick the needle up through the center back again, so you have something that looks like this.  

Pull tight, so the thread sort of "cuts" into the side of the pincushion. The tighter you pull, the more pronounced and fluffy the petals will be at the end. Now you are going to wrap that thread around and bring the needle up through the center back again. 

...Like this. Then keep going to make more "petals" for the flower, pulling the thread tight each time. Here I've wrapped the thread around three times and made two petals.  

Step Eight:
To add your decorative insect button, just thread the embroidery thread through the insect button's hole at any point you'd like and pull tightly.

No need to tack it down or anything--as long as you're using all six strands of embroidery thread and you are pulling tightly, the button will stay in place! 

Step Nine:
Once you have your petals completed and your insect button attached, it's time to add the center button! Thread the needle through the button and center the button in the middle of the pincushion, pulling tightly, as always. Sew a couple of stitches through the button to attach it, then knot your thread and trim the excess. You're done!

Ready for the center button! I think it's easiest to use a button with only two holes in it to attach--if you use a button with four holes, you will need to cut your embroidery thread a bit longer at the beginning. 

Just slide the button along the embroidery thread....

...And make a couple of stitches through the button's holes to tack it down.  Knot the thread on the felt side of the pincushion and cut off the excess. You're done! 

All done and ready for pins! 

I hope you enjoyed the very first Orange Kitty Tutorial! If anything is unclear, please let me know--Step Seven is really hard to explain in words, but hopefully my pictures help. If you make one, feel free to share in the comments, I'd love to see other variations or improvements you think up!


  1. I like it! :) Looks like something that I could try!

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I can't wait to make one of these. I had to really restrain myself from buying a boat load of cute buttons. Now I have a perfect excuse :)

  3. Really cute! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. That was a great tutorial, really easy to follow and I will be bookmarking it for later :)

  5. I got one of these in the swap, thanks for the instructions. Lovely to see the mug rug in use :-)

  6. Thank you for the tutorial!!! I don't have a pin cushion but maybe I need to change that ;-) Maybe it's one of those things where I will ask myself "how could I live without one?"

  7. Thank you for the tutorial. It is so cute! :)I will have to try to make one for myself.