Tutorial: Quick-pieced Pincushion

Quick-pieced pincushion - tutorial

So I’ve spent today listening to a suddenly surprisingly exciting bit of Test Match cricket), and writing up this tutorial, whilst my boys have run wild doing excellent impressions of Pepe Le Pew and Diddy Kong, and poor old Sandy has been trying to earn us some money… What else are rainy bank holiday Mondays for?

I really hope you enjoy the pattern – and as ever, I would really be pleased to see photos of pincushions you make using it (here’s the Very Berry Makes Flickr group). Also, as ever, I am very happy for you to use the pattern to make things to sell, although I would appreciate a credit, and preferably drop me an email to let me know.


  • 3 coordinating fabrics measuring 8 1/2″ x 1″ for the pincushion top
  • 1 piece of fabric measuring 3 1/2″x3 1/2″ for pincushion back
  • 2 pieces of medium iron-on interfacing measuring 3 1/2″x3 1/2″
  • coordinating thread
  • your chosen stuffing
  • 2 buttons and strong thread (optional)

Before you start:

Seam allowances are 1/4″ at all times.

A word of warning! Don’t choose fabrics for the 2 outer strips which are too close in colour or tone. The way the pattern works means that you run the risk of an unfortunate symbol on the top of your pincushion (think Prince Harry in fancy dress…).  My advice is to use a nice bright strip to create a nice bright central motif, in the way that I’ve used yellow in both my versions.

So, here we go:

Take your 3 coordinating 81/2″ x 1″ strips:

pic 1

Sew them together along the longest edges. Press, folding the seam allowances to one side, like this:

pic 2

Take the fabric strip that you have created and cut it into four 2″ pieces, then rotate a couple of pieces through 90 degrees and lay them out like this to create your design:

pic 3

See the blue box? That’s where you’re going to make your next seam. Sew these 2 squares, right sides together.  Press the seam to one side like this:

pic 4

Repeat this process for the other 2 squares:

pic 5

Make sure that you press the seam in the opposite direction on the reverse, like this:

pic 4.1

You should now have 2 halves that look like this:

pic 6
Sew these 2 together where indicated by the big blue box, making sure that you match the centre seams together as accurately as you can. The best way to do this is to put a pin through the centre seam on both pieces of fabric, like this (the dotted blue line indicates where you are going to be sewing):

pic 7

If you have done your pressing correctly, the seam allowances will be pressed in opposite directions so things wont get too bulky to sew. If the seam allowances have ended up folded in the same direction then just re-press the seam on one side.

Trim your completed block to a 3.5″ square , making sure that you have the centre point in your pincushion in the centre of the trimmed square. You don’t want to make things all wobbly at this late stage! You should have something that looks like this:

pic 8

Now you need your interfacing and pincushion backing fabric:

pic 9

Iron one piece of interfacing on to the wrong side of the completed pincushion top and the other piece onto the wrong side of the backing fabric.

Put the pincushion top & your backing fabric right sides together and pin together.  Sew together round the edge, keeping an accurate eye on your 1/4″ seam allowance. If you aren’t feeling very confident about this, you could always draw the square on your fabric to guide you.

pic 10

There’s that blue box again… You need to leave a turning gap of around 1″ and make sure you do some reverse stitches at the start and finish to make it secure – you don’t want your stitching to unravel when you are turning your pincushion through.

Trim the corners across like this:

pic 11

Now you are ready to see the result of all that hard work! Turn through – you should have something that looks like this:

pic 12

Give it a press to iron out the seams, and to turn the edges of the turning gap a bit. Stuff firmly with your chosen stuffing. Bear in mind you always need more stuffing than you think – don’t be skimpy! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to undo stitching and put some more stuffing in…

Now you need to sew up the turning gap. Fold the raw edges into the pincushion to create a consistent seam with the rest of the cushion, then sew the edges together using a ladder/hidden stitch:
pic 13

The trick with this is to keep the stitches small & even, be patient, and try and keep the sewn edge in line with the existing seam.  I find it helps to keep a close eye on the weave of the fabric – keep your stitches parallel with it and you can’t go wrong. Here’s a You Tube video to help you out if you aren’t familiar with this stitch (although I’d suggest making your stitches much smaller than the ones in the video).

You should end up with something that looks like this:

pic 14

Now you can leave it like there if you like, or you can go for the full effect and titivate your pincushion with a couple of buttons.

Thread a long, sharp, sturdy needle with a double piece of strong thread (I use a linen thread) & tie the ends together in a knot. Take the needle down through the centre of the pincushion, from the top, to the bottom. Do NOT pull the thread tight – leave a tail of about 2 inches of thread like this:

pic 15

Make a small stitch in the back of the pincushion like this (don’t pull the thread tight at this stage – you need to keep that tail on the top of the pincushion):

pic 16

Now take the needle back through to the top of the pincushion, threading the needle through the loop created by the tail:

pic 17

Now you can pull the thread tight so that the knot cinches up against the top of the pincushion, and you create that lovely indented shape:

pic 18

Now thread on the top button, taking your needle through to the bottom of the pincushion, where you thread the other button on to the pincushion back.  Take the needle back up through the cushion & through the top button, then back through to the button on the underside, & back through to the top again, pulling gently, but very firmly, every time.

