Pin Cushion or Pincushion, Wikipedia tells us that the earliest recorded origin dates back to the middle ages of Europe. So from early on, stitchers needed a place to put their pins and needles.


Kari’s Collection of Pincushions
She’s especially fond of the quirky, boot-shaped one she received from her Grandmother. :)

As with everything stitchy and sewing related we all seem to accumulate a bit of a pincushion stash. Some are gifts, others our own creations. They come in many shapes and sizes, from boots, birds, and fish, to the sewing tomato or apple we’ve all seen at least once.

Let’s go over some common finishes so you can start making your own unique pin cushions!

Cup Finish

A more recent pincushion project is this “tongue in cheek” Cream of Lutefisk mug. Perhaps not as pretty as the traditional tea cup but just as functional.

Lutefisk Pincushion

Cream of Pincushion

A red codfish was embroidered on to trigger cloth for the top. Trigger is a nice, tightly woven fabric and will hold up well to pin and needle stabs. A lone pink cup with no where to go also received a pincushion treatment. To complete, trim your embroidery to a circle shape at least an inch larger than the circumference of your cup. Take a running stitch around the circle, near the edge, to gather and shape. Cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside the cup, leaving about a 1/2″ width, cut the circle into a ring.


Cardboard Stencil for Teacup Finish

Fill your embroidered piece with fiberfill stuffing until plump. Set the cardboard ring on top of the stuffing and pull the running stitched thread slightly to gather and hold cardboard in place. Next lace the edges of the fabric together loosely and knot.


Fiberfill for Fluff

Fill your cup to the top with fiberfill and place your finished embroidered top over. Adjust gathers, shaping, and stuffing if necessary until satisfied with the shape. Run a bead of glue around the inside of the cup and press the edges of fabric to glue. Allow to dry.


Teacup Finish

Alternatively you can eliminate the cardboard shape completely if you like. Just leave extra fabric surrounding your embroidery, run the gather stitch, stuff, loosely lace and glue into place. Either way it takes some manipulation of fabric and glue until you get the desired results. This technique and be applied to any type of small container: muffin cup, small glassware, vintage planters, or jars.


Tartlet Cup Finish

Form Finishes

The “Create a Pin Cushion” is a clever and easy finish. From Clover, they’ve given us a choice of brown or ivory. Any fabric or piece of embroidery will work for the top. Trace around the base on your fabric fabric with brush away chalk to designate stitching area. Some not too elaborate stitching was done on a scrap of velvet fabric.

Clover Pincushion Form Clover Pincushion Form

“Create a Pin Cushion” Kit

Stitching complete, trim excess fabric. Pop some fiberfill into the inner pincushion piece and place embroidery over the top. Next stretch the rubber ring, provided in the kit, over to secure. The final step, pop the outside ring over all. A nice neat finish that couldn’t be easier.


Pin Cushion Created!

Get tired of the top, pop it apart and start over.

These wood pincushions are a breeze to finish. Use a pattern made especially for them and you’ll have one of the cutest pincushions around.

Wood Pincushion Wood Pincushion Patterns

Another favorite of many stitchers is the pincushion tray from Sudberry House. It is lovely when combined with the “Tea Roses Pincushion” pattern from Victoria Sampler. This one should definitely go on a to do list.

Wood Pincushion Patterns Sudberry Pincushion

Square Finish

Jessica stitched up a little piece of canvaswork for the 2016 Broderi Box collection. In turn it was fashioned into an adorable mini pincushion.


Broderi Box #needledit

Following the same steps this slightly larger piece was also made into a holiday pincushion.


Step 1: Trimming your Fabrics

Allowing at least 3/8″ around finished work, carefully trim away excess canvas. Next place a lining on the back of your needlework. A fabric matching the canvas color was used here. If you want a contrast color to show through any open canvas then choose a contrasting fabric. Choose a sturdy fabric for the bottom/back, line only if you think the fabric is too light weight. Place the lining behind the canvas and the bottom/back right sides together with the top. Leaving an opening for turning, machine or hand stitch together, stitching at least two canvas threads away from finished stitching.


Step 2: Pin and Sew

Be sure to reinforce stitching at starting and ending points. You may even want to stitch the seam again. Turn right side out, coax the corners out gently, and finger press seams flat.

