Flower Garden Patchwork Pin Cushion
Updated: May 2
Of all the textile crafts to try, I think patchwork is one of the best. It's perfect for people in lockdown, as you can pick it up and put it down whenever you feel like it and just do a little bit every now and again to help yourself unwind. My hand-worked pin cushion project is a gentle introduction - it's not difficult, and it fits in the palm of your hand which makes it manageable.
Patchwork has a long and fascinating history with different traditions related to time and place. It was hugely popular during the 'make-do and mend' era of World War II when there was little money to spare and scant access to new fabrics. People had to re-use whatever they had. Today we should be more aware than ever about the amount of textile waste that's created and patchwork is the ultimate upcycling project. Start with this small pin cushion and you'll soon be moving on to something more ambitious - like a quilt!
Paper patchwork hexagon templates - free from the internet. Click here.
You’ll need 14 paper templates in total. I used the 1 inch size.
Scraps of fabric for the patchwork – cottons and crisp fabric work especially well
Scissors, needle (sharp & fine) and thread. You may also want to use a thimble
Finely cut fabric scraps for stuffing
Gold cord for edging (optional) and gold thread if possible (any toning colour will do)
A dab of glue
Let’s get going!
1. Print and cut out your paper templates you’ll need seven for each side of the pincushion.
2. Cut your fabric to fit each template with enough excess to turn a 1cm border all the way around.When it comes to choosing the fabrics, think about having a contrasting colour in the centre of each ‘flower’.
3. Tack the fabric into place on each template pressing the fabric with your fingers as you go so it’s nice and crisp. The more precise you are the better the effect will be.
4. Now join the centre patch to another patch. Place right sides of the patches together. Knot your thread and slip the knot under the fold so it’s hidden. Use a tiny whip stitch to sew the two patches together picking up only the very edges of the fabric and trying not to go through the paper. Knot the thread at the end by going through a loop of thread twice. Only break the thread when you need to – sometimes you can line up another patch and continue sewing. Each time you line up a patch do it very carefully, matching ALL the edges. Continue until all the patches are joined up one by one. Complete your second flower in the same way. Take a look at my video for a bit of a demo!
5. Place the two flowers with right sides facing and whip stitch all the way around the edge (again, using as tiny a stitch as you can) leaving a gap of two patches so you can turn the fabric the right side out. As you sew, pay special attention to the points and the corners making sure they match and are sewn really neatly.
6. Snip the tacking threads and remove all the paper patches. Turn the right way out using your fingers to push out all the edges, and a knitting needle or pencil to gently reach into the corners.
7. Stuff the pincushion as much as you can with the fabric scraps, pushing into the corners and sewing up the opening as you go, using a tiny whip stitch on the edge. Leave a tiny hole if you're planning to add gold cord. If not, sew the whole pincushion shut. Either way, use your fingers to push the pincushion into as precise a shape as possible.
8. Measure out the amount of gold cord you need to sit around the edge of the pincushion leaving a little extra to be on the safe side. Put a tiny dab of glue on each end of the cord to stop it unravelling.
9. Stick the end of the cord into the tiny hole and stitch it all the way around the very edge of the pincushion. I do this by binding my thread over the top of the cord and picking up the edge of the fabric underneath with my needle.
10. Trim any remaining cord and poke back through the tiny hole in the pincushion. Sew up the remaining gap.
Beautiful! Well done!