Pins & Needles


Bold, bright and beautiful. This delightful pincushion, designed by Jill Gordon, is a must for any workbox.

What a superb treat! This is a project that you can really put your heart into - and onto!

This quick and easy design is perfect for novice stitchers, and is a wonderful way to brighten up your workbox.

It's an original, as well as practical idea for a gift for anyone who is interested in stitching - and is great fun to make too.

The technique used is called appliqué and the stitches used include couching and running stitch. The whole project - including the tassels -takes just a couple of hours to complete. You can alter the colours of the fabric to please your taste, although I love the combination of bright red, purple and green.

So get rid of that dowdy - old pincushion that has no doubt been hanging around your workbox for years, and give your, or your friends,' pins and needles a bright and beautiful new home!

You will need:

• Scraps of fabric — 7 x 7in (18 x 18cm), green, red, mauve and red spot
• Stranded cotton — orange, red, mauve, green and blue
• Crewel embroidery needle — size 7
• Buttons — four red and one green
• Beads — four navy plastic beads with a large hole
• Bondaweb
• Pinking shears
• Tracing paper
• Pencil
• Usual sewing kit — including pins, sewing needles and scissors
• Sewing cotton — to match fabric
• Stuffing

How to work the design

1. First, with a pencil, draw the heart shape on to the bondaweb backing paper and roughly cut round it. Iron this on to the red spot fabric. Now cut round the pencil line.

2. Next, cut a 5in (13cm) square from the bondaweb and iron this onto the mauve fabric. Now cut a 47/8in (11.8cm) square of the fabric using pinking shears.

3. Iron the mauve fabric on to the green fabric, placing the mauve square so it makes a diamond shape in the centre of the green fabric.

4. Now iron the red heart on to the centre of the mauve diamond. Work a running stitch, using three strands of orange stranded cotton around the edge of the mauve diamond. Stitch a star in two strands of red stranded cotton in each of the diamond points.

5. Couch stitch six strands of green stranded cotton, with three strands of blue stranded cotton round the edge of the heart making sure that you cover the raw edge.

6. Next, attach the button in the centre of the red heart with three lengths of mauve stranded cotton. If you are unsure of what to do at any stage, refer to the photograph.

7. Finally, add the four red buttons in each of the corners of the green fabric using blue stranded cotton.

Now all you have to do is to add the red tassels and your pincushion is complete.


Making up the pincushion

1. With right sides together, sew around the edge of the green and red squares using a 1/2in (13mm) seam allowance, leaving a 41n (10cm) gap in one side for turning and stuffing.

2. Trim the edges and turn out the right way. Cut 20, 6in lengths of orange stranded cotton. Take five lengths and fold in half, tie a knot in one end and thread a bead onto the knot.  Attach a tassel to each corner of the pincushion.

3. Fill the cushion with stuffing until it feels firm.  Slip stitch the opening closed.

pin cushion design
pin cushion
needle & thread


Bring the laid thread up at the edge of the design line. Bring the couching thread up just beyond this. Manipulate the laid thread into position and work small, vertical stitches over it.

Bright Idea

I know how much you're going to love this design, so how about turning your smaller pincushion into a larger seat cushion, or cushions. They would inject life and colour
wherever they happened to land! A great idea for a gift — you could even create a matching set.

Simply scale up the pincushion design to the size you require and follow the same instructions for the pincushion, leaving out the tassels.

pin cushion

Did you know?

Traditionally, pincushions are filled with bran to keep pins and needles sharp. Or you could use unwashed sheep's wool — this contains lanolin which stops rust.
Be warned though, it does tend to smell a bit!

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