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ScrapBusters: Mini Pouf Patchwork Pincushion

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A "pouf" is a marshmallow-like ottoman. They've been all the rage in decorating for a few years now, bringing unexpected color, shape, texture, and fun into a room. We have a full-size, extra cushy square pouf project you can try for your own trendy decorating statement, but in the meantime, we miniaturized one as a clever pincushion. Ours uses Layer Cake squares as an easy way to gather a wonderful mixture of perfectly coordinating color and pattern, but the pieces needed are really quite tiny. So bring out your scrap bag and dive in for all your favorites!

Make a pile of mini pouf pincushions for all your sewing friends. Then accessory them with some cute straight pins, like the Wrights Flower Head Pins shown above. 

Our mini pouf pincushion finishes at approximately 2" high x 3¾" in diameter. 

If you have fun with this little pincushion, you might also like our Three-Tier Pincushion Stack.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • As mentioned above, we used a Layer Cake to make things quick and easy. Each pincushion uses EIGHT coordinating fabrics. If you choose not to use pre-cuts, you'll need to cut pieces as shown below in the Getting Started section: eight 2" x 6" strips and two 4" x 4" squares: we used eight designs from the Serenade Layer Cake by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics.
  • Small handful of Poly-Fil® polyester fiberfill or wool roving
  • All purpose thread to match fabric
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Tape measure
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. From EACH of the EIGHT coordinating fabrics, cut ONE 2" x 6" strip.
  2. In addition, from ONE of the fabrics, cut TWO 4" x 4" squares for the top and bottom "lids."
  3. Arrange the strips in a row, aligning the 6" sides. Mix and match to create an interesting patchwork of color, pattern, and motif size.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Working from left to right, sew the strips together. To do this, place strip one and strip two right sides together along one 6" side. Pin in place. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch together. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot to keep an exact stitching line.
  2. Place strip three right sides together with the remaining raw edge of strip two (which is actually now strip one/two). Pin in place and stitch together, again using a ¼" seam allowance.  
  3. Continue in this manner until all eight strips are sewn together to form one panel. Press all the seams open.
  4. Fold the panel in half, right sides together, aligning the last two 6" raw edges. Pin in place. 
  5. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch together to create a cylinder. Press the final seam open
  6. Turn the cylinder right side out. Press under the raw edge along both the top and bottom ¼". 
  7. Thread the hand sewing needle and knot the end (use a single thread not a double thread). Sew a simple loose running stitch all around the bottom of the cylinder, going in and out with your needle through the folded edge. This is a hand gathering stitch. 
  8. When you get back around to where you started, pull the thread tight, cinching the opening down to about a dime size hole. Knot the thread to secure the opening at this size.
  9. Your cylinder now looks like a little cup. Turn it over and stuff it with fiberfill or wool roving through the open end (the top). 
  10. Use the hand sewing needle to sew a loose running stitch all around the top just as you did around the bottom. 
  11. Pull up the stitches, again - just as you did above, adjusting the stuffing as necessary to get a smooth look. 
  12. Knot your thread to secure the stitches, but do not cut the threads. Instead, push the needle through the pouf from the top to the bottom. Catch the edge of the gathered opening on the bottom, then push the needle back up from the bottom to the top. Repeat this three or four times, drawing up the excess thread each time until the pouf has tightened-down to approximately 2" deep. Knot the thread and trim it flush with the top of the pouf.
  13. Find the two 4" x 4" squares. Press under each edge of each square ¼". 
  14. Then, fold back all four corners of each square and press, creating two octagons. 
  15. Place one octagon over the gathered top of the pouf. Pin in place, aligning the corners of the octagon with the seams of the pouf. 
  16. Hand sew in place with tiny, neat slip stitches
  17. Repeat with the reamaining square, turning it into a second octagon to position and stitch over the bottom of the pouf. 


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler



Comments (10)

juliainnorway said:
juliainnorway's picture

This was a really fun, easy and quick project. I added some dried peas in a small pouch (one of those netted bags you get when you buy jewelry) at the bottom to give it more weight and I just love the result. And speaking of scrap busters, I filled mine with cut-up leftover pieces of fusible batting that would have been thrown away. I knew I could use them for something. I will be making these as gifts for my crafter friends for sure!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ juliainnorway - good ideas for both the stuffing and the weight at the bottom. We've also used simple metal washers in the base of pincushions for weight.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Kathleen Ann - thanks! Have fun making one... or two or three or....

Jane Coombs said:
Jane Coombs's picture

Often at quilt shows you will see vendors selling ground walnut shells to be used for stuffing pincushions. Does anyone have that red Japanese vintage pin cushion with the strawberry on top? The strawberry still sharpens pins. Wonder what it is stuffed with...

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Jane Coombs - Dritz still makes the tomato pincushion with the strawberry sharpener. It has emery powder inside it. 

Kathleen Ann said:
Kathleen Ann's picture

I just looked for a bag of ground walnut shells today at the pet shop. Yikes! I certainly don't need a five quart bag of them!! If I had a bunch of friends close by who could share a bag I'd buy it in a heartbeat. It was only around $8.00 but I just don't need that much! Maybe I should find a friend with a reptile . . . :)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Kris Valle - Thanks! Hope you make a bunch. If you do, email us a picture of your pile o' poufs.