How To Make A Pin Cushion | #ProjectBasedLearning How To Hand Sew

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What we thought were going to be a couple weeks at home has turned into a couple months, and many of us are looking for new hobbies to help pass the the time. Sewing is the perfect hobby to keep you busy and to help you create the garments you always wish you had. Learning how to sew from scratch can feel like there is a lot that you need to learn at once, which is why we created the #ProjectBasedLearning series where we take you through some of the basics of sewing through some fun little projects that help you focus on just a couple different sewing skills at the time. With #ProjectBasedLearning you can learn how to sew faster and while creating some gorgeous and unique pieces. 

Today, we are going to be taking you through some basic hand stitching to help you make a cute pin cushion for your pins. Before we get started on any sewing project, we like to always make sure that we do a material check-list, just to make sure we have everything we need. To make a cute little pin cushion you are going to need: 

Pre-Sewing: Materials

Now that you have all of your materials, it is time to get started! When it comes to picking your fabrics for this project, we definitely recommend that you just upcycle an old shirt or a pillow case, but if you don’t have any fabrics at home to up-cycle, you can buy some fat quarters on Amazon or you can also buy some fabric by the yard from, and right now, you can get free shipping on all orders over 50$!


Step 1: Draw The Pattern

As you can probably imagine, the pattern for a pin cushion is not very complicated. You just need a circle of about 7-8 inches in diameter, I used a roll of painters tape to draw my perfect circle, but you can also use a mug or a bowl and adjust the size to your liking. Remember that the bigger you make it, the more stuffing you will need. Once you have drawn your circle on paper, cut it out (NOT with your fabric scissors, those should be ONLY for fabric), and you have your pattern! It is always good practice to label your paper patterns just so you don’t mix them with your paper scraps.  

Step 2: Cut Out The Fabric

To make this pin cushion, you are going to need about two squares of 10” by 10” non-stretch fabric. Ideally, this would be a cotton fabric, linen fabric or canvas fabric, with whatever pattern or color you prefer. If you would like to recycle some fabric, old bed sheets and pillow cases are ideal for this project. Now that you have your pattern, you can grab your 2 pieces of fabric scraps, or a larger one folded (if they are wrinkled, make sure to iron them), set your pattern on it, and with the help of your fabric weights and chalk, trace your pattern onto the fabric. Once you’ve traced it, cut out the circles along the chalk marks using your fabric scissors, making sure to cut through both layers of the fabric if you drew your pattern on a fold. 


Step 3: Sew Along The Circle

With your two circles of fabric, you are going to want to place them right sides together and pin them in place using three pins forming almost a triangle. With your needle and matching thread, you want to first, push your needle through both layers of the fabric and tie a knot to hold your thread. Next, you are going to do something similar to a running stitch. You are going to push your needle through both layers, bringing it back through to the right side about ¼ of an inch ahead of where the first hole is. Starting just a centimeter behind where your needle just came through, you are again going stitch ¼ of an inch, always starting each subsequent stitch a little before where the last stitch ended. You are going to do this running stitch all around, making sure to leave a one inch gap so that you can stuff your cushion once you flip it right side out. For more detailed instructions on how to do your running stitch be sure to check out this tutorial from Apartment Therapy.

Alternatively, you can also use your sewing machine to single stitch this all the way around. So much faster and so much easier, but I know that not everybody has a sewing machine machine at home, which is why we are doing this nifty hand-sewing project. Hopefully this will convince some of the beginner sewers to take the next step and get their sewing machine.  

Step 4: Turn Right Side Out And Stuff It

Now that you have sewn most of your cushion shut, you need to gently pull through the one inch gap until you turn the cushion right side out. If you remember, we were sewing right sides together, so once you finish sewing them shut, the right sides are on the inside of what you have sewn, so you want to flip it inside out so that you can hide the stitching. Using the one inch gap, you are going to stuff your cushion using whatever stuffing is convenient to you. I used repurposed yarn t but you can also use scrap fabrics (cut very tiny), cotton stuffing, polyester stuffing, foam from couch cushions and possibly other things, just make sure to test how your pins poke through your stuffing.  


Step 5: Close Stuffing Gap

Once you have stuffed your cushion, you want to make sure that the hems of your one inch gap are closed inward, and using your needle and matching thread, you are going to close this tiny gap shut. With the two folded hems together, you are going to want to poke your needle through both layers as close to the folds as possible, and do a whipstitch of small diagonal lines going through both layers, and bringing the needle back around and through every centimeter along the gap. For more detailed instructions on how to do your whipstitch be sure to check out this tutorial from Apartment Therapy. They also have a slightly more complicated Slip stitch, or ladder stitch, but it does create more discrete closures, so if you are feeling adventurous, you might want to give it a try. I’m not sure how this closure can be done with a sewing machine other than with a top stitch, but that might give your cushion an odd tip. 

Step 6: Sew ‘Petals’

This last step is optional, but it just makes any pin cushion a little bit cuter and shaped like a flower. First, draw a center point on both sides of your cushion. Using a pointed yarning needle and some yarn, you are going to want to sew loops going through the center points, making sure to tighten them around the cushion to create the petal shapes. Start by putting your needle through the cushion at the center point, and tie a knot on the end of the yarn to hold it in place. Next, you are going to pull the needle through, and go back under to the same side where you first poked through, creating a loop around the cushion. Sew 6-8 of these loops at the same distance and tension and then tie off your yarn. Fluff your cushion into a nice round shape, and you are done! 

Now, you will hopefully have a gorgeous new pincushion so you don’t have to spend any money on getting one. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come out perfect your first time. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. We hope that you enjoy making this project as much as we did putting this together for you, and be sure to stay tuned for the next #ProjectBasedLearning blog coming next week.

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Author: David Perf

"The only thing that matters in life is having a little bit of happiness everyday". Multidisciplinary artist exploring and learning about the fields of writing, fashion and activism.

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