Every crafter needs a pincushion, or two, or three. Even more than that, crafters need a way to experiment. You can't grow or improve as a quilter without trying new techniques, patterns, and colorways. A small project, like a pincushion, can free you to experiment without the commitment and cost of a larger project. Smaller projects can also be a way to fit creating into our busy lives. Make a pincushion as an easy way to try that technique you've been wondering about, or to work with a new mix of colors. Jump in and play.
Besides feeding your creative self, pincushions make a wonderful gift. Making them for gifts also provides you with a very respectable reason to spend time sewing. "I'm sorry I can't do the laundry, I have to make a gift for the Secret Santa exchange!" Your spouse can't possibly complain about that.
You can make pincushions from just about anything, including scraps, but we're going to take a look at two books. Pin Pals by Carrie Nelson and Bowl Me Over by Debbie Busby each offer many creative options and fun projects. We enjoyed both books so much, we used them as the project for one of our recent staff meetings. Everyone got a pattern and a set of fabric, and we went to town sewing and chatting. Most weren't quite finished during the staff meeting (too much talking), but all are relatively short projects and each book has as range of project difficulty and techniques to choose from.
Pin Pals has 40 different patterns. These aren't your grandma's tomatoes, there is a little bit of everything in this book! Experiment with curves, applique, traditional blocks, strip piecing, triangles, precision piecing and hexies. We made the patterns: Solid Checkerboard, Random Strips, DNA, Ohio Star, Spokes, Beach Houses, Fresh-Cut Cube, and Bear Paw.
Bowl Me Over is a book of 37 "little pillows" and even more ideas. Projects are made from cotton and wool with embroidery stitches and wool applique. Fill a bowl with them, stack them on a shelf, or make them pincushions. If you've ever considered trying embroidery or applique this book is a wonderful way to get your feet wet. Debbie gives the reader thorough instructions for each project, but also offers general instructions and ideas to make your own variations. We made patterns: Welcome to Our Neck of the Woods, Be Strong, Nighttime Forest, and Little Cabin in the Woods.
Want more pincushion ideas? Check out our Pincushion Pinterest board.
Now that you've made a pincushion, or ten, you need to fill it. In theory this is pretty simple, but in practice can be frustrating.
First pick a filling. You can fill one with any number of things: rice, sand, sawdust or pellets. However, you will get the best results with a combination of poly-fil and crushed walnut shells. Use the poly-fill in corners, points and curves, then add the walnut shells for weight and firmness.
Add your poly-fil first and using a tool like the Purple Thang push the stuffing firmly into all corners, other shapes, or edges you want to keep crisp. Then use a narrow neck funnel to add the crushed walnut shells until your pincushion is full and firm. Be sure to pause and give your cushion a shake to settle the shells, then continue adding more shells. You can also use the end of your funnel to push the shells into the corners and help them settle so you can fully fill your pincushion. Here's a quick video of us filling a pincushion.
You can find all the supplies you need for this project at Stitchin Post.
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Stitchin' Post's The 12 Projects of Christmas is a newsletter event. Each week starting in October we've selected a fun and fast project, perfect for gifting or holiday decorating. Every project is designed and selected by our experts to make it easy for you to find and craft stylish useful items everyone will love.