Donna enjoys using her arts background to create fun craft projects with a special focus on using repurposed or handy household materials.
How to Make a Pincushion
Pincushions are fun to use, make, and collect. These needle holders come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. They often feature beautiful details. This tutorial offers step-by-step directions to help you make a cupcake-style pincushion to use and enjoy.
The instructions below create a good-sized pincushion that is about 3.5 inches high and 3.5 inches wide along the top diameter. However, this pincushion can be sized up or down to accommodate your needs.
I decorated my sample pincushion with buttons and simple embroidery stitches. Feel free to embellish this pincushion in any number of ways!
- Fancy embroidery
- Trim materials
What You'll Need
- 8-inch square of felt material
- 12-inch square of cotton fabric. You could use a different fabric, but cotton is easy to sew and gather.
- 2 generous handfuls of fiberfill/cotton balls
- Embroidery floss, various colors
- Sewing needle and thread, various colors
- Buttons, beads, sequin, and/or trim of your choice (optional)
- Protractor (optional)
- Pen and ruler
How to Make the Bottom of the Pincushion
1. Take your felt material and place it flat on your work surface. If one side looks better than the other, place the nice side facedown.
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 7.25 inches in diameter.
3. With a ruler, find the center of your circle and mark it on your fabric.
4. Using a smaller template (I used a clean jam jar lid), 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 try to do it as close as possible.
- I found it helpful to use the jam jar lid 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. Use your ruler to draw a line that goes through the center of your two circles and divides them into two equal halves.
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6. If you have a protractor, line it up with your center line and divide each half of your circle into three equal parts by making a mark at 60° and 120° 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 three equal segments, or 6 segments around your full circle.
7. Draw lines through each of your markings to divide your outer circle into 6 equal segments. Leave the center circle unmarked.
8. Cut along these lines to divide your outer circle into 6 petals. Do not cut through your smaller inner circle.
9. Turn your fabric over and begin decorating your pincushion bottom. Only decorate every other petal of the bottom, and feel free to decorate them however you like.
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, I used embroidery floss to make 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 to 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 ricrac, 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 more snug, 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 is 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.
How to Make the Top of the Pincushion
1. Put the bottom cup of your pincushion to the side and place your cotton fabric face down on your work surface.
2. Using a pen or marker, draw a 10-inch circle on your cotton fabric. 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. Cut out the circle.
4. If you'd like, decorate the top of your pincushion with embroidery or trim. Keep in mind that only the center 3 inches or so will be displayed. 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 2.5 inches in diameter) in a coordinating fabric. You can make the edges uneven to look like melted frosting. Sew this small circle in the center of your big circle for the top of your pincushion. You can also add multi-colored small stitches of embroidery floss to look like sprinkles on 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, take a sewing needle and thread and make a running stitch about 0.5 inches 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. These stitches will not show in your finished pincushion.
6. Once your running stitch is complete, 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 fiberfill or cotton balls. You can occasionally fit your stuffed top into your felt bottom piece to see how full you want the pincushion to be.
8. Pull the ends of your running stitch tightly and tie them together with a couple of knots. You may want to put some additional stitches around the neck of your cushion to secure it.
9. (Optional) Taking your felt bottom, place a jar lid or a round piece of cardboard in the bottom of your cup to give it a weighted, more stable base.
10. 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 0.75 inches from the edge). Then, replace your stuffed ball inside your bottom piece for a secure fit.
12. Once your pincushion is dry, you can add a little more decoration with beads or sequins. Be sure to make your pincushion something you'll love and enjoy using!
© 2015 Donna Herron
Donna Herron (author) from USA on July 14, 2015:
Thanks, peachpurple! I appreciate your kind comments and support!
peachy from Home Sweet Home on July 14, 2015:
I love all your crafts, very unique, you can sell them at ebay
Donna Herron (author) from USA on June 09, 2015:
Wonderful, peachpurple! I hope you make a pincushion you love and use. Can't wait to hear how it turns out. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
peachy from Home Sweet Home on June 09, 2015:
i am going to try this
Donna Herron (author) from USA on May 18, 2015:
Hi Blackspaniel1 - So glad you like this pincushion project. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!
Blackspaniel1 on May 18, 2015:
This is a very nice one. And, if personally made, every one can be unique.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on May 11, 2015:
Hi mary615 - You're so lucky to have a treasured item from your mother. I hope my pincushion has a long and useful life too. Thanks so much for your comments and vote up :)
Donna Herron (author) from USA on May 11, 2015:
Thanks Glimmer Twin Fan! I just really love putting buttons on things :) So glad you like it. Thanks so much for your comments and share. I appreciate it!
Mary Hyatt from Florida on May 11, 2015:
I really enjoyed reading about how you created this lovely pincushion. I love projects like this. I have a pincushion my mother made many years ago and I treasure that.
Claudia Mitchell on May 11, 2015:
So pretty purlagony. You've been busy crafting! You're inspiring me to create more. This would be a lovely gift for someone.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on May 06, 2015:
Hi ChitrangadaSharan! Thank you! I must admit that I don't really sew that often, but I do love making and collecting pincushions :) So glad you like this project! And thanks so much for your comments, share, and vote up! I appreciate it!
Donna Herron (author) from USA on May 06, 2015:
Thanks, Poetryman! I meant the buttons to look like the center of flowers, but I like the idea of balloons too. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 06, 2015:
This is so cute!
I loved your color combination for this project. A very well explained hub with helpful instructions and pictures.
Thanks for sharing and voted up!
poetryman6969 on May 05, 2015:
Beautiful work as usual. Voted up. I like the button balloons. At least they look like a child's balloons too me.
Donna Herron (author) from USA on May 05, 2015:
Thanks, Sally! I appreciate your support so much. Thanks, as always, for your comments!
Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on May 05, 2015:
Hi Donna, another great tutorial with some lovely images. Thanks for sharing,