Tutorial: Liberty Log Cabin Pincushion

I wrote this 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. Now, because of my day job, I have an endless supply of Liberty scraps, that I can use for projects like this – I just need to find the time!

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

Fabrics Used
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.

pic 1

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:

pic 2

This is what it looks like on the right side of the pincushion:

pic 3

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:

pic 4

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:

pic 5

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.

pic 6

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.

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


Crochet Pattern: Granny at the Pictures motif and pincushion

So whilst you’re all biting your nails and keeping your fingers crossed (just how are you doing that?!) for the Big Giveaway draw tomorrow, I thought I’d try and distract you with a daftly-named pincushion:

Crochet and linen pincushion

Would you like one?

Well, you have 2 options: either leave a comment on this blog post telling me how many pincushions you have already (I think I have 5 – that’s not including sofa arms of  course!), and I will send this one to a randomly selected person, or you could make one of your own.

Granny at the Pictures Pincushion

The pinnie is constructed from a little padded cushion of fabric or felt, sandwiched between to crochet granny squares, joined with a single crochet seam. I got the inspiration from Lacy Crochet, which has a pattern for the cutest little lacy crochet and linen pincushions.  My version is bigger, and quicker to make (lace is beautiful but slooooow). The Granny at the Pictures square is my own design (which you are very welcome to use for other granny square projects) too.

You can use any yarn with an appropriate hook to make smaller or larger versions and adjust the rest of the pattern where you need to.  I used a dk yarn and a 4mm crochet hook for this pincushion, which is about 4″x4″ (10cm x 10cm).

Stitch abbreviations

ch chain
ch sp chain space
dc double crochet
sc single crochet
ss slip stitch
yo yarn over


Granny at the Pictures Granny Square:

Stitch instructions

Starting popcorn: chain 3, make 2 dc in same stitch as slip stitch. Take loop of hook, insert hook in to top stitch of ch 3 and through the loop you’ve just dropped, yo and pull through 2 loops on the hook.

Standard popcorn: 3dc in same stitch, remove hook from loop, insert, from front to back into first dc of popcorn and through the dropped loop, yarn over and pull through 2 loops on the hook

Start with a magic circle (also known as a sliding ring).

1) Make 8 sc in the ring then tighten the ring  and join circle with a ss.

pic 1
1st round of stitches completed & joined with a ss.

2) Make starting popcorn, *chain 3; make popcorn; repeat from * 6 times; ch 3; join to top of starting popcorn with ss. Make ss into next 3ch sp.

pic 3
Step 1 of starting popcorn
pic 4
Arrows show when you need to put your hook to make the starting popcorn.
pic 5
Stitches on the hook ready to complete the starting popcorn.
pic 6
Completed starting popcorn
pic 7
Arrow shows where you're going to make the 2nd popcorn.
pic 8
Arrows show where you need to put your hook to make the 2nd popcorn.
pic 11
Completed 2nd round.

3) Chain 3, 2 dc in 3 ch sp, *ch 3, 3 dc in next 3 ch sp, 1 ch, 3 dc in next 3 ch sp, repeat from *2 times, then make 3 ch, 3 dc in next 3 ch sp, 1 ch, then join to top of first ch 3 (at beginning of round 3); ss to next 3 ch sp.

pic 13
The beginning of row 3.
pic 16
The end of row 3, showing where you need to make slip stitches to move to the next 3 ch sp
pic 17
The blue Vs show the slip stitches

4) 3 ch, 2 dc, 2 ch, 3 dc in same 2 ch sp; *1 ch, 3 dc in next ch sp; 1 ch; 3 dc, 3 ch, 3 dc in next 2 ch sp, repeat from *twice then ch 1, 3 dc in next ch sp, 1 ch, join with ss to top stitch of 3 ch at beginning of row.

pic 18
Starting row 4 - now it looks like a square!
pic 19
The completed square

5) Fasten off and weave in ends.

