Flower Garden Pincushions

Today is a cool spring day, and the air is alive with birds  flying as straight as arrows from tree to tree. I saw my first robin, and black-capped chickadees have been visiting our feeders. The air is so clean and chilled that it feels like a giant broom sweeping winter away, and my brief forays outdoors have been exhilarating.

Black-capped chickadee

Meanwhile, on a more mundane level, I’ve been thinking about craft supplies. As you might imagine, I love crafting, and have accumulated lots of supplies. I love nothing more than finding treasures such as handmade papers, vintage patterns, watercolor paints, and fabrics at garage sales. I look for what I think of as “real things,”–scraps of real velvet, hand-crocheted lace, wooden, not resin, picture frames, and the like. It’s amazing once you start thinking like this what you will find. So instead of coming across a craft in a magazine and then purchasing the supplies, I look at my supplies and see what they suggest I make. This entirely reasonable, through somewhat backwards approach to crafting is by way of an explanation for why it’s all gotten completely out of control, and that Something Must Be Done. Fabrics are spilling out of drawers, and I can’t find things.

I will start my organizing efforts with something small–pins and needles. My old, sagging, velveteen, sand-leaking pincushion is not up to my crewel embroidery and quilting needles, dressmaker pins for silk, and the like, and I plan to make three pincushions. If you’ve ever looked at vintage pincushions, you know that they come in every size and shape–some quite fantastical–and if you have a moment, here is a link to a page of 18th century pincushions.

For myself, I want to use what I have on hand, and to make something practical but pretty. Wading into my fabric collection, I found a bolt of glazed chintz that looked promising. In a nearby trove of flowered and checked cottons, I found some scraps that looked nice with the chintz. In a project that is so simple, it’s worthwhile to think carefully about fabric choice. In this case, the chintz flowers are quite warm and florid, so I chose cool prints to go with.

Flower Garden Pincushions

Materials: scraps of chintz and cotton, cotton batting, polyester fiberfill, cardboard for pattern making, backing fabric, thread

Cardboard pattern pieces.

How to: Make pattern pieces with the cardboard, including a 3 x 3″ center square, and two edge pieces: 1 x 3″ and 1 x 4-1/2″. If your fabric is new, wash it to remove any starchy sizing. Iron the fabric and cut out one square from the chintz, and two pieces each of the long and short border rectangles. When cutting out the chintz, take care to center the square pattern on a flower or other motif–in quilting this is called “fussy cutting.” Then sew the short border pieces to the square, and then sew on the long border pieces. Iron. Place the block on a piece of cotton batting, and draw around it with a pencil. Cut out the batting square. I initially hand-quilted the block to the batting, but given the hard wear a pincushion can receive, decided to simply machine sew around the central motif.

Closeup of pincushion

I used some scraps of linen for the backing fabric, and again used the chintz block as a pattern, and cut out a linen square. Place the chintz block and linen square face to face, and sew together using a scant 1/4″ inch seam, leaving a gap for stuffing. Turn the cover inside out, stuff firmly with the fiberfill, and sew up the seam gap.

These little pincushions are so quick and fun to make, that I’ve gotten another idea about how to use them. A little basket of these would look beautiful pinned with jewelry–see my next post for this!

I have posted on one other pins-and-needles craft–see July 29, 2011–“See a Pin and Pick it Up.”

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4 thoughts on “Flower Garden Pincushions

  1. Fran, I wish I had known you back when I sewed. I was a fabric freak and had tons of it – the good stuff. I got rid of it long ago. Then, I got into beading and got tired of it and gave some of it away. I can’t part with my silver wire, silver baubles, and semi precious stones, though. We are feathers of a bird – I like “real”, too.

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