Makin’ pincushions…

Morning spectacle bears! My long drought of blog fodder continues. Yesterday’s main project was assembling pincushions to put in the shop for consignment. This time around I snapped some photos for more super-fast-pic-torials. Here’s the new batch!


Filling up the cushions!

In this batch I made some regular old tufted tomatoes and a few apple and pear shaped cushions. They all start out the same way. Cut the fabric, interface and stitch. One tip for assembling the cushions: first sew together each half, then sew the halves together leaving a space to insert the filling. It’s the best way to match the points.

I like to use walnut shells for the main filling. This is a bedding material for lizards (or something) and available in the super-creepy part of PetSmart. It’s heavy enough to give the cushions some nice heft and cleaner than sand. I know a lot of people mention emery powder as the ideal filling for the cushion to help sharpen the needles and pins, but after researching it seems that the whole emery thing is a relic from the past. Today’s needles and pins do not need the constant sharpening as they are made from higher-grade materials that are fine with any old filling. Plus, emery powder is hard to find and pricey. Each of these cushions takes between two and three cups of walnut shells. I top off each cushion with some regular poly batting (and occasionally wool felt scraps). The batting allows me to get the cushions VERY full, and it acts as a sort of ‘plug’, keeping the free-flowing walnut shells from spilling back out of the cushion.

For the rest of the filling up process, here’s my mini tutorial.

Here are my cushions, all filled and stitched.

Trims and stems

Once all of my cushions are filled, they’re ready for trimming! This is my favorite part – I get to paw through my stash of buttons, yarn and felt. I love wool felt – it feels nice an beefy and the colors seem more vivid. I buy most of my wool felt (actually a wool/rayon mix) at Treadle Yard goods in St. Paul. They also carry some nice bamboo/rayon felt that is softer and more flimsy, but comes in great, bright colors. I also use a few flannels and wools for trimming.

Before I can start trimming and tufting the cushions I have one more thing to do – make stems for my fruits. Basically it’s sculpting with wool. Here’s how.

Tufting the fruit

The pears and apples are assembled in the same way. Fill, tuft, attach leaves and stems. Here, I’m working on one of the pears. My favorite pear. Oh, how I love those colors!

Before I start, my #1 tip for tufting and trimming pincushions is to stock up on specialty needles. A 5” doll needle (thin enough to get through the holes on buttons) and a curved needle (normally in the upholstery section) will make the whole process a LOT easier.

OK, now for the pic-torial.

Assembling the tomatoes

The tomato cushions are a bit more involved to assemble, but they’re my favorite to use. In my example I’m using contrasting yarn to tuft the cushion and I used a shank-style button on the top. It’s a bit easier to tighten and secure the yarn if you use the 4-hole style button on the top, but I like the shank-style buttons more, looks-wise.

When putting together a tomato first wrap the decorative yarn, then add the felt and buttons – that way the felt sits over the yarn. Using two buttons on the tomato is key to get a nice, secure tuft and solid cushion. The two buttons act as a sort control on the yarn, adding some tension and helping to secure the yarn before even tying knots!

Here they are…a nice little family of pincushions! It was hard to bring them in to sell –especially that pear! But I already have a pincushion at home that I love. Hopefully they will all find good homes!

 

Lucky for you bears, my SECONDARY project yesterday was making a sundress. I’m almost done, so lord willin’ and the crik don’t rise, in tomorrow’s post we’ll be getting back to our true love…dresses!! So clean off your specs for the reveal!

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7 Comments
  • Anonymous
    July 1, 2011

    Hi Patty,

    Do you think the walnut shells would work well as stuffing for a tailor's ham? Or is it too dense?

    Thanks,
    Amber

  • Kristin
    June 16, 2011

    I'm thinking the guys at PetSmart suspect you have a very large lizard, indeed!

  • julandmatt
    June 15, 2011

    Wow these are really beautiful…who knew walnut shells? Ok you did but I'm new – haha. Great explanations.

  • Janlynn
    June 15, 2011

    Your posts are always entertaining. Your pincushions are beautiful.

  • DragonFrog
    June 15, 2011

    Thank you, this is very timely for me… I just made a pincushion, but I'm not quite satisfied with it. This tutorial should help with round 2!

  • Jilly Be
    June 15, 2011

    Another fab tute from you, with adorable results :)

  • Donna
    June 15, 2011

    Love the pincushions – thanks for the tips! I made my pincushion and I filled it with dryer lint. :)

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