For stuffing you have some options. The little red pincushion is filled with scented crushed walnut shells. A muslin pouch was made to contain them, sewn slightly smaller than the finished pincushion size. The holiday pincushion is partially filled with plastic pellets and fiberfill was added to the top for shaping.


Step 3: Filling

Once your filling is established, hand sew the opening shut using doubled thread.


Step 4: Handsew to Finish



You can easily add emery to this finish, like in our Hardanger pincushion kit.

Wood Pincushion

This emery pincushion was created using our kit’s design; the supplies were changed to using 28 count black fabric, Elegance pearl silk #E801, white DMC #8 pearl cotton, and Kreinik Japan gold #4 in color #002J.


Once your stitching is complete, hand sew your background fabric (what will be seen behind your cutwork on the front) to your top piece. Then hand or machine sew your front and back pieces together, right sides together, leaving an opening for inserting your emery pouch. Be careful not to sew over your buttonhole edge!


Step 1: Sew Background Fabric to Top and Sew Outer Sides Together

Your emery pouch should be made from very thick, very tightly woven fabric. Our kit includes a slightly stretchy tightly knit fabric that will not let the emery escape and will self-heal despite needles being run through it. You will sew these two pieces together, right sides together, leaving an opening for filling it with emery once turned right sides out. A funnel will come in handy when filling it!


Step 2: Sew Emery Cushion, Fill with Emery, and Sew Closed
You may need a kitten to help you with this step.

Once filled with emery, hand sew the cushion closed tightly, then insert it into your outer pouch. Hand sew your outer pouch together neatly and tightly to complete your pincushion.


Step 3: Insert Emery Cushion and Sew Outer Pouch Closed


Step 4: Enjoy your Finished Pincushion

Pincushion Kit Pincushion Kit

More Hardanger Pincushion Kits!

Biscornu Finish

Biscornu are intriguing shapes often used for pincushions. There is no shortage of large and small biscornu patterns available.


Click to Enlarge

The Nordic Needle 15 minute stitchers are having fun stitching these little treasures and creating mini pincushions. The smallest, cross stitched biscornu, is from an old Cross Stitch and Needlework magazine, Volume 7, Issue 6.

Wood Pincushion

Putting it together was pretty straight forward, nice, illustrated directions were given with pattern. In a nutshell, you have two same size squares of finished needlework. You will offset the sides and sew them together, working the corners as turning points. Most patterns will have you stitch an outside row of cross stitch (if that is the technique you are using) or double running stitch. This gives you a sturdy thread line to “bite” into or stitch through when putting the parts together. Basically a whip stitch, catching only the threads and not the fabric itself.


Sewing Your Biscornu Together

This little bit of handwork can be fun, you see the piece starting to take shape as you round the first corner. The slightly larger, embroidered biscornu is from the booklet Teach Yourself to Make Biscornu. The directions are clear and concise. Add this booklet to your stitching library and plan on making them all!

Wood Pincushion

Custom Pins

Now that you have all of these awesome pincushions (or ideas for pincushions) why not add some custom counting pins? They are easy to make, but be forewarned: making them can be addicting!

You’ll need:

The longer the pin the better, most sewing stores stock these. Dab a bit of glue towards the top of the pin shaft. Slide a tiny seed bead (if desired to the top), next slide your main bead or treasure on. Dab a bit of glue at the base of this bead for security.

Counting Pins

Creating your Custom Counting Pins

If your pin is long enough you can add another bead or even a sequin. Let dry, inverting them (gravity) will help persuade the beads to stay put until glue is set.

Counting Pins

Let Gravity Help Set your Pins

Mill Hill beads and treasures work wonderful for customizing pins. Choose the smallest seed bead available ensuring that it won’t pop off the top of your pin. With treasures, make sure they are channeled (the hole is drilled vertically through the treasure rather than manufactured like a sew on button). Some favorites include the glass treasure channeled hearts and the petite flower treasures. They both come in a variety of colors.

Treasures Treasures Treasures Treasures

Favorite Treasures

Your custom pins can be used with bulletin boards, as counting pins, or just to decorate your pincushion.

We hope you have enjoyed this little parade of pincushion ideas. As you can see, combining passions for stitching and embroidery with sewing can make beautiful results.

We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

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