Friday, September 28, 2012

Sew an old-fashioned tomato pincushion.

You can make all sorts of pincushions from scrap fabric you happen to have on hand.  They make a beautiful gift for anyone you know who likes to sew.  And don't think that just because they have one, they don't need another.  I have one near my regular sewing machine, one near my serger and one in my sewing basket, and there are still times when I feel like that isn't enough.  Of course, that's usually when I've forgotten to take one to whatever table I'm working at, but I digress.  The point is, anyone who sews would love another pincushion, and by raiding your fabric stash you can make one in their favorite color, or maybe in a color that would match their sewing box.  

Here's how to do it.
Start by cutting a piece of fabric on the bias. 
You can make it any size, just make sure it's twice as long as it is wide.
Mine was 6" x 12"
Fold it in half, right sides together and sew along the side using a 1/4" seam.
This forms the fabric into a tube, open at the top and the bottom.
Sew a running stitch around one end.
Pull this closed and knot it off.
Then run a few stitches through this gather.
This just reinforces it.
Next, turn it around and make running stitches around the other end.
Just make sure the thread comes out on the right side of the fabric.
Turn it right side out and fill with stuffing.
You can use regular fiber fill, but natural fiber fillings are kinder to your pins and needles.
When filling it, make sure you don't put too much in.  You want it nice and plump, but if you pack in too much it can become difficult to get the pins in quickly while you're sewing.
To help gauge, fill it as full as you want and then pull the threads to close the top.  If it's not full enough, open it up and add some more filling.  If you think it is full enough, stick a few pins in various places to make sure there's not too much stuffing for them to go in well.
Once you have it where you want, knot it off.
Then thread a long needle (I'm using a doll needle - available at places like Joann's or Hancock Fabrics) with some sort of thick thread.  I'm using pearl cotton embroidery thread.
Take off a nice long piece because you will be wrapping this around the pincushion to form the sections.
Draw the needle through the center of the pincushion, leaving a long enough tail on the other end that you won't risk pulling it through by mistake, and so you can tie the other end off.
*My thread was cut off the skein.  I just put the thread there so you could see it better.  I didn't realize until later that it looked like I had left it attached to the skein as I sewed.
Once you pull the thread through the pincushion, put the needle back through, slightly to the side of where you came out, pulling the thread until you flatten the pincushion slightly. Using the tail you left, knot it off, but don't cut either end of the thread yet.
Now we'll form the sections.  
Take the needle, that is now at the top of the pincushion, and wrapping the thread around the side, insert the needle back in the bottom of the pincushion.  Do this several times around the body of the pincushion, forming the sections. Odd numbers seam to be the most visually appealing, so I made five sections around this pincushion.  Knot it off using your tail.  Do not cut the threads yet, and leave your needle in as well.
Cut a star shaped piece of felt to make the cap for the top. Don't worry about being precise. In fact, it looks better if it's not perfect.
This is just an example - I didn't actually like any of the shades of green felt I had, so I made a cap out of another scrap of green fabric that better complimented the color of the "tomato".

If you want to do it the way I did, you need to apply fusible fleece to the wrong side of a small piece of fabric (about 4"x4") and, using fusible web, attach the wrong side of another piece of the fabric to the fleece side of the part you just made; in essence, sandwiching the fleece between the two layers of fabric.  Draw a star and use a narrow, close zig-zag, or a satin stitch to sew around the star, then cut it out. 
In all honesty though, if I had the right color of felt, I certainly wouldn't have gone to this much trouble for the cap, despite how nice I thought it turned out.
I'm sorry - please excuse the lighting change, which resulted in poorer photos.  A storm blew in and I lost all of my natural light.
To attach the cap, put your needle through the center of the cap and then push the cap onto the top of the tomato.  The tail thread will hang out from between the cap and cushion.  
Stitch the cap in place (I just go back through the entire tomato a couple of times).
For the record, if you ever have trouble getting the needle through, you can use something firm to help.  
Here I turned the pincushion over in order to use the table to push the cushion down onto the needle.  I wouldn't do this on a nice table top though. :)
You may also have a bit of trouble on occasion with pulling the needle out.  If you do, a needle pull (the small disk to the right in the picture) can help you get a better grasp on the needle.  If you don't have one (I've found them in the quilting section of the fabric store) you could use a small piece of non-slip shelf liner.
On the last stitch, push the needle out between the cap and the cushion, near where your tail is,
and knot it off, clipping the ends of the thread close to the knot.
Add a couple of pins and it's ready to go.

Now, while I was busy in the sewing room, Bree was busy in the kitchen.
Don't these look delicious?
You will just have to excuse me - this one has my name all over it.

I've linked this post with the Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest
I'm so pleased to have been chosen as one of their featured posts last week.  You should check it out.  There are plenty of good ideas being shared over there. 

I've also linked with the Homestead Barn Hop.  There is always plenty to be learned there too.

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  1. This is just too cute! I'd make these for friends in a heart beat! :-)

    1. Thank you. They do make a nice gift. I've given away several pincushions.