I wrote this log cabin pincushion tutorial for issue 16 of Fat Quarterly… but as issue 17 is now out, and January is long gone, I thought I would put this on my blog for you all to share.
I first came up with this pincushion design back in the summer of 2012, for a swap run by the scarily-talented Rachel of House of Pinheiro. I enjoyed working with my small (at that time!) collection of Liberty fabrics so much, that I mark this as the beginning of my obsession with Liberty lawn.
The finished pincushion is pretty small (about 3 1/4″ square), but the good news is, in spite of its small scale, it’s simple to make because it’s just four tiny log cabin blocks stitched together – and because it’s foundation pieced, getting an accurate finish is easy.
What you will need
Fabric or paper for foundation piecing
Scraps in two contrasting colours – 5 different prints in colour A and 4 different prints in colour B.
Fabric, 3 3/4” x 3 3/4” for pincushion back
Medium iron-on interfacing, 3 3/4” x 3 3/4” (plus extra piece if not using fabric for foundation piecing)
2 buttons and cotton thread
Liberty Tana lawn scraps in blues and pinks
Yarn dyed Essex linen in flax from Robert Kaufman
Things to remember
Read the pattern in full before starting
Seam allowances are 1/4” unless stated otherwise
Shorten your stitch to 1.5 if you use paper for the foundation piecing
Always press your fabrics before starting and seams as you go
Step 1 – Cutting Fabrics
From fabric 1, colour A:
4 squares, 7/8” x 7/8”
From fabric 2, colour A:
4 rectangles, 7/8” x 7/8”
From fabric 3, colour A:
4 rectangles, 7/8” x 1 1/4”
From fabric 4, colour B:
4 rectangles, 3/4” x 1 1/4”
From fabric 5, colour B:
4 rectangles, 3/4” x 1 1/2”
From fabric 6, colour A:
4 rectangles, 7/8” x 1 1/2”
From fabric 7, colour A:
4 rectangles, 7/8” x 1 3/4”
From fabric 8, colour B:
4 rectangles, 3/4” x 1 7/8”
From fabric 9, colour B:
4 rectangles, 3/4” x 2 1/8”
Tip! Your fabric measurements can be approximate, as long as the scraps are the minimum listed sizes, as you can trim any excess after stitching.
Step 2 – Print/copy foundation templates
Download and print the foundation template pdf. I use my printer to print directly onto thin fabric (see this post blog post for instructions). Alternatively, print them on copy paper, or use your chosen method for foundation piecing.
Step 3 – Starting the first log cabin block
Place one square of fabric 1, right side up, on the REVERSE side of the first foundation template, positioned centrally over the square marked 1. I use a tiny dab of washable glue to keep this square in place, or you can pin it.
Take one piece of fabric 2 & place right sides together with fabric 1 and pin. Flip the foundation template over, and working with the template facing you, stitch along the grid line between sections 1 and 2. Extend the stitching 3 stitches beyond the length of the line at each end, like this:
This is what it looks like on the right side of the pincushion:
Trim the seam to 1/4” if you need to, fold fabric 2 over, trim the ends of your thread to 1/4”, and press. You should end up with something that looks like this:
Step 4 – Completing the first log cabin block
Take a piece of fabric 3 & pin right sides together with the first 2 fabrics, aligned so it will cover section 3 on the grid after stitching and folding. Stitch seam on grid side of foundation template, then turn to the right side, fold, trim and press, as before. This is how it should look:
Repeat this process of adding the next fabric, pinning, stitching, folding, trimming and pressing until the first log cabin block is complete.
Step 4 – Finish the other log cabin blocks
Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the other blocks. If you have used paper for your foundation piecing, remove it now. Press, then trim the 4 blocks to tidy squares.
Step 5 – Finish the log cabin top
Arrange the blocks so that either of your fabric colours are grouped in the middle – sometimes one way looks better than the other. Take 2 of the blocks and stitch together – if you used fabric templates you can use the grid lines to guide you.
Repeat for the other 2 blocks, then press the seams open. Stitch the 2 halves together and press the seam open. If you used paper for your foundation piecing, apply a piece of iron-on medium weight interfacing now, you don’t need to bother if you used fabric for your foundation.
Tip: Steps 6 and 7 following are fairly brief because of the restriction on length for Fat Quarterly. If you check out the instructions for my Quick Pieced Pincushion (it is constructed in the same way) there is lots more detail, and pics.
Step 6 – Make the pincushion
Iron medium weight interfacing to the pincushion backing fabric. Right sides together, stitch round the edge of the pincushion, leaving a 1.5” turning gap. Clip the corners of the cushion, turn through, stuff, then close the turning hole using ladder stitch.
Step 7 – Adding the button
Thread a needle with a double piece of cotton thread, and tie the ends together. Take the needle and thread down through the centre of the cushion from the top to the bottom. Do not pull the thread tight – leave a 2” tail. Make a tiny stitch and take the needle back through, threading it through the loop created by the knotted tail. Pull the thread gently and firmly to create the indentation.
Stitch on the buttons (going up and down through the pincushion) using the same length of thread. When the buttons are secure, pull the thread out next to the button on the underside, wrap the thread loosely round the button to create a loop, put the needle through the loop and pull firmly to create a knot round the button. Cut your thread close to the button and push the ends under the button to hide them.
A crochet or needle lace edging looks brilliant on this pincushion, but otherwise, you are done.