Just Your Ordinary Granny (With a Twist:

Start with a magic circle (also known as a sliding ring).

1) Make 12 sc in the ring then tighten the ring  and join circle with a ss.

pic 20
The start of the first row - not your usual granny.

2) Ch 3, 2 dc in next 2 sc, *ch 3, 1 dc in next 3 sc, repeat from * twice, then ch 3 and join with ss to top of ch 3 at beginning of round; ss to next 3 ch sp.

pic 21
The completed 2nd row - from here on, you're back with the granny you know and love.

3) Ch 3, 2 dc, 2 ch, 3 dc in same 3 ch sp; *1 ch, 3 dc, 2 ch,3 dc in next 3 ch sp; repeat from *twice; 1 ch, join with ss to top of ch 3 at beginning of round, ss to next 2 ch sp.

4) Ch 3, 2 dc, 2 ch, 3 dc in same 2 ch sp; *1 ch, 3 dc in next 1 ch sp, 1ch, 3 dc, 2 ch, 3 dc in next 2 ch sp; repeat from * twice, then ch 1, 3 dc in next ch sp, ch 1, join round with ss.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Your 2 squares will be slightly different sizes – there’s no need to worry about this!

Fabric cushion:

The easy bit! Cut 2 pieces of cotton or felt fabric the same size as your completed top granny square.

pic 23
Pretty fabric!

Put right sides together and machine stitch round the edges, leave a 1.5″ space in one of the sides for turning. Trim the seams and cut diagonally across the corners, close to the stitching, to reduce bulk.

pic 24
Gap left for turning and corners and seams trimmed.

Turn your cushion pad right side out. Stuff very firmly with toy stuffing and then sew up the turning hole – you don’t need to worry about being neat here.

pic 26
Sewing up the turning hole.

Assembling the cushion:

Put the 2 crochet squares wrong sides together, lining up the spaces and corners on two of the outer rows and with the Granny at the Pictures square facing you. Put your hook through 1 dc in the top square, and the corresponding dc in the bottom square, pull through a loop, make a chain stitch then make a single crochet in the same place.

pic 22
Joining the 2 squares.

Continue round, joining the squares together using a sc seam, spacing stitches regularly round the square, and making sure you have enough stitches at the corner spaces (I used 3).

When you have crocheted about 3/4 of the seam, pop your cushion pad inside and complete the crochet seam to enclose it.

pic 27
The finishing stages..

Join the single crochet round with a slip stich then fasten off and weave in the ends. And you’re all done!

Crochet and linen pincushion

Don’t forget to let me know if you’d like this one… and hope you enjoy using the tutorial.

Tutorial: Cupcake Pincushion

If you fancy a bit of hand-sewing, this is little felt pincushion is a lovely project, and not too tricky either. It’s an ideal project if you are just beginning to learn embroidery stitches like French knots and lazy daisies.

Felt cupcake pincushion tutorial

You will need:


Trace the pattern pieces for the cupcake base and icing onto the Bondaweb & then roughly cut round the pieces like this:

Felt cupcake pincushion 1

Iron these pieces onto your selected pieces of felt. Don’t have your iron too hot – and follow the Bondaweb instructions!

Felt cupcake pincushion 2

Cut very neatly & carefully round the outline of the fused Bondaweb – you should end up with something that looks like this – don’t remove the Bondaweb backing paper yet:

Felt cupcake pincushion 3

Cut out the circular paper pattern for the pincushion top and base, then pin to your chosen piece of felt and cut out. Repeat for the base of the pincushion.

