Classic Pincushion

Stitch up a classic tomato (or is it a pumpkin?) pincushion using these easy step-by-step instructions by Judy Newman. Use remnants of fabric and cut them to any size you like using a plate or any circular lid to draw around. This is an easy sewing project suitable for beginners and a great gift idea to give to friends who love to sew.

Materials needed

  • Sturdy cotton fabric – enough to cut two circles
  • Thread for machine stitching
  • Stuffing – polyester fibre filling, wool rovings or any other suitable filling
  • Embroidery thread: choose from Perle No. 8, broder or stranded
  • Needles: hand sewing and large-eyed heavy duty needle (such as upholstery)
  • Two buttons
  • Turning tool: a chopstick or knitting needle to turn seam
  • Sewing machine in good working order


NoteNote. Our small pincushion is 18cm (7in) diameter (use a bread and butter plate or bowl to trace around or make a circle using a compass) and our large one is 28.5cm (11in) – Judy used a large dinner plate to draw around. If you are using a large-scale print, choose the motif placement of the fabric carefully.
Step 1Step 1. Cut two circles from fabric, then place them right sides together and stitch around the edge with a ¼″ or 6mm seam and leave a 6cm opening. Clip notches in the seam allowance. Click on the images for a larger view.


Step 2Step 2. Turn right side out and use a chopstick, knitting needle or turning tool to carefully push the seam out.
Step 3Step 3. Fill with stuffing. Use polyester fibre filling, wool rovings, felt scraps or any other suitable filling.


Step 4Step 4. Handstitch the opening closed using the smaller needle.
Step 5Step 5. Using a double length of Perle or broder embroidery thread, or a six-strand length of stranded embroidery thread and the large-eyed needle, stitch in the centre of the cushion. Make a small backstitch to secure the thread – the tail will be obscured by the button later – then take the thread over the outer edge to the other side and through the centre, drawing the thread up tight. Repeat so you have the cushion divided into eight sections as shown; avoid stitching exactly into the same place each time so you don’t create a hole in the centre. Finish thread securely with a small backstitch.


Step 6Step 6. Stitch a decorative button into the centre of the cushion on each side using machine thread and the smaller needle.
Step 7Step 7. Admire your work!


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