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Teacup Pincushion Tutorial

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Teacup Pincushion




 Although I’ve been a designer and seamstress for many years, I had never thought of pincushions in any way other than purely practical.  I have used them throughout my years of sewing, but they were just always there as part of my sewing room supplies, just like my scissors, iron, and tape measure.  Well, I recently discovered some beautiful pincushions and I was so inspired that I decided I’d make some of my own.  So, the first thing I saw when I was contemplating my new adventure was a couple of vintage teacups that I had picked up at the local thrift store.  And since they had no sentimental attachment for me, I thought I’d try making them into little pincushions with a bit of bling, glitz, and glam.  And now I’m hooked!

Who would have thought that a pincushion could be a collector’s item or decorative or an item to display in my sewing studio?  Well, now I know . . . . . and these pincushions are so much fun to make.  Quick and easy, they are perfect for a gift for mom or grandma, or for yourself as a special treat for all that you’ve accomplished in life.  So, if you have a teacup and saucer around your house (probably not Grandma’s antique china, though!) – or if you stop by your neighborhood thrift shop or antique shop, pick up two or three sets – let’s get started on your very own teacup pincushion!

Basic Supplies

 Vintage teacup and saucer

Fabric scraps

Ribbons scraps

Buttons, beads, lace, charms


Tacky Glue or Hot Glue Gun

Needle and Thread

Stick pins and various beads


STEP 1: Gather your supplies

Begin by choosing your fabric, ribbons, and trims.  Make sure you have a variety of coordinating notions to choose from.  Gather your supplies so you can begin creating your little masterpiece!

 STEP 2:  Cut out your fabric

Place your teacup upside down on your fabric.  Measure out 1 ½” – 2” from the outside edge, using a water soluble fabric / quilt marker.  Mark all around the outside edge, to make a circle that is a total of 3” – 4” larger in diameter than your cup.

 Cut out your circle of fabric.  This will be the main pincushion, and you will want it to be to correct size to fit inside of the teacup.

 STEP 3:  Stitch the gathering stitches on the circle of fabric

Set your sewing machine for the longest straight stitch possible.  On my machine that is a setting of 5.00 on a scale of 0 – 5.00.  If you prefer, you can hand gather all around the outside edge of the circle by taking ¼” stitches around the circle, approximately ¼” in from the edge.

Stitch the long running stitch all around the outside edge of the circle of fabric, approximately ¼” in from the edge.  For greater strength when closing up the circle for the top of the pincushion, I always run another long straight stitch all around the outside of the circle of fabric, approximately 3/8” in from the edge so that I have two rows of gathering stitches.  That way, if one row of stitching breaks, I still have another row of gathering stitches to work with.  This really does save time later on!

STEP 4:  Gather and stuff the circle of fabric

Now you will want to begin pulling the gathering stitches up on the circle of fabric to make a little “pouch” to put the stuffing into.  I begin by gathering it up just enough to hold the stuffing, and then I put as much stuffing into it as I can before I pull the gathering stitches up tight.

Keep putting as much stuffing as you can possibly get into the little “pouch,” and then GENTLY pull the gathering threads up as tightly as you can.

Keep stuffing . . . . and stuffing . . . . down into the little empty places around the edges . . . .

 Then begin to pull up the gathering threads, and you will still need to stuff even more polyfill into the pincushion top.  The more stuffing you can get in, the firmer the pincushion top will be.  This will make it prettier, but also easier to use.


 When I do my gathering, I usually pull up one side of the gathering stitch so that I have one side gathered.  Then I tie the threads on that end to keep it from “un-gathering” when I pull up the other side.  Pull it first from one side to the middle, and then the other side.  This minimizes the possibility of breaking a thread and having to start all over!


 When you have pulled your gathering stitches up as much as possible, tie the thread ends together to hold it in place.  Again, be very careful with your threads, so as not to break one of the gathering stitches.  Pull it up as tightly as you can, and you should still have an opening of approximately 1” – 2” that you will close up later.

Now you stuff even more polyfill into the pincushion top.  Keep stuffing, down into those little corners where the gathers are!

As long as there is room for even one more little “stuff,” go ahead and shove it in there!

STEP 5:  Closing the stuffing opening

Now you will need to cut a circle that is approximately 2” – 2 ½” around from your fabric.  This will be used to cover the opening in the bottom of your pincushion top.

Pin it in place, covering the opening and the gathering stitches, and hand stitch in place using an appliqué stitch.  The hand appliqué stitch is taken by coming up with your needle and thread from the bottom, through the piece you are stitching on (in this case the small circle).  Then go STRAIGHT down again, over the edge of the circle, into the fabric to which you are attaching the circle.  Go under that fabric for approximately ¼” and come up again, catching the edge of the small circle, and go down over the edge of the small circle into the pincushion top.  Continue this stitch all around the small circle to enclose the opening in the bottom of the pincushion top.