Felt cupcake pincushion 4

Take the pincushion top and the cupcake pieces over to your iron and arrange them on your ironing board like this:

Felt cupcake pincushion 5

Leaving the icing section in place, pick up the cupcake case (the lilac section in my photo) and remove the Bondaweb backing paper. Then carefully put the case section back in place, next to the icing, and use your iron to fuse. Now repeat this process with the icing section, making sure that the 2 pieces match together as closely as possible (don’t worry if there are a few little gaps, you will bring them together with your stitching later). You should end up with something like this:

Felt cupcake pincushion 6

Now take 3 strands of co-ordinating embroidery thread and topstitch round the base and 2 sides of the cupcake base.  When sewing the sides keeping the stitches parallel with the bottom of the cupcake makes for a neater finish.

Felt cupcake pincushion 7

This is what the stitching will look like on the back – it’s the slant that keeps your stitches nice and straight on the front. This might be stating the obvious, but this is the sort of thing that I need spelling out to me!

Felt cupcake pincushion 8

Now topstitch the icing section using a co-ordinating thread – including sewing along the line where the icing meets the base. Make sure that you pull any gappy bits together. I like to make sure I get a nice stitch in the V where the icing meets the cupcake case – so you get something that looks like this:

Felt cupcake pincushion 9

Now decorate the cupcake with whatever stitching you like. I like to use French knots or rice/seeding stitch to make the sprinkles, and lazy daisy stitches to make flowers, or whipped back stitch to create lines on the cupcake base.. Get creative! You could also use little seed beads or bugle beads to make the sprinkles, if you’re not that keen on embroidery!

Felt cupcake pincushion 10
Colourful seeding stitch / rice stitch
Felt cupcake pincushion 11
Lazy daisy flowers
Felt cupcake pincushion 12
French knots
Felt cupcake pincushion 13
Whipped backstitch

Once you’ve done all the stitching you want to do, sew on a cheerful button – the cherry on the cake!

Felt cupcake pincushion 14

I’m not giving you an exact measurement for the length of the piece of felt you need to cut to create the pincushion sides, because it could be that your software/printer has printed the pattern pieces a little larger or smaller than mine… So, now it’s time for the maths!

Measure across the widest part of the pincushion top – it should be about 7cm (2 3/4″), and multiply that number by 3.14 (that’s Pi to the maths whizzes out there). You should get an answer of around 22-23cm (8 1/2″ – 9 1/4″). Add on an extra 1.5cm (1/2″) to make sure that you’ll have an overlap when you sew round. When you have your final measurement, cut a piece of felt that length and 4cm (1 3/4″) high.

Now line up the top of your pincushion with the start of the long edge of the side piece you have just cut. You are going to join them using blanket stitch – here’s a great video on You Yube which shows how to do blanket stitch. Here’s how you start – the knot is hidden in between the two pieces of felt:

Felt cupcake pincushion 15

Work blanket stitch all the way round, joining the top and side together. When you are almost back to where you started, trim off any excess overlapping felt so that you have something that looks like this – with a small overlap:

Felt cupcake pincushion 16

As you complete the round make sure you catch up the overlapping section with blanket stitch to secure it neatly. Fasten off the stitching securely on the inside of the pincushion.

Now you need to sew up the side of the pincushion. I like to do this with a simple whip stitch – it’s a bit tricky because you have to put one hand inside the cushion – but persevere – it can be done, and it’s only a couple of inches! Here’s how you do it:

Felt cupcake pincushion 17

Now take the base section you cut a while back, and use blanket stitch to sew it to the sides, as you did for the top. Stop when you are about an 3cm (an inch or so) from the end – don’t fasten off, just unthread your needle and leave the long piece of thread hanging whilst you stuff the cushion – be careful not to stuff the thread tail into your cushion (like I have in the pic!).

Felt cupcake pincushion 18

Now stuff the pincushion – use whatever you like. And make sure it’s thoroughly stuffed to ensure that it keeps its shape.

Now rethread your needle and sew some more blanket stitch until you have almost closed the hole – push a little bit more stuffing inside just to make sure that there aren’t any unstuffed little bits. Close the hole and fasten off.

And you’re all finished – I hope you like your new pincushion…!


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