Friday, September 6, 2013

pincushion, finally!

i've needed a new pincushion for . . . i don't even know how long. since the dawn of sewing time around here, i suppose. this summer, some wrapped up binding has been standing in for the awaited arrival and the rest of my pins just live in the box. that binding is about to go on it's quilt and trying to get pins out of the box is a risky venture. so a pincushion was in order.

 i've got several patterns for some adorable heather bailey pincushions (supplies for some, too) as well as the countless patterns in my sewing library. but other than the strawberry i started years ago, i just haven't buckled down and made one. there always seem to be more pressing sewing projects to spend my limited time on. until this week!

i was browsing ayumi takahashi's book patchwork, please! and decided to make the pincushion on the cover. all it needed was a few scaps. i have plenty of those. i even had some linens stashed away from when we made headbands at girls weekend 2010.

 i selected some pink and pink-with-green fabrics from the scrap basket. for my linen, i chose a shot charcoal.

i've never done foundation paper piecing before or sewn a 3d shape, so this was out in exploratory waters for me. aside from it being maybe difficult to work with because it was small, i figured a simple project like this was a good choice for a beginner.

the books directions, however, were not extremely clear for a beginner like me. there was a certain level of assumed knowledge i was lacking and some directions that were just unclear. i was able to figure out how to do everything, but think the explanations could have been more precise and a few more diagrams would have been appreciated.

for example, in the paper piecing instruction section, you're told to temporarily glue the first scrap to the paper pattern, wrong sides together. then you're immediately told "with right sides together, fold the pattern down and cut 1/4" away from the paper." this thoroughly confused me! i thought it was a typo until i kept looking over everything and realized it just wanted me to fold the paper out of the way to create a 1/4" seam allowance on the scrap. "fold the paper down, right sides together" would have been more helpful. to me, at least.

when it came to the pattern for the pincushion, diagrams would have been helpful. having never done a 3d shape before, i didn't understand how to place all the pieces for sewing until i had played around with them a bit. but i did get there.

also, i do really think there is an incorrect measurement in that pattern. the little square patches are 2" sq, and you're supposed to end up with a patch 2 1/2" sq so that you have a seam allowance on all sides. yet the fabric scrap for the middle is supposed to be cut at 2" x 1.5", so i was missing the seam allowance in a few places.

the linen scraps were all to be cut the same size, which meant a lot of waste for the tiniest piece at the bottom and not quite enough for the piece across the top. i quickly discovered i could use pieces cut off the sides for the tiniest bottom triangle, which saved me 3 scraps. in the future, i think i would cut 8 rectangles as called for (2" x 1.5") and 4 rectangles at 2.5" x 1.5" instead of 16 at 2" x 1.5".

 i think that's why i had gaps in some spots, like in the photo above.  the gaps fell in the seam allowance, so when i sewed the top on, it all seems to have worked out, so i guess it's okay. but i'd rather be safe than sorry. if this were a project that was going to be washed ever, those little gaps might cause issues.

it was pretty easy sewing that little box together - i was surprised! i thought i'd have difficulty manipulating the pieces so they didn't get sewn together in the wrong places, but i had no problems at all.

when it came time to stuff the box, i got out my stuffing scraps. this box of strings and cuttings too small to be good for anything else has been piling up in hopes of being used as stuffing in projects that require some.

 so instead of polyfil, i used the strings. the washed bits from my epp project were especially soft and cushy feeling. so glad there was a use for them! i even used the leftover pieces cut off of this project when the piecing was all trimmed up.

 so here she is - not as crisp looking as ayumi's cover girls, but not too shabby, either. i did have a small mismatch along seams, so one of the patterned fabric pieces is slightly off in the center, but the button seems to be covering that up. ayumi used fabric covered buttons for her pincushions, but i didn't have kits for any small enough for this project. not wanting to delay with a trip to the store, i selected a sparkly green button from my button stash. (oh, yes, i have one of those, too.)

overall, this was a fun and quick project. heck, if i can do it, anyone probably can! i will likely make more of these if i have a need for a quick gift. i do like that it uses up scraps and that i got to dig into my stuffing scraps and button stash, as well.

in general, the book is completely adorable! there are several projects i'm itching to make, like the storybook quilt and pencil cases (zip pouches - another first!). and i really, really want to figure out where ayumi gets all her great fabrics. japan? i hope not. i sure wish she'd credited the sources so i could get my hands on some. her fabric taste is awesome.

my only other wish for the book? a cd with all the patterns on it so you could print out what you wanted instead of photocopying or tracing them. that would have been the icing on the cake. i might just have to join the zakka along 2.0 now!

linking in with finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts.


  1. Beautiful pin cushion and a fabulous use for those frays and too small scraps!

  2. Cute pincushion and a very good use of those scraps.

  3. Love the pin cushion and the adorable button! You should join in for Zakka 2.0! It's been a blast so far! Next week is the pencil pouch. :)

  4. I really want to make a pin cushion myself, this is soooo cute. So many cute designs out there it is hard to pick one:)

  5. I never would have guessed you are a beginner, when I first saw the finished pincushion. I love the fabrics you used, and the button is just awesome! I had to need to use BIGGER scraps for this project, or you will want to CRY!

  6. I love that you used your bits for stuffing. The fabrics are just awesome and love that button!

  7. Just darling! So sorry for the 'assumed knowledge' but it turned out just lovely. And what a great finishing touch in that button!


a kind word is always appreciated. thank you for your visit.