Sunday, September 23, 2012

Batting Pin Cushions

Do you find that batting scraps are multiplying when you leave the room? I know I do. What was once a small bag has now become a very large tote stuffed with scraps. These are not the large usable pieces. No, these are the less than 4” wide strips that we trim from the edges after we have quilted our quilt. So, here is what I am doing with them.

These lovely little pin cushions are made from rolled cotton batting strips which are covered with felted wool scraps. I have added some embellishments to the tops, but they can be left plain as well. They make wonderful gifts for your friends. So, if you’d like to see how I make them, read on. But I will warn you, this is a long post.

First, decide how tall you want your pincushion to be. I make mine between 1.5 and 3 inches tall, depending on the width of the strip. Trim the strips to your desired width. 
 I now have 4 strips and a very small pile of scraps. 
Hmmm, what to do with those?

Next, I decide how thick the pin cushion will be. For me, this is determined by the size of my Fiskars paper cutting template.

I cut two circles from a cereal box or similar weight paper board. These will become the bottom of my pin cushion.

Begin by rolling one of the narrow ends of the batting strip. You want this to be snug, but not so tight as to stretch the batting out of shape.  
 Continue rolling, keeping one side even, until the diameter of the roll is the same as the paper board circles cut previously.  Place the batting roll, even side down, on the table and tamp down the top. 

This will make the bottom flat. The top side can be a bit uneven.

 Now, it’s time to select our fabric. I like to choose a darker fabric for the bottom. My top fabric is usually lighter in color with minimal design. I found that even a subtle plaid competed with my embellishments. For the sides, anything goes. These were the fabrics I choose for the Pumpkin pin cushion.

  Measure the height and circumference of the batting roll.

 Add 1 inch to the height measurement and 1/2 inch to the circumference. Cut the side fabric to these dimensions. 
 Whip stitch one end of the side fabric to the batting roll. Wrap the fabric around the roll, folding under 1/4 inch at the unattached end.
Sew the folded end to the side fabric.
Thread the needle, double strand, and knot at the end. Run a gathering stitch around the top, 1/4 inch from the edge. Pull the threads to gather the fabric. Secure. Repeat for the bottom end of the batting roll. 
 Take the two paper board circles and glue them together.
Cut a circle of batting using the paperboard circles as a template. Baste the batting circle to the wrong side of the fabric that will be the top of your pin cushion. The stitching should be very close to the edge of the batting.
The basting stitches on the right side will indicate where the batting circle is. This is important if you plan to embellish the top. Keep your designs within the circle. Trim the fabric leaving 1/2” around the edge.
 Cut one or two small batting circles the size of the opening left after gathering the side fabric. (black circle) Set these aside for later. Embellish the top at this point. Once the top is finished, run a double strand gathering stitch 1/4 inch from the edge.
 Cut a circle of heat resistant Mylar using the paperboard circles as a template. Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles can also be used if you have them. Note: The heat resistant Mylar will become distorted if the temperature is too hot. Notice the warping that has occurred because I forgot to turn down the temperature on my iron.
 Place the Mylar circle over the batting on the wrong side of the top. Pull the gathering stitch until it is snug. DO NOT cut or secure the end thread.
Spray some starch in a small container. Using a small stencil brush, dab some of the starch around the edges of the top. DO NOT soak the fabric. You want just enough to give the fabric some memory. Press with an iron set at the correct temperature for the Mylar. Note: Wool takes longer to dry than cotton, so this step takes a bit of time.
Once, the wool is dry and cool, loosen the gathering stitches just enough to slip the Mylar circle out. Carefully, pull the gathering stitches to re-form the circle. Set aside. 
Cut a circle from the bottom fabric 1/2 inch larger than the paperboard circle.
Run a double strand gathering stitch 1/8 inch from the edge.
Pull the gathering stitch and secure the thread. You can press the edges if you like.
Place the bottom cover on the flat even end of the batting roll. With small stitches, attach the cover to the roll, giving a slight tug to pull the two pieces together.
Place the small batting circle(s) in the top to make it level. Place the top cover on the roll and secure as you did for the bottom.
I completed the top edges with a blanket stitch, one facing up and the other facing down.
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial.

Til next time,


  1. Nicely done tute with lots of visual aids!! Thanks once again for sharing your skills. Carol B