DIY Craft Tutorial: How to Make a Pretty Embroidered and Decorated Pincushion
Pincushions are fun to use, make, and collect. These needle holders come in many shapes, sizes, and styles, and often feature beautiful decoration and details. This tutorial offers step-by-step directions on making a cupcake-style pincushion to use and enjoy.
The instruction below will create a good-sized pincushion that is about 3 1/2 inches high by 3 1/2 inches wide along the top diameter. However, this pincushion can be sized up or down to make a larger or smaller finished project.
I decorated my sample pincushion with buttons and simple embroidery stitches. But this pincushion can be embellished in a number of ways, with either more fancy embroidery, or with less stitching by using buttons, beads, and trim materials.
Materials for Making a Basic Pincushion
The amounts and materials below are based on making a pincushion like my sample. You can substitute some of these items for things you already have on hand, or adjust the sizes to make a larger of smaller pincushion.
- a 8 inch square of felt material for bottom part of pincushion (your choice of color).
- a 12 inch square of cotton fabric for top of pincushion (this can be a different type of fabric, but cotton works well and is easy to sew and gather).
- 2 generous handfuls of fiber fill or cotton balls for stuffing pincushion
- embroidery floss in a variety of colors
- a sewing needle and thread in various colors
- buttons, beads, sequin, and/or trim of your choice (optional depending on how you want to decorate your pincushion)
- a protractor (not essential, but handy if you have one)
- a pen and ruler
- a good pair of scissors
Directions for Making a Pretty Pincushion
To Begin Making the Bottom of Your Pincushion:
1. Take your felt material and place it flat on your work surface. If one side looks better than the other, put the nice side facing down.
2. Using a template, draw a circle on your felt that is about 7 inches in diameter. I traced a small plate that was actually 7 1/4 inches in diameter.
3. Now with a ruler, find the center of your circle and mark it on your fabric.
4. Using a smaller template (I used the clean top to a jam jar), make a small circle in the center of your larger circle. This smaller circle doesn't need to be in the exact center of your larger circle, but as close as possible.
I found it helpful to use the small top of a jam jar for my smaller template, because once my pincushion bottom was complete, I could put this clean lid in the bottom of my pincushion and use it as a base to add weight and stability to my finished piece.
5. Now use your ruler to draw a line that goes through the center of your two circles and divides them into two equal haves.
6. If you have a protractor, put it along your center line and divide each half of your circle into three equal parts by making a mark at 60 degrees and 120 degrees on the edge of the small circle.
If you don't have a protractor, you can just eyeball the markings to divide each half of your circle into 3 equal segments, or 6 segments around your full circle.
7. Draw lines through each of your marking to divide your outer circle into 6 equal segments. Leave your center smaller circle whole and unmarked.
8. Now using your scissors, cut along these lines to divide your outer circle into 6 petals. Do not cut through your smaller inner circle.
Decorating Your Pincushion:
9. Now you can turn your fabric over and begin decorating your pincushion bottom. Only decorate every other petal or segment of your pincushion bottom. You can decorate these segments however you choose.
I used buttons and simple embroidery stitches to embellish my pincushion. I sewed three small buttons on every other segment of my pincushion bottom. Then using embroidery floss, I made short small stitches around each button to create a flower motif. I finished off each of my small bouquets by adding some green stems and a little leaf on each flower arrangement. You could also add some pretty embroidery to the edges of each section of your circle.
If embroidery isn't your thing, you can decorate your pincushion by gluing on some buttons, beads, or sequins in an interesting design. Or add ric rac, lace, or other trim to embellish your pincushion.
10. To shape the bottom of your pincushion, take two of your decorated sections and overlap them halfway across the undecorated section in between the two. This will gather your segments together into a cup shape. Continue this overlap on each side of each undecorated petal to create the bottom cup of your pincushion.
11. To make your bottom a bit smaller and snugger, when your decorated sections are overlapped on top of an undecorated segment, take your two decorated corners and move one slightly on top of the other (see photo). Using a needle and thread, make a few small stitches to keep your segments in place.
12. Once your bottom piece in shaped and held in place, you can decorate your overlap sections with more buttons and embroidery.
I also added some stitching to the rim of my bottom piece to finish off the edge.
Making and Decorating the Top of Your Pincushion:
1. Put the bottom cup of your pincushion to the side and place your cotton fabric face dow on your work surface.
2. Using a pen or marker, draw a 10 inch circle on your fabric for the top of your pincushion. If you've changed the size of your pincushion proportions, draw your circle's diameter to be 3 times the diameter of the bottom cup of your pincushion plus 1 inch.
3. Now cut out the circle for the top of your pincushion.
4. If you'd like, you can decorate the top of your pincushion with embroidery or trim. Keep in mind, only the center 3 inches or so of this fabric will be displayed on your pincushion. I sewed a small crochet circle on the top of my pincushion to give it a sweet vintage look, and added a bright button to the center.
If you'd like your pincushion to look more like a cupcake, cut out a small circle (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter) in a coordinating fabric. You can make the edges uneven to look like melting frosting if you want. Sew this small circle in the center of your big circle for the top of your pincushion. You can add multi-colored small stitches of embroidery floss to look like sprinkles across the top of your cupcake. A round button or brooch in the center would be a nice finishing touch.
5. Once your top circle is decorated as you want, take a sewing needle and thread and make a running stitch about 1/2 an inch in from the edge of your large circle. I made my stitches in a bright color so you could see them in my photos, but you can use any color of thread you have. These stitches will not show in your finished pincushion.
6. Once your running stitch is complete around your circle, gently pull on the ends of your thread to gather your fabric into a pouch. Slide your fabric around so your gathers are as even as possible.
7. Once you have formed a little pocket from your fabric, stuff it with your fiber fill or cotton balls. You can occasionally fit your stuffed top into your felt bottom piece to see how full you want your pincushion to be.
8. When you cushion is as full as you want, pull the ends of your running stitch tight and tight them together with a couple of knots. You may want to put some additional stitches around neck of your cushion to secure it.
9. (Optional) Taking your felt cup bottom, place a jar lid or a round piece of cardboard in the bottom of your cup to give it a weighted and more stable base.
10. Now take your stuffed ball and fit it into your felt bottom. Arrange your stuffed top so it is even within your bottom piece and make sure any decoration you've put on your top is centered on your pincushion.
11. (Optional) You can remove your stuffed ball from your pincushion and place to line of hot glue or tacky glue around the inside lip of your bottom piece (about 3/4 of an inch from the edge). Then replace your stuffed ball inside your bottom piece for a secure fit.
12. Once your pincushion is dry, you may choose to add a little more decoration with beads or sequins. Be sure to make your pincushion something you'll love and enjoy using!
Copyright © 2015 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.