Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tomato Pincushions from Morris Prints

Here's how to make a tomato pincushion from William Morris reprints, a curious combination of high and low culture that will amuse you and your friends.

You will need:
William Morris reprint fabric---one 10" x 10" square or larger.
Thread and needles for hand sewing.
About a yard of a thick thread like Perle cotton or yarn with a tapestry needle that fits.
Stuffing---cotton, wool roving, rice, sand, etc.
Scraps of felt for decoration.
Buttons, beads for decoration.White glue.
I started with 10" squares, a stack of Layer Cakes from Morris & Company, my latest line from Moda. You need a rectangle of bias so I cut across the square. The rectangle needs to be the perfect rectangle with a length twice as long as the width---the most I could get from a 10" square was a rectangle 4-1/2" x 9". I don't think a perfectly true bias (true diagonal) is too important.

I saved the triangles for other projects.

I also had some yardage of other lines. I cut 6" x 12" rectangles too. The larger the rectangle the bigger the pincushion.

Fold the rectangle in half to make a square with the wrong side out. Stitch a seam 1/4" from the open end. 

Turn it right side out.

You've made a tube.

Gather one end of the tube with a running stitch about 1/8" from the edge.
Stuff it with fiber or other pincushion material. I like wool roving.

Then gather the other edge and make a ball by pulling the thread.

Flatten the ball into a tomato shape by threading a needle with a heavy thread like a Perle cotton. Put a knot in the top (leave the thread tail hanging) and draw the thread through the middle. Add a knot at the other end when you like the shape. Don't clip the thread yet. Make loops around the outside of the tomato to define the lobes. This one has 8 threads creating 8 lobes. You can do 6 or 5 too.

Tie off the thread and clip. You will have some gathering showing top and bottom. For the top I cut leaves of felt and added something decorative to cover the knots and gathers. I like the felt leaves for needle storage.

I cut some felt circles and flowers and glued or stitched them on a few.

I looked through the button box and found a covered button just the right shade of green. Beads work well too.

It's fun to personalize them. They make great gifts for your Arts & Crafts-loving friends.

I found another crafts project that Willy might approve of. It has birds. Click here:

Marianne Lettieri has made a flag out of antique tomato pincushions


  1. I think i know where i can get some fabric for one or a dozen of these, so cute. Thanks for the tute

  2. thanks so much for sharing the directions. I can hardly wait to get started. Meg

  3. Wonderful idea for beautiful fabrics. I put my scraps in a basket, and great for small projects. I love that flag, really unique and creative.


  4. Great tutorial! I like the stack of pinnies!!

  5. Thank you for sharing this.
    They are cute.
    Gr. Ellie

  6. Thanks for this pattern. Is it possible to have permission to print this out for our local patchwork retreat? Carolyn P.
    Latrobe Valley Quilters, Australia