Pin cushion caddy tutorial

I’ve been thrilled with how some flickr groups I’ve joined lately have really encouraged my creativity.  One of those groups is
Bee a {modern} swapper.  Every other month for the next year, we will make two quilt blocks for one of our group members.  On the opposing months, there is a swap of a different sort.  The first is a pin cushion swap.  I have never made a pin cushion before (but it’s been on my to do list for some time; those tomato pin cushions are so uninspiring).  This gave me just the push (ha ha!  get it?  pincushion?  pins?  push?  Oh … nevermind) I needed.

Do you think I would keep it simple for my first project of this sort?  Oh no, of course I wouldn’t do that.  I had to go and pick one of the most complicated designs for a pincushion out there.  It turned out really well, though, so I hope my secret swap partner is pleased.

I had seen some pictures of a pin cushion caddy, and my secret swap partner had included a photo of one in her inspiration mosaic, so I decided to try my hand making one for her.  There is apparently a pattern for one in Anna Maria Horner‘s book, Seams to Me, but as I don’t own that book, I had to come up with a different plan.

I came across this tutorial on Penny’s Hands and saved it on Pinterest.  The concept is great, actually, and just what I needed, but Penny’s version uses the English paper piecing method and is sewn entirely by hand.  My sister thinks this is awesome, but hand sewing is just not my cup of tea (my cup of tea is most often chai tea, or some other sort of black tea with a flavor).  If you love that sort of thing, please, head over, and Penny will show you how to put it together.  If you’d rather have “date night” with your sewing machine, here’s how I modified her idea.

From thin cardboard (like a cereal box), cut:
6 rectangles, 4 inches x 2 inches
1 hexagon with 2 inch sides
(Note: Penny links to a website for hexagon template, I just used a protractor.  Draw a line, 2 inches long, from one end, use your protractor to draw another 2 inch line, intersecting at a 120-degree angle.  Continue this process around until your 6th line intersects the first line you drew.)

Use the cardboard hexagon to cut out a paper hexagon of the same size.  Fold the paper hexagon in half.

UPDATE: I created a printable PDF with hexagons of the proper size for this pincushion.

Click here: Hexagon Cutting Template PDF for Pincushion Caddy.

You are going to use the paper half hexagon to make a pattern for the outside pieces of your pincushion caddy.  Trace the half hexagon (I suppose we can call it a trapezoid, right?).  Now, from the lower, widest edge, draw a 2 inch line straight down from each bottom corner, perpendicular to that bottom edge.  Turn your half hexagon (trapezoid) 180-degrees so the corners are touching the ends of those 2-inch lines you just drew.  Trace around the three outside edges to complete a modified octagon.

UPDATE: This elongated hexagon/octagon shape can also be found on the printable cutting template PDF for this pincushion caddy.

Click here: Hexagon Cutting Template PDF for Pincushion Caddy.

Add 1/4 inch seam allowances all the way around.  Recommendation: I suggest you take in the two sides of this octagon pattern by 1/2 inch.  You can leave it as is, but your already large pincushion caddy will be ginormous.  I sewed mine up from pieces this size, but then didn’t like how wide it looked and ended up taking in those side seams by 1/2 inch to trim it down.

From fabric, cut:
6 modified octagons, using the pattern you just made
2 hexagons, using your original hexagon pattern (the non-extended one) and adding 1/4 inch seam allowances all the way around
6 rectangles, 2-1/2 inches x 9-1/2 inches

Fold the fabric rectangles in half, lengthwise, and press with your iron.  Now you will have 6 double-layer rectangles, 2-1/2 x 4-3/4 inches, with a fold on one short end.  These are going to be joined into a cylinder which will from the inside of your pincushion caddy.

Sew the six octagons together in a circle, leaving an opening at the top and bottom.  With right sides together, sew with a 1/4 inch seam allowance along one of the angled sides until you are 1/4 inch from the edge.  Leave the needle down in the fabric, lift the presser foot, and turn the fabric so you can continue to sew along the edge with a 1/4 seam allowance.

When you are finished, you will have something that looks like this.

Now, sew your folded fabric rectangles together, along the long side, to create a tube or cylinder.

Turn the outside of the pincushion caddy wrong side out.  Turn the inside of the pincushion caddy right side facing out.  Place the inside tube into the top of the outside portion of the pincushion.  The folded edges should line up with the top of the outside section.

Line up the seams of the six sections and sew around the top with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, joining the inside of the pincushion caddy to the outside of the pincushion caddy at the top.

Flip the whole thing inside out so that the right side of the outside of the pincushion caddy is facing out and the right side of the inside of the caddy is facing in (are you still with me?)

Flip the pincushion caddy upside down.  See how you just made 6 little pockets in that inner cylinder?  Stick your cardboard rectangles in there.

