Monday, December 10, 2012

Pinfeathers Pincushion Tutorial

I've finally gotten around to reproducing the tutorial on my own blog. It only took, um, almost a month... (yikes...) Someday I will miss these crazy, hectic, tiring days, right?!

He's a pincushion, plus a keeper of needles and little notions that are easily misplaced... very handy to have next to your sewing machine!

I used Riley Blake's Flutter collection for my pincushion. I love the bright colors of these fabrics, and their combination of floral/nature motifs and handwritten words makes this owl-shaped pincushion a bit unexpected, I think.

Here's how to make one for yourself!


- Fabric: about 1/8 yard each of 5 different fabrics (I used Riley Blake’s Flutter collection); scrap of orange felt; scrap of off-white felt; scrap of dark gray fabric

- fusible fleece or other heavyweight interfacing for wings

- lightweight interfacing for eyes, pocket, forehead

- fiberfill stuffing or ground walnut shells

- plastic pellets or rice to weight owl

- sewing machine, scissors, pinking shears, thread, pins, needle, printer

Step 1 - Cutting & Interfacing

1. Print pattern pieces, making sure page is set to print at 100% (in the print dialog box, choose “none” instead of “fit to printable area.”) Pin and cut pattern pieces, noting whether one or two are needed. Transfer markings to fabric: black triangles and black dots.

When cutting wing pieces (D), lay outside and inside fabrics RST, pin and cut. Then flip over wing pattern piece (D) when cutting opposite wing pieces.

Cut bottom eye pattern piece (F) with pinking shears to create a ruffled look.

Pinning wings, one side has fusible fleece ironed on

2. Iron lightweight interfacing to wrong side of forehead (A), eye-middle (G), eye-pupil (H), and outside piece of pocket (E). Iron fusible fleece to wrong side of outside piece of wings (see photo, above). On mine, I wanted the green fabric to be on the outside, so I ironed the fusible fleece to the two green wing pieces.

Figuring out where to place eyes, wings & beak

Step 2 - Owl Body

3. Match up top of forehead (A.) to top of body front (B.), pin and sew forehead to body, using a satin stitch along bottom, where indicated on pattern piece, from ear tip to tip. (I used a zig zag stitch, settings of 4.0 / 0.6. Anything closer together tended to pucker the fabric.)

4. Pin and sew beak to owl body front, covering up bottom of forehead. Refer to photo, above, for placement.

Sewing eyes to body

5. Stack eye pieces, largest to smallest (F, G, H), sew around each circle as shown in photo. Pin to owl on either side of beak, just under forehead and touching the top corners of beak (see photos for placement.) Sew just outside middle eye piece (G) to attach to body.

Pinning pocket, RST; pocket sewn to body, showing gap

6. Put two pockets pieces together, RST, sew around perimeter with 1/4” seam allowance, leaving about 1 inch open on bottom for turning (indicated by black dots on pattern.) Turn, pushing out corners with pointed but blunt object -- a knitting needle, or the wooden stick that comes in bags of fiberfill is ideal.

Top stitch only the top of pocket. Tuck edges of opening to inside, pin pocket to owl body, centering pocket in the middle and placing it about 1/4” below tip of beak. Pin, gapping top of pocket out slightly so it won’t become too tight once owl is stuffed (see photo). Sew to owl body just along edge of sides and bottom.
Topstitching wing (top); sewing "feather" lines (middle); finished wing (bottom)

Step 3 - Wings

7. Place wing pieces together, RST (fusible fleece will be on outside of one side), sew around edges, leaving flat side open. Turn, press, top stitch only around curved part of wings.

8. Sew lines for feathers. You can use the pattern as a template for placement, or just wing it (ha ha), as I did.

Wings pinned to body
Base pinned to bottom of body
Body all sewn up and turned right side out, showing opening for stuffing

Step 4 - The part that makes slogging through the not-so-fun sewing, seam ripping, and re-sewing all worth it!

9. Pin wings at sides of owl body front (flat, unsewn edge of wing will be even with outside edge of owl body — see photo, above), matching the edge of body with edge of wings. Place the top of wings slightly higher than top of pocket.

10. Pin front and back of owl body together, RST, sew with 1/4” seam allowance. Sew only around sides and top, leaving bottom open. Clip tips of ears.

11. Pin base to bottom of owl body, matching black triangles on pattern pieces. Make sure to insert feet in front where indicated by black triangle, facing the front of feet towards the inside. (See 2nd photo above, where the back of feet are peeking out.) Sew, leaving about 1 inch open for turning and stuffing, as indicated by black dots on pattern piece.

12. Turn, poke out ears, stuff with either fiberfill or crushed walnut shells. If using fiberfill, toss in a handful of plastic pellets at the bottom to weight it. Hand-sew opening shut.


This little guy is really useful. He’s a pincushion, he holds needles inside his wings, and he keeps little things in his pocket that are essential to the operation of the sewing machine, things that also seem to be irresistible to a toddler (personal experience here!), like bobbins and seam rippers. He’s also kinda cute!

Why owls? I've always had a thing for them ever since growing up in the house next to the woods in a fairly rural area in New York State. We'd often hear Great Horned Owls at night back in the woods, calling to each other.

We actually had wildlife-a-plenty around that house: foxes, deer wandering through our back yard, possums in the shrubs, snakes, giant green bugs, pheasants, and in recent years there have even been a few black bears raiding residents' bird feeders. And we had our own "wildlife": a flock of chickens, a few ducks, two geese and two goats, and my little brother and me, of course. :)

I never did see an owl in real life, except in zoos and rehabilitation centers, until very recently. Although I now live in the suburbs of a large city, I've seen three Great Horned Owls sitting on neighbors' rooftops... pretty cool, I think!


  1. hello
    thanks for the owl pincushion tutorial.
    In my blog you can see I have done pincushion.
    Thank you.

  2. Hello,

    This is adorable! I shared it this week at my Thanksgiving 30 Days of Gifts. You can see it here... :)


  3. I just made one of these fr my daughter in law, she will love it! One Christmas pressie complete...I'd post a picture here but I do not know how to do it....