Learning how to sew is a mindful yet practical pursuit that can give you hours of joy, some interesting challenges, and a home full of DIY soft furnishings or new clothes you can feel great about, having made them yourself.
If you’re new to the pastime, learning how to sew a pin cushion is a great place to start. The method to make the circular pin cushion below is a relatively easy, step-by-step process. If you already know your way around a thimble, you’ll know you can never have too many pin cushions and should be able to whip through our guide in no time to create something beautiful and functional — the pillars of sewing.
Pins are a vital part of your sewing kit — and if you don’t want to be forever pricking your finger as you scrabble around for another one, a pin cushion is a delightful solution passed down through generations of seamstresses.
For this make, you won’t need much equipment.
- Tailors’ chalk
- Quick unpick
- Tape measure
- Sketching paper
- Pattern paper
- 125cm of fabric*
- Fibre filling, for stuffing
*You can pick any fabric you like for your new pin cushion — although it’s advisable to pick a heavy fabric and avoid anything delicate such as silk, chiffon or lace.
You won’t need much fabric for this relatively small item. For that reason, we recommend using offcuts from a previous project or that you’ve picked up from a haberdashery. This saves fabric wastage — and saves you some pennies!
Here are some great fabric options for your new pin cushion:
- Wool tweed
- Denim or corduroy
The fabric won’t need much preparation before cutting either. Unlike in the creation of clothing and dressmaking, there’s no need to account for shrinkage of your fabric in advance of cutting the pattern, as the fabric of your pin cushion will not be put through too much wear and tear, washing or dry cleaning.
You’ll need to grasp two techniques for this make: circular sewing and the whip stitch.
Circular sewing is straightforward stitching around a non-straight edge. It takes some practice to perfect but is helped by a steady hand and smooth guidance of fabric around the curve. Try drawing an ‘S’ shape onto scrap fabric and following its curvature before having a go on your pin cushion.
We’ll guide you through the slightly more complex hand whip stitch. A whip stitch is made by whipping the thread around the seam. It is ideal for closing gaps in fabric, especially on stuffed items such as toys, pillows and — you guessed it — pin cushions.
How to Sew a Hand Whip Stitch
- Thread your needle and make a knot at the end.
- Insert your needle close to the seam and pull it through the other side.
- Bring your needle up and over the fabric.
- Insert your needle again, close to the previous stitch, and pull it through.
- Repeat this process until you reach the end of the fabric or seam you need to close.
With the techniques and materials covered, it’s onto the simple six-step method that’ll guide you through the creation of your new pin cushion.
How to Sew a Pin Cushion
- Use your protractor to trace a semi-circle onto your pattern paper and cut this out. This will be the pattern piece for your pin cushion.
- Fold your fabric right sides together with the selvages — the narrow end of the fabric which looks woven and prevents unravelling — together at the top.
- Lay the pattern piece on the fold, pin it to the fabric and cut out two identical pieces of fabric on the fold. You can use tailors’ chalk here to outline before cutting, if you choose.
- Sew the two pieces, right sides together, using the circular sewing technique, leaving a 7.62cm opening.
- Turn the fabric and stuff the pin cushion cover with your fibre filling.
- Pin the opening together and close the gap with a hand whip stitch.
Voila! You have learned how to sew a pin cushion!
You can have a lot of fun with variations on this standard circular pin cushion design. You can vary the shape, fabric, decorative elements, and even try out different types of stitching as you gain confidence.
We love this donut-shaped pin cushion. Items like these are invariably small but staple best-sellers for seamstresses, so it’s worth spending some time perfecting the practice and then getting creative.
Put a pin in this method for later — after all, a good seamstress knows you can never have too many pin cushions!