Phew!  Okay.  Almost done.

You should have one cardboard hexagon with 2 inch sides and two (slightly larger) fabric hexagons remaining.  Place the cardboard in the middle of the fabric hexagon that will go on the bottom of the caddy.  Iron the side over so that the fabric hexagon is the same size as the cardboard.  Remove the cardboard.

Now put some good craft glue on the cardboard hexagon.  Place the cardboard in the middle of the fabric hexagon that will be on the bottom of the inside of the caddy.  Fold the edge of the fabric over the cardboard and glue them down.  (I stuck mine between my cutting mat and the table and put something heavy on it until it dried.)

And now!  I’m sorry to say that the hand sewing can be avoided no longer.  Take the piece that will be on the bottom of your pincushion caddy and hand sew it on.  Be sure to catch the inside (just below the cardboard), outside and bottom pieces with your needle and thread.  I found it easiest to put about 4 pins in one side, sew that together, and then move on to the next section.  Be sure to leave one section open to fill your pincushion.

Now you’re ready to stuff your pincushion.  It was suggested to me to use crushed walnut shells, so that’s what I did.  You could also use rice or sand or plain ol’ polyfill (though your caddy will be much lighter with that one).

You can find crushed walnut shells at the pet store, in the bird section.  Pet store employees will think it strange when you tell them what you’re using the bird litter for.

Would you believe I don’t have a funnel in my house?  I use a rolled up notecard, secured with a piece of tape.

Hand sew up that last side, flip your pincushion caddy right side up and stick that fabric covered cardboard hexagon in the bottom.

Ta da!  Great job!

It’s too early to send this pincushion caddy out to my secret swap partner, so I’ve been using it next to my own sewing machine for a few days.  (sorry, partner, just breaking it in.  ha!)  I love it.  I’m going to have to make one for myself.  It’s great to throw my scissors and rotary cutter in there and it’s large enough that I can remove pins and jab them in there without having to look up from my sewing machine.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, please come like Sewing by Moonlight on Facebook and check out my Tutorials Page for more.

26 replies
  1. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:

    That’s gorgeous, nice work! My mom has a nice pincushion design that I saw when I was visiting recently. The pincushion is meant to sit at the side of your sewing table and anchor a small hanging bag (that’s attached to one side) – you can put scissors and other supplies in it, I thought it would be a nice collection site for all those little pieces of thread and fabric too. You could easily do the same thing with this bag.

  2. Kay L Ford-Sollimo
    Kay L Ford-Sollimo says:

    Just found this and it is definitely on the list! I think these would be great gifts for my mini-group. Might be a good project to use up decorator fabric samples.

  3. Jami
    Jami says:

    I love this pattern so much and how you did this! I am a beginner to quilting and I was wondering if maybe you could share how you made the sides that you pieced/patchworked? Thanks!

  4. Debi M
    Debi M says:

    Wish I had found your site before I did the whole tracing paper and elongating thing , and hand sewing thing. Although mine didnt turn out to bad. I used heavier cardboard and stuffing in mine.

  5. Linda
    Linda says:

    Many thanks for sharing this pattern. Just too cute & useful. I can see this as Christmas gifts for my quilting friends.

  6. patchwork
    patchwork says:

    est-ce possible d’avoir la description du tuto en français, merci d’avance, il est super


    This is really cute. Am I understanding correctly that I can use the templates you gave us in the PDF file with no adjustments?
    I am doing one right now but I am going to cheat and just make a tube from one piece of fabric for the inside. I will sew pockets for the cardboard pieces. Hope I’ve done the math right so all will fit together correctly, LOL.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] idea came from a blogsite called Sewing By Moonlight where they used found fabric.  Mine are digitally printed on organic cotton twill and stuffed […]

  2. […] got the idea and pattern  from a blog called Sewing by Moonlight . I worked out how to  customise the pattern  to make the whole caddy look like a  rather […]

  3. […] Patchwork diaper bag, 2. Baby pants with Heather Ross accents, 3. Pincushion caddy tutorial, 4. Double layer knit baby blanket, 5. quilt square pouch: sunset squared block, 6. Winter table […]

  4. […] jumped on board with a pin cushion swap and decided to write a tutorial for a pin cushion caddy.  It was one of the first posts on Sewing by Moonlight, and it is still regularly visited. […]

  5. […] joined the first month pin cushion swap, and that resulted in my Pin Cushion Caddy Tutorial.  We were asked to hold off mailing until closer to the end of the month, so I’ll send that […]

  6. […] all hand sewing and I tend to avoid “all hand sewing” when I can.  You know, like rewriting an entire tutorial because there was too much hand sewing!).  So from smallest to largest, I used a piece of interfacing to back the circle, a freezer paper […]

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