Sewing Machine Pin Cushion

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Sewing Machine Pin Cushion

How to sew a sewing machine pin cushion

If your anything like me, you'll find yourself frequently surrounded by threads, fabrics, scissors and more, all scattered around the sewing machine. So it's not uncommon to knock off your pin cushion or strategically placed pile of pins. So, what could be better than to save yourself half an hour on your hands and knees hunting for the pin you could have sworn you heard dropping, by making yourself a sewing machine pin cushion.

What you'll need:

6 x 2 inch green cotton

3 x 3 inch cotton - i used red but your butterfly can be any colour you like.

Enough ribbon to be able tie around your sewing machine and easily make a bow

5 inches of elastic (thinner in width than your ribbon)

Any bits to decorate (embellish) your butterfly. I used a small amount of crushed velvet but you could use cotton/ribbons/buttons etc!

How To Make It

First off you want to draw yourself a butterfly and a leaf. Remember the leaf will be turned inside out and stuffed so you will lose a little length and quite a bit of width so make it fatter than you want it. Alternately you can always print screen and copy mine. Cut out 2 butterflies and 4 leaves. To make sure the fabric shape lines up perfectly I tend to cut 2 pieces of fabric together. If you think of the way they will sit once completed, you need to remember to have them facing opposite directions i.e. Backs together, patterns facing out rather than both backs down and patterns facing up.

Butterfly leaf template pattern

Next you want to add any detailing or embellishment. For this, I decorated the leaves by doing a simple machine feather stitch down the centre of the 2 leaves which will face up. I cut a small strip of crushed velvet and attached it the butterfly I wanted facing forward using a narrow zigzag stitch then trimmed the ends to match up. I then sewed 4 small circles to the wings the same way. To get perfect circles with my stitching I prefer to use a clear plastic sewing machine foot to see what I'm doing. I leave the needle down (always in an outer position - off the velvet - for circles) and lift the foot to move the fabric without loosing my place. I found if I did this every fourth time the needle pierced the fabric it came out perfectly symmetrical. Don't forget to do a small backstitch at the start and end to secure the stitching.

Adding dots to butterfly applique

I made the shapes 3D in different ways. I did this because stiching inside out then turning the right way around out usually gives a neater finish but can distort fine shapes. As the leaves are a fairly simple shape they were fine to sew inside out. I sewed near the edges with the patterns facing each other on the inside with a basic running stitch leaving a small opening, then turned it inside out like this:

Fabric leaf turned right side out

I stuffed it full of small cut scraps of fabric but stuffing will work fine too, then hand stitched the end with a ladder stitch (also known as an invisible seam - see my stitch guide for more info).

For the butterfly I didn't want the shape to be distorted so I used an over-edge stitch with an overcast foot, with the pattern sides both facing out. You can do it without the foot but I find that I tend to often get uneven stitches and thread knotted messes! Again, don't forget to leave an opening for putting scraps / stuffing in.

Butterfly sewing fabric shape

Once you have added the stuffing, push it as far down from the opening as you can, and use the same sewing machine stitch to finish up. Once done, redistribute the stuffing so it is equal inside. Sew the leaves to the back of the butterfly like so:

How to attach leaves sewing

Then attach the centre of the ribbon across the width of the back:

Adding ribbon to butterfly leaf sewing machine pin cushion

If you were to tie the ribbon around the sewing machine now, then you would likely find that it would sit too loose and start wiggling down as soon as you start sewing, so to avoid this, attach 2 1/2 inches of elastic to the ribbon on each side of the pin cushion. I started mine so the elastic would begin just around the side of the machine and once stretched end about 1/2 inch from the centre of the back of the machine. You may need to shorten you elastic if your machine is more streamline.

When you attach elastic I would recommend always starting the stitching with the elastic relaxed so that it is anchored to the ribbon with no strain on the initial stitches. Then pull the elastic as you feed the ribbon through the machine. You may find you have to gently pull the ribbon from the back or the elastic stops the feed dogs of the machine from pulling the ribbon through so you will keep stitching the same place. When you get near the end, again relax the elastic to sew. This way you are less likely to get the elastic ends separating from the ribbon. Definitely don't skip the backstitching at the start and end for this stage.

How to attach elastic to ribbon

Once sewn, if you have managed to distribute the pull of the elastic equally, the ribbon should curl up equally. If you have some parts which look curly and others flat, then you probably just didn't manage to keep a constant pressure or needed to control the ribbon feeding through from the back.

elastic added to ribbon

Now it's finished you just need to tie it to your machine. I would recommend double knotting the ribbon then doing a decorative bow on top to keep it in place. You may need to hold the first knot in place with 1 finger while you bring the second knot to it, to get a tight fastening. Add your pins then enjoy!

How to make a sewing machine pin cushion

free tutorial sewing machine pin cushion

We hope you enjoy our tutorials and love hearing what you think so please leave us a comment or send me an email to

Happy Sewing!

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