 STEP 6:  Gluing the pincushion top into the teacup

For this step, you can either use Tacky Glue or a hot glue gun.  With the Tacky Glue you will need to wait a few minutes to continue the project and add embellishments.  With a hot glue gun, you will be able to continue right away but two words of caution:

Be VERY careful not to burn yourself!

You will need to place the pincushion top into the teacup, accurately, very quickly as the hot glue dries almost instantaneously.  If you have any concerns about getting the top placed exactly where you want it on the first try, you might want to start with Tacky Glue as it allows you to remove and replace the pincushion top if you don’t get it right the first time.

 Place a line of glue all around the inside of the teacup, approximately ¼” from the top edge.  Be sure to use enough glue that the top of the pincushion will attach securely.  Carefully place the completed pincushion top into the teacup, adjusting it so that if completely fills the teacup and is centered and even.  You might need to “squish” the pincushion top either flatter or puffier, depending on the top of your teacup.  Just be sure that it isn’t lopsided or lumpy on one side!


 STEP 7:  Embellishing your pincushion

As soon as the pincushion top is securely attached to the teacup, it is time to begin the fun part of embellishment!  It might seem that it would be easier to embellish it before you put it into the teacup, but I discovered that if I tried to put on all the embellishments first, it didn’t always line up the way I wanted it to with the edge of the cup.  It really isn’t too difficult to stitch on a few ribbons, buttons, and beads once it is inserted into the teacup.

 Of course, you can embellish your pincushion any way you want, but here are a few ideas to get you started:  I took a sheer ribbon and wrapped it around my fingers a few times to make a bow.  Then I took three or four stitches right in the middle to hold it, and pulled the loops apart to make kind of a ribbon flower.  When I pulled the loops apart, I also twisted them to make it a bit fuller.


  Then I took some sage green grosgrain ribbon, about 1” wide, and cut a piece approximately 3” long.  Loop both ends forward to meet in the middle, making a point at the folded end.  Make two or three of these ribbon “leaves,” and press them flat.


 Hand stitch the leaves on first, and then stitch on a couple of curled ribbon “tendrils” to hang down from beneath your ribbon flower.




 Then stitch the ribbon flower on top of the leaves and curled “tendrils,” making sure that the leaves just peek out from the edges of the “petals” of the ribbon flower.


 If you want to add a button center on your ribbon flower, snip off the shank on the button and glue it right in the middle of the flower.

 Then add any other embellishments that you want!  I added a little butterfly button right on one of the leaves.


 Then I added three round pink crystal buttons to make some little “buds” by the leaves.

 And then I stitched on one wrapped pink bead, just for fun!  Glue the teacup pincushion to the saucer, and add a few buttons or small spools of thread . . . . or even a tiny pair of embroidery scissors, all around the base of the teacup.

If you want to make a few pretty stick pins to go with your pincushion, just take some pins that already have a large bead on top.  Then use your hot glue gun to add a few more beads either on the top of the bead on the straight pin, or add them underneath the bead that is on the top . . . . . or both!  You can also purchase fancy stick pins, but I always like to make my own.  They look really pretty stuck into your teacup pincushion!

And there you have your very own teacup pincushion!  What a fun gift for Mom or Grandma for Christmas, Mother’s Day, or a birthday . . . . . or just a gift to say, “I love you!”   Have fun with YOUR very own teacup pincushion.  And when you get it finished, please email me a picture of your masterpiece at AngelBabiesBoutitque@msn.com

 Hope to hear from you soon!     Nina of mamas*little*treasures

Here’s my “Ivory and Jade” Teacup Pincushion . . . what fun this one was with all the pearls, rhinestones, and gold accents in this sweet cup and saucer of a floral and paisley print, all in shades of light and dark green with just a touch of gold.




This is the Patchwork and Pearls pincushion created from a vintage ice cream cup and saucer. Use your imagination and create your own unique Teacup Pincushion!




Copyright 2008 by Nina Newton aka mamas*little*treasures.  All text and images contained herein are owned by and are copyright 2007 mamas*little*treasures.  None of the contents of this pattern eBook may be reproduced or republished.  This pattern is for the express and sole use of the customer for personal or home use, and may be used to create items for the customer to sell on his or her own.


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  1. Jessica

    This is so cute. Thank you so much for linking it to Totally Tutorial Tuesdays.


    1. Sandra Cook

      These teacup pincushions are absolutely beautiful! I will definitely be making me some of these. Thank you so much for sharing , I love crafts.

      1. Nina

        Hi Sandra – thank you for visiting my blog! If you have any questions when you are working on your teacup pincushion, please be sure and contact me. I would be happy to help in any way that I can. Would also love to see photos of your finished projects! Nina

  2. BeBetsy - Smashingly Good Living

    This is so much fun to take a vintage cup and saucer and make the cutest little pincushion! It turned out so wonderful – and perhaps full of memories if it is an item that passed through the generations!

    So glad you added it to your gallery at #simplybebetsy
    Sharon and Denise

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