I used one my mother made me as a guide to make a few as gifts for Christmas. The plaid one in this picture is my kit, along with some supplies to make new ones.
They’re quite easy to make and a good use for the novelty fat quarter fabrics you bought because you couldn’t resist the cute patterns or fun colors! I found the hardest part was choosing which fabrics to use because I have quite a nice little stash.
The pincushion is reversible so you can choose two compatible fabrics and switch between having one as the outside and one as the pincushion. The original pincushion my mom made had safety pins between each of the spools of thread, which are strung on elastic. This is fine, but if you reverse the pincushion the safety pins will all be on the outside. It’s tedious, but I chose to stitch each of the thread pockets in place, leaving a gap for the elastic.
- Compass or one 10” and one 7” diameter plate or bowl to trace. Slightly smaller is ok, but to hold 12 small thread spools, the diameter should be no less than 9½” and the small plate should be 3” smaller in diameter than the large one.
- Cardboard to make a template (optional, but recommended if you're making more than one)
- 2 fat quarters or enough fabric to cut 4 10” circles
- 1 yard of ¼ inch double fold bias or ½ inch single fold, pressed in half
- 25 inches of ¼ inch or narrower flat elastic or thick elastic cord
- 12 small spools of thread. I found mine packaged as a set at Joanns. The spools used for this project are smaller than the small Coats and Clark thread, for example. I suppose you could alter the pattern to fit larger spools or the long spools of Mettler or Gutermann. The thread in the packaged set isn't the greatest but it works for mending.
- Cotton or wool stuffing or 50 grams of 100% wool yarn. Polyester stuffing dulls pins and needles. Yes, yarn works! I just stuffed a bunch of it inside and it worked just fine.
- 12 safety pins unless you’re sewing the pockets
- Tapestry needle if you’re sewing the pockets
Since I was making a few of these, I made a template out of card stock (actually, I recycled the cover from a booklet that was being thrown out). There are several marks to be made, so a template is a good idea.
To make the template, use the compass or trace the plate or bowl to draw the outer circle. Draw or trace the smaller circle inside the larger one. Now divide the circle into 12 sections. Tip: if you have a quilting ruler, it might be marked with a 30 or 60 degree line which you can use. Using a utility knife or scissors, cut slots on each of the 12 spokes. Cut the inner circle like a stencil so that the whole template doesn’t become distorted.
Use the template to cut 4 circles, 2 in each fabric if you are using contrasting fabrics. On one of the circles, mark the inner circle and each of the 12 spokes in chalk.
Match wrong sides together of the like fabrics and sew on the binding. I like to use my edge binding foot to sew on binding. I set the right edge of the binding against the metal edge of the foot and move the needle over to where I want to stitch. This works really well for skinny binding.
Now place both fabric circles together and stitch most of the way around the inner circle, leaving about a 2-2½” opening. Tip: start at one spoke and stitch around the circle to the 11th spoke. This will leave a gap and one spoke to sew after you’ve stuffed the center. If you plan to use safety pins between the threads, skip the next step and move on to the stuffing, otherwise, stitch the pockets. Stitch from the outer edge to the inner circle, but leave a gap for the elastic. You’ll have to do this in two steps, stitching one side of the gap and then the other.. Do not sew the 12th spoke opposite the opening.
Stuff the center with cotton fill or wool yarn. With a zipper foot, stitch the circle closed. Stitch the 12th spoke unless you’re using safety pins.
Now you’re ready to insert the thread spools.
If you are using safety pins, thread the spools onto the elastic and use the safety pins to make the pockets, being careful to pin around the elastic and not into it. The elastic needs to be able to pull through all of the spools so you can snug them up. If you’ve stitched the pockets, attach a safety pin to the end of the elastic and thread through one of the pockets, then load the thread spools. When you get to the last one, pull the elastic to snug up the spools. Use the safety pin to attach the ends of the elastic and then trim the excess elastic. Tip: Make the black spool the first one you insert and the white spool the last one so they’re near the ends of the elastic and can be replaced if needed.