Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hexie Pincushion

Ever since I started English paper piecing, over a year now, I've been wanting a small, stable pincushion to park my threaded needle while I prepare the piece for stitching. I looked at a lot of pincushion patterns, but nothing seemed right. Yesterday I was looking at old cross stitch patterns when I found this pincushion pattern in the July 1997 issue (Number 75) of Needlecraft magazine from the U.K. They made theirs from 1" hexagons, but I scaled it down to 1/2" hexies. I also added some quilting to the top!

I am really happy with how it turned out, but it took some doing! I started with some scraps of Kaffe fabric from my scrap bin:

The one on the right is the Lichen print, which is now out of production. This was my very last bit. If anyone from Westminster reads this, please bring it back! It looks a little scary on the bolt, but it is magic when it's cut.

The green on the left, by the way, was not a big enough piece, so I used a larger scrap of green Millefiore instead.

I was disappointed with how the middle fabric (it's Kirman) turned out after it was cut and stitched. The hexagon shapes are a little lost. I put that one on the bottom! The one on the right, the Lichen, came out great:

The pattern says to attach the side pieces to the bottom flower, but I could see in the magazine photos that this makes the join visible around the top. So I attached the side pieces to the top flower. Here it is with the 1/2 squares inserted between the side hexagons:

At this point I took the paper pieces out of the centre flower and sandwiched it with batting and muslin. It is quilted with #8 perle cotton. Then I carefully (!) trimmed away the extra batting and muslin:

FYI, this is my first completed, hand quilted project! It is so small that I didn't need to do a proper quilting stitch on it, but I am counting it towards my New Year's resolution nevertheless!

The big challenge was joining the top and bottom together. Holding the pieces right sides together, I first sewed five of the side hexagons into the "V"s in the bottom, and then went back and joined in the four squares between them. This left two squares and one hexagon unsewn. I took out all the paper except the ones around the opening, and turned the piece right side out.

I closed up one square and the last hexagon, wrong sides together with tiny whip stitches, removing the papers as I went. That left just one square open. Then I used a paper funnel and filled the pincushion with lentils to give it stability, removed the last paper, and whip stitched the opening closed. I'm sorry there are no photos of the final assembly, at that point it was getting late and I just wanted to finish it! However, you can see the join in the first picture, which is not really what I planned, lol!

The magazine says the project can be completed in an evening, but it took me a solid eight hours. A lot of that time was spent scrounging around for materials, cutting the paper 1/2" squares, etc. The quilting was at most an extra hour. I'm sure a larger one would be easier to manage! Here's a final photo to show the scale:

What a refreshing change for me to have a quick finish!


  1. Not sure I totally follow this, but want to try it for myself. The photo (fifth set down) that shows the pieces with the batting on them - is this the total pincushion before sewing the pieces into a rounded shape? Or is there another piece of fabric fitted across the bottom? What is the approximate finished size of the pincushion?

    Turned out cute as a bug's ear!

    1. Thanks very much, Mary Ellen! I know the photos skipped a few steps at the end. The sandwiched and quilted part is just the top and sides, as shown in the photo above that. It is still flat at that point. After quilting, the bottom flower (made from the Kirman fabric) is attached and it starts to take on the rounded shape. That's when it gets tricky!

      In the finished piece the bottom flower mirrors the top flower. After stuffing the diameter across the top is less than three inches.

      If there is demand I may do a proper tutorial, maybe with bigger hexagons!

    2. Okay, now I understand. I was wondering about the finished size since I might try it with the 1" hexies. Seems more manageable to me. But if it turns out to be the size of a grapefruit, I will use the smaller hexies as you did.

    3. LOL! I would expect 1" hexagons to make a pincushion that is around 5.5" to 6". If I do another I may use my leftover 3/4" hexagons. I think that would finish at around 4.5".

      I hope it works out!

  2. You've reminded me of hexagon pincushions I used to make when I was a little girl. The pattern was similar to this. I love the fabrics you've used and fun to see the big quilting stitches.

    1. Thanks so much, Rachael! You got an early start if you were sewing hexagons when you were little! I love projects with the big perle cotton quilting too, I have to drum up some more!

  3. good little pin cushion, really too nice to stick pins into. Thanks for the info of how to make one of these, think I will have to have a go, it is the cutting out of the fabrics and papers which puts me off the more i think about it the more I wonder whether I can justify a big shot machine to cut them out think not if I am honest with myself

  4. Really great, Monica, terrific colours, helpful outline of process and a most attractive result. Now this I think I could manage! I've added it to my list of things to have a go at.

    1. Thanks very much, Jillian. I can't wait to see your version!

      Yesterday I swore I wouldn't make another, but today I have been using it, and it is so handy that I think I could benefit from another. We'll see... I'm sure the second one will be easier now that all the bugs are out.


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