The Handiness of a Tiny Pincushion, with Free Pattern

Sharp-eyed readers may notice some similarities between the covers of the books I’ve done: they all have sewing tools on the cover, and some tools feature on all three covers.

In particular, The Dressmaker’s Companion and Zero Waste Sewing have a round blue pincushion (the free pattern for which is here). I was very keen to have it again on the newest book, A Year of Zero Waste Sewing. However, the cover is much smaller and there wasn’t enough space.

A little look through the “maybe-one-day hexagonal quilt” scrap bag turned up a small amount of the original fabric.

I scrunched it into a mock-pincushion for the book’s concept art…

…and then decided to make a mini version.

I’ve been using the original pincushion since 2017 and was a bit shocked at how much the fabric had faded.

The pattern for the mini version is below, if you’d like to make one. It’s a bit fiddly to sew by machine, rather like making Barbie doll clothes, but you could sew it by hand.

How to:
1. Sew short ends of gusset together.
2. Pin quarter points of gusset to quarter points of circle. To match the raw edges, make tiny snips in the gusset.
3. Sew with the gusset uppermost.
4. Repeat with the other circle, but leave a gap to stuff.
5. Stuff and whipstitch gap shut.
6. Find 2 tiny buttons and stitch them on each side, taking the thread through the pincushion each time and pulling tight, so they nestle deep. (This step is fiddly too.)

But that’s not the end of the story! The other day, while someone had the hot glue gun out, I hot glue gunned a fridge magnet to the back of the mini pincushion, with the idea of sticking it to my sewing machine. I thought it would be a cute way to use the pincushion more.

Unfortunately there weren’t as many magnetic spots on the machine as I thought, but there were a few handy places like the dog feed lever, which is where I’m using it now.



  1. Janie Hampton on April 9, 2024 at 12:13 am

    I put patches of sticky-backed magnetic tile onto my machine for a few needles and pins. My bigger pin cushion has an elastic wrist band for while I’m sewing, at the machine or by hand. ( made from an old sock)

    • lizhaywood on April 9, 2024 at 3:25 pm

      Those are two good ideas 🙂 Where did you put the magnetic tile on your machine, and do you use it a lot?

  2. Chris Schwab on April 9, 2024 at 2:35 am

    Excellent idea! I made several small cushions years ago, but I put a small circle of elastic on mine so that I can put it on a finger… that way it is close to my hand when pinning fabric…on my second one, I put a small pice of plastic on the backside, inside the fabric cover, so that I don’t stick myself so often.

    • lizhaywood on April 9, 2024 at 2:45 pm

      On a finger! Brilliant!

  3. Janie Hampton on April 9, 2024 at 9:01 pm

    I stuck the thin rubber magnetic tile to the main column, facing me. Yes, I use it a lot, but it only holds a few pins and a couple of needles.

  4. Laurinda on April 10, 2024 at 5:28 am

    What a cute little pincushion!

    & I spy a Rocketeer! Mine is a 500; what’s yours?

    • lizhaywood on April 10, 2024 at 9:47 am

      Not a Rocketeer, but very close. It’s a 401G Slant-O-Matic. I didn’t know you owned a Rocketeer – a gorgeously designed machine.

  5. Laurinda on April 10, 2024 at 7:25 pm

    I thought all the Slant-o-matics were Rocketeers ‍♀️

    • lizhaywood on April 10, 2024 at 8:10 pm

      I just googled it: looks like Rocketeers are Slant-o-matics, but Slant-o-matics aren’t all necessarily Rocketeers. Mine looks like this. It doesn’t have the angled, streamlined shape of a Rocketeer. Probably all the accessories and parts are interchangeable though.

      • Laurinda on April 10, 2024 at 9:20 pm

        I learned something new today, thanks!
        But honestly? It looks so much like mine, that I’d have called it a Rocketeer anyway 😀

      • lizhaywood on April 11, 2024 at 10:07 am

        I learned something new too! 🙂

Leave a Comment