This is tricky, but be patient, keep wiggling your needle, and you will get there… I confess to resorting to pliers now and then when I want to get the needle through! Finally, take your needle through to the underside once more, but instead of going through the button, direct it so it comes out past the side of the button, like this:

pic 19

Again, this is tricky – but persevere, you’ll get there…

Now, wrap the thread around & underneath the button, leaving a loop like this:

pic 20

Take your needle through the loop and pull it tight, to create a knot. Repeat this process to secure the button, then cut your thread as close to the button as you can, and you are all done.

Hope Valley Pincushion

I hope you are pleased with your cute little pincushion. Can you bear to stab it with pins?!

Click here for lots more FREE sewing tutorials from Very Berry.

51 thoughts on “Tutorial: Quick-pieced Pincushion

  1. Here it’s two years after you posted this tutorial and I have just discovered it! I made one and love it! So am making a few as gifts. Thanks.

  2. I like your pattern and your tutorial. Very easy to follow. Also want to pass on that , if available, ground up walnut shells used in the pin cushions will keep your pins sharpened and remove build up from the quilt batting and fabrics. Have a great day. Thank you for sharing your patterns

  3. Great little project. I made one this size and then made a larger one. I used 1&1/2 inch strips that were 10 inches long and cut into 4 equal sections, then I used another set of 1&1/2 inch strips to fill out the square once I laid it into the pattern shown…had I cut 12 inch strips I could probably have just worked with 4 squares…oh hind sight.
    I used just regular cotton quilt batting instead of the fusible material – worked fine – used up some of the left overs I had – nice!
    I used a 3/8 inch seam on the outside to make the hand sewing of the opening a bit easier.
    The finished project was 6 inches square.
    Now my daughter and I each have one!

  4. Thanks Ali, have actually managed to make one (though I had to unpick various bits due to poor concentration – demanding toddler!) and I’m really pleases with it (though wonder if mine is a bit small). Really easy to follow instructions but I’m never sure whether I have to include a seam allowance or if that is already included in the pattern’s measurements – that’s probably me being a bit thick though.

    1. Well done Jaqui! Seen your pic, it looks fab. The seam allowance is included in the measurements I’ve given, and your final cushion should be around 3″ by 3″. Toddlers are death to sensible sewing!

  5. Thank you very very much for sharing this design! You are very talented. In your short bio I have mentioned that you are home-schooler maybe that is the reason why your tutorial is so incredible ;). It is rare to find a tutorial that is so easy to follow. You must bring us a lot more ;). You have very nice fabrics on your hand, sometimes for me this is a great hurdle to find really good fabrics to combine. Once again thank you and keep sewing girl! 🙂

  6. Thanks for this great tutorial Ali, I made one tonight and really pleased with it. Next time I need to pay more attention though and add extra stuffing as you suggested but I can’t face unpicking it 🙂

  7. Great tutorial. I have a bunch of triple rail blocks from an old project… I think I might be able to use them for pincushions similar to how you made yours. Thanks =)

  8. I’ve just made this pincushion – my very first sewing project! Deffo need some practice but your tutorial was ace – thank you so much for sharing!!!

    1. Oh, I’m glad you found the tutorial to be ok, especially as a beginner that’s a real compliment. Over the last 3-4 years that I have been sewing I have really noticed how I’ve improved in techniques and knowledge, so definitely keep practising!

  9. Very cute…. I will have a go making one…. I love the pattern on top and also love the fact how easy it was made. (looking at the pincushion first i thought i will have to cut out lots of little pieces of fabrics…. :))
    Thank you for sharing.

  10. Couldn’t resist, I had to make one of your lovely little pincushions at the weekend! A brilliant tutorial – thank you so much for sharing. :o)

  11. I’ve just made 2!! Thank you again – there are very few things that I see and need to make ‘NOW”! They are for a secret Pay It Forward and a surprise gift- but they will be on my blog and flickr soon x

  12. Ooooo, lovely. I’d really like to make one for The Honker for Christmas – and at this stage of the year there’s a chance it might get finished!

    Sure that TMS won’t be so exiting when I make mine, though. I wonder if one can Listen Again?


  13. thanks for posting this=it was one of my favorite sms giveaways!
    i’ll definitely be making these=hooray. beautiful.

  14. I love designs that with the right fabric design/colour make it look so complex and confusing to the eye. Thanks to your tutorial, maybe even I could make your pincushion! Thank you for sharing!

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