Whip up these sweet treats for the sewers and crafters on your gift list... or better yet, make a set for them and one for yourself! Our stacked trio of pincushions is designed to look like a delicious three tier cake – complete with edge icing (aka: mini pom trim) and a cherry on top (aka: single cherry pink pom). Use the little cushions separately or as a terrific tower. It's nice to have several on hand so you can have a cushion by your machine, one in your cutting area, and another on your ironing board. Pins at the ready wherever you are. We show you how to insert washers into the base to weight them so they're more stable individually and as a stack o' three.
Each cushion is made up of eight wedges: four on the top and a matching four on the bottom. The two circles are rotated 180˚ prior to stitching together to create an interesting color wheel when viewed from the side.
We used a selection of layer cake squares from our stash. The original collection is Paris Flea Market by 3 Sisters for Moda Fabrics.
For three cushions, you get to pick twelve different fabrics. When deciding on your combination, start with a basic color scheme. The balance of colors should also take into account placement: what's next to what. Stay away from using the exact same size motif from one fabric to the next. Stir it up with some large prints, medium prints, and smaller prints. A variety of scale creates interest in your finished piece. For more about expert information on mixing and matching, take a look at our tutorial: Top 10 Designer Tips for Blending Colors and Prints.
These pincushions finish at 6", 5" and 4" and can be used separately or stacked.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Quarter Inch Seam foot; optional but helpful
- Wide Beading foot; optional; a standard Zipper foot is another choice
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies listed are for all three pincushions
- TWELVE coordinated scraps or twelve layer cake squares (10" x 10")
- 1½ yards of ¼" mini pom pom trim or similar; we used a deep rose mini pom trim for all three pin cushions; a cording would be another option
- THREE plain, two-hole 1" buttons for the base of all three cushions
- TWO decorative, two-hole ⅝" buttons for the top of the 6" and 5" cushions
- ONE ½" single pom for the top of the 4" cushion
- SIX 1" washers; these are optional and used to weight the cushions
- Scraps or one small bag of polyester fiberfill
- All purpose thread to match fabric and trim
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
- Standard hand sewing needle
- Large hand sewing needle for button sewing
- Download and print out the one pattern sheet: Stacked Pin Cushions.
IMPORTANT: This pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on the page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out the three pattern pieces along the solid lines.
- Select FOUR coordinating prints for EACH pin cushion.
- Using the appropriately sized pattern piece, cut TWO wedges from EACH print for EACH cushion.
- You should end up with four pairs of two wedges for each cushion (eight wedges total for each).
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Create the front and back circles
The steps below show the construction of the 6" pin cushion. The steps are the same for each cushion with the exception of the "cherry on top" pom for the 4" one.
- Arrange the eight wedges into two identical circles.
- For each circle, place the top and bottom pairs right sides together, pinning in place along the inside straight edge.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch the pairs together. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot for a perfect allowance.
- You now have two sets of half circles. Press the seam allowances in opposite directions. This will allow the center points to nicely nest together. Pin both pairs of half circles right sides together.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch the first pair together with a complete seam. Press the seam allowance together and to one side. This will become the pin cushion top.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch the second pair together, leaving an approximate 1" opening just past the center point of the seam. Remember to lock your seam on either side of the opening. Press the seam allowance together and to one side. This will become the pin cushion bottom.
Add the mini pom trim
- Find the 1½ yards of mini pom trim. Run it around the circumference of one circle, add approximately 2" extra to work with for an overlap, then trim off a piece to this length.
- Thread a hand sewing needle with contrasting thread and hand baste the mini pom trim to the top circle (the circle without the opening in the seam). The poms should sit ¼" from the raw edge of the circle.
NOTE: We chose to hand baste because it was easier to control with such a small circumference, small seam allowance, and small trim. This is the first of two basting steps.
- Start and stop at one of the seams and overlap the trim. There will be a bit of excess trim extending beyond the fabric. This is fine, it will be trimmed flush later.
- Attach a Wide Beading foot if possible and machine baste the trim into its final position. If you do not have a Beading foot, a Zipper foot is an alternative. This is the second step of the two-step pom basting.
Assemble front to back
- Place the cushion's top circle, with the trim in place, right side up on your work surface.
- Rotate the cushion's bottom circle so its wedges are 180˚ to the top panel.
- Place the two circles right sides together, aligning all the seams. Pin in place.
- Following along in the trim's machine basting seam, stitch the two layers together around the entire perimeter. We used our standard presser foot; a Zipper foot would be another option.
- Trim away the excess trim tails and turn the cushion right side out through the opening in the center seam of the bottom circle. The pom trim should pop out nicely and evenly around the edge. Press flat. Remove any visible hand basting stitches.
Stuff, add buttons and weights
- Working with small handfuls of polyester fiberfill, stuff the cushion through the opening in the back seam. You want it to be pretty firm.
- Find the large hand sewing needle. Cut a length of thread to coordinate with the fabric and buttons; we used a natural. Double the thread, and insert the two ends through the eye of the needle. Match the ends and knot. This should result in four strands of thread.
- Take a stitch or two at the center of the pincushion back to secure the thread, making sure to catch only the fabric (not the stuffing).
- Find a plain button. Run the needle up through one hole of the button, then back through the second hole and down into the center of the fabric.
- Bring the needle through the fabric to the inside of the cushion. As above, take care to not catch the stuffing.
- Thread two washers onto the needle.
- Position the washers directly under the button on the inside of the cushion. Pass the needle back through the button to the right side of the cushion bottom, securing the washers in position.
- Pull the needle through the entire cushion from back to front, pasting through the button again, and coming out at the exact center of the top.
- Pass the needle back and forth several times from front and back.
- Thread the needle through one of the decorative buttons. Again, pass the needle back and forth several times from front and back, ending at the back.
- Pull up the thread tightly to create the tufting and secure, but do not cut thread. Slip the needle into the cushion fabric just to hold it in place.
- Find and thread the regular hand sewing needle with thread to match the fabric. Hand stitch the opening in seam. We used a whip stitch to close.
- Release the large needle from its "holding position," and if need be, pull up the thread to increase the tufting. Knot this original thread and hide the thread ends behind the bottom button.
- The 5" pin cushion is made in exactly the same manner. For the 4" cushion, simply substitute a single ½" pom for the top button, creating the "cherry on top" of your pin cushion "cake."
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler