Thursday, 12 November 2009

A little Saucer-y pincushion tutorial!

Remember these pretty saucers I picked up the other week?
Op shops are full of odds and ends just waiting to be matched up or become useful again. Odd saucers are one of those things that you can usually pick up for very little. They are pretty and charming but without the teacup, they are often left to collect dust. I have seen teacup pin cushions got an idea for a handy little saucer pincushion that can hold the little bits and pieces needed for some hand sewing.

Here's the tute you didn't ask for or want or need but I made anyway lol.

You will need:
Electric drill (preferably with hubby attached to the handle)
Masonry/tile/glass drill bit
Masking tape
Strong thread
Fabric scrap
LONG needle.
Stuffing (polyfil, scrap fill or naturefil)

1. Find a pretty saucer, I recommend garage sales, fetes or Op shops. It doesn't matter if it has a little chip or two. Make sure it isn't a valuable antique so the collectors don't come after you or me with a pitchfork! The ones I used have transfers that are a bit scratched or worn and a tiny chip here or there. That doesn't worry me but it is up to you.
2. Find a fabric to match. Try and use a pattern or colour similar to the saucer or even a fabric the same vintage if you can. I have used quilting cotton and some vintage chintz scraps.

3. Trace around the saucer, about 1-2cm from the edge. This will give you a cushion about the right dimensions.

4.  Using a strong doubled thread, fold the edge of the circle over a little and stitch in and out around the edge, just like you would to make a fabric yo-yo.

5. When you reach where you started, gather the circle by gently pulling the thread. Fill the inside with whatever fill you prefer. I used fabric fluff and scrappy bits for the first one. I made an inner puff from fleece to keep the surface smooth. It looks a bit like a Chinese dumpling or dim sim :). The others have regular polyester fibrefil. I might keep more scrappy bits for filling I think. That way you could have all cotton stuffing too and be extra green if you wished.


5. Pull the thread tight to close the cushion and stitch it tight.

6. Put a cross of masking tape on the front and back of your saucer and mark the centre. The masking tape will stop the drill slipping and also support the saucer.  There are two ways of securing the pincushion to the plate. One of them is NOT glue (read how not to do it below).
First method requires that the underside of the saucer has a rim that will sit over a button and still sit flush.
The second method is to drill two holes in the saucer as though it were a button.
 Either way, mark the holes to drill, either one centered hole, or two holes either side of the center mark. Don't make these too close together. About 1cm apart worked for me.
Use your husband's grotty drill (ask him nicely and he might do it for you) or your own if you have one, and a drill bit suitable for cutting tile. China is VERY tough! I tried a regular masonry bit and that took forever with the first plate. I got a glass/tile bit from the hardware store which worked a treat.

Don't push too hard or go too fast.  Just a steady moderate pressure and speed.
Place a wood scrap underneath so you don't damage your work surface as it goes through, and wear protective eyewear. Also, be prepared for the saucer to crack. Mine were all fine apart from some fine hairline cracks in the glaze on one, but be prepared for it to turn into your next mosaic project :)

7. Stitch a button down through the centre of the pincushion. Stitch through a couple of times and tie off underneath but don't cut the thread.

8a.If you are using a button under the saucer, pass the needle through the saucer hole, through one button hole, then back through the other button hole and back through the saucer. Take it up through the button on top of the pin cushion. This is why you need a nice long needle. It is tricky to find the button hole on the other side, but manageable. Do this a coule of times, or once if you get impatient. lol When finishing off, go down through the top button but not through the saucer. Come out as close to the center underside as you can and tie off.

8b. If you are using two holes on the saucer, pass the needle through in the same way, but it is a bit easier to just tie off on the threads between the holes on the saucer bottom, then thread the needle back through the pincushion. Push the cushion down around the thread and snip so the end disappears when you let go of the cushion.

Yes, these two holes are a bit off centre but it is fine on the other side. This saucer is much shallower underneath as you can see, so I had to drill the second hole after I realised the button wouldn't work.

So there you have it, a saucer pincushion ready for service.

It will keep the bibs and bobs and from buttons rolling away and look pretty at the same time. Another option is to add elastic loops under the cushion so it will hold onto your thread of scissors.

I thought these would also look cute with a little petit four fabric or felt cake pin cushion. Have fun!
Copyright - Just in
Please don't copy this tute elsewhere in any form, printed or electronic. I am happy for you to use a single pic with a link back to this tute if you like. Make as many pincushions as you can personally  for gifts and personal use. If you can sell them as a WAHM with a market stall or online, good luck to you.
Most of all, I would love to see what you make, or anyone at all to just give it a go!

What NOT to do ;)
 When I think of craft and glue, I think of the lowest form of crafting. I hate to use glue to hold things together when there is a better more secure way. In this case, I tried drilling a plate so the cushion could be secured with a large button acting as a washer on the saucer underside. That did work, however, the amount of time it took to drill bone china, even using DH hammer drill with a masonry bit took the shine off (and made the bit blunt after just one plate). In my frustration I glued the pincushions onto the saucers.At least if it does turn out to be the Queens best china, it can be removed again with minimal damage.
However, 5 mins with my quality control staff (2yo DD) and they looked like this, quite pretty really, but not quite what I had in mind. It would have to be a special glue that could handle glazed china and fabric, definitely not your average craft glue :P


  1. ohh you are so clever - they look great!

  2. Well, they are cute! Thanks for the tute.

  3. What a great idea, will have to add it to my to do list!

  4. Oh ace!! A very good idea :D Thanks for sharing!

  5. Helen - I bought the plate that you used for the pics!!! What a thrill to see it in production! I now realise it is YOU making the gorgeous Enid Gilchrist pinnies that I love so much... you clever lady!

  6. Oh how cool! which plate did you buy? (I sold both I had there). Thankyou! I'm not the only pinnie maker but I do really love that pattern and drafting vintage Enid patterns.

  7. Thank you Helen for this cool pincushion tutorial. I've just finished my first and can't wait to hear from my niece when she opens her present. You can see it here:

  8. I am visiting from Rose Anne's blog where she posted a pin cushion she made using your tutorial. Thank you for sharing this with us. I do have a tip for extending the life of the drill bit. Use a shallow dish of water to submerge the saucer in. Just deep enough to cover the surface. When drilling use steady pressure but don't push too hard. The water keeps the saucer and drill bit cool, lessening the chance of breakage. I agree about using glue, the button is cuter anyways!

  9. Thankyou for posting your link Rose Anne, it's so nice to see another made. I hope your Niece loves it too.

    Deb, good tip. I do use water in the saucer to keep it cool. My engineering Hubby taught me that too. I am also now using his mammoth cast iron drill press that is nearly as tall as me. It is much easier to get a centered hole without slipping which is much more important when drilling plates for cake stands.
    I also use a diamond bit too. I found that the bits are cheaper to buy from a tile supply store rather than a hardware store, by a few $$. Worth trying there first.

    Thankyou for taking the time to stop by and comment :)