Monday, February 1, 2016

Victorian "Make Do" Pincushions

Another exhibit at our Quilt Show this year is Pincushions.  I've had this idea to make a "Make Do" pincushion for some time.
I saw a picture in a book written by Pilgrim and Roy about Victorian Crazy Quilts of a pin cushion made from a piece of broken stemware. The cup portion of the glass had been broken off and replaced by a velvet covered pin cushion.  The Authors called it a "Make Do" pin cushion.  I thought it was really quite charming. 
Here's my version.
Here's how I made it!
 I did not have a piece of broken stemware so I went to the Goodwill and bought this pretty candlestick holder for 99 cents!
It's not crystal but it will do....
First thing I had to do was figure out how to fill the top space with crushed walnut shell.  I decided to line it with a fine silk.
Then I filled it with the crushed shell, tamping it down tight as I filled it.

Then I gathered up the silk, tied it really tight and sniped it off the yardage.
I traced the top allowing for filler space.
Sewed that to another larger circle of silk and machine sewed a gathering stitch to the silk so I could gather it into a pouch shape.
Filled that with more walnut shell.
Pulled the gathering threads tight and tied it really tight.
Sized it to the size of the candle stick .
Stuck two very long Doll needles into the top to hold it to the bottom while I sewed the two pieces together.
I used an upholster's curved needle to sew the top to the bottom.
Added a strip of satin to the bottom edge to hide all of the mechanics.
Added some beads and a beaded dragon fly (store bought) for embellishment...
And ta da!  Victorian "Make Do" pin cushion!
It's almost to pretty to use!
I think I will use it to keep my hand sewing needles sorted from my regular straight pins.
The sewing needles tend to get lost amongst the pins in my regular pincushion. 
The whole thing took me about two hours.
I could definetly see making some of these for my sewing friends as gifts!
Have a great week!
Cheers, Claire W.


  1. And I know of atleast one sewing friend who would LOVE to receive one of those darling pin cushions as a gift!!!
    Adorable, Claire! I love how you embellished it.

  2. This is so beautiful. I love pincushions, and have lots of them. Hope to make one like this once.

  3. I really like your pincushion! My husband made me something similar with one of the little statues of a woman. He put velvet around her shoulders and I have neat pincushion. As you said "It'll do. Pam Gonzalez

  4. What a beautiful thing - you have got me looking through all my mismatched glassware!

  5. Great tips and helps! I never would have thought to pack down the walnut shells! for the bottom