Teacup pincushion 2: a quick but cute embroidery project

How to embroider the teacup pincushion

This teacup pincushion was stitched in various surface embroidery stitches, which I didn’t plan in advance. It depended partly on which thread I chose at the time, and the look I wanted. I planned it to be quite simple, but not boring to do!

Teacup 6

The whole motif is about three inches across. I outlined the leaves and petals first with split stitch with one strand, and then stitched the flower leaves in vandyke stitch. The berry leaves were padded first with satin stitch worked from tip to base, and then another layer of satin stitch worked over the top, up to the tip and down the other side, following the angle of the veins of each leaf. You can see, in the picture below, some of the leaves are completed, and some have just the outlining and base layer of satin stitch done.

Teacup 7


Teacup 8

The flower petals were stitched in long and short stitch, with straight stitch highlights using the darker pinks. Fly stitches in dark pink were worked around the tips of some petals for contrast. The flower centres are a French knot. I stitched the stems in stem stitch, and the ‘floating’ little leaves near the pink flowers are individual lazy daisy stitches.

Teacup 9

For the berries, I outlined the shapes with split stitch, filling them with satin stitch (in case the beads didn’t cover the fabric completely, and also to give a slightly padded look). Then I stitched on a mixture of clear and frosted glass beads for the berries, very close together, so that they ‘heaped up’ on top of each other, to look more rounded. I used six shades of beads, both frosted and clear, to make realistic berries.

List of threads for the pincushion

In case you’d like to make something similar to mine, here is a list of the threads I used (where known):

Rajmahal 94 Soft gold – flower centres

Silk N Colors 1057 Once upon a rose – pale pink flowers

Silk N Colors 1056 Mayfair – highlights on the pink flower centres

Gentle Art 0511 Country redwood – flower petal tip highlights, berry satin stitch and attaching beads

Oliver Twists Fine Cotton 001 – berry leaves

House of Embroidery Perle 12 (dark variegated green – exact shade not known) – berry stems

Silk N colors 9713 Desert moss – pink flower leaf stems, and fly stitches around the yellow French knots used for the flower centre

Gloriana silk floss (variegated green – exact shade not known) – leaves on the pink flowers

Beads used (all by Mill Hill):

Frosted 62056 Plum

Frosted 62032 Bright red

Antique 03033 Metallic maroon

Glass 00367 Wine

Frosted 60367 Dark red

Glass 02034 Deep orange


How to assemble the teacup pincushion

When the embroidery was finished, I cut the fabric to the diameter of the cup plus 2 inches all round. Then I worked a line of running stitch around the edge of the fabric with Perle 12 thread as it’s very strong, pulling up the thread to gather the fabric into a puff, and stuffing with ‘2 ounce’ quilting wadding pulled apart into small pieces just before backstitching to close off the fabric ball. I wanted the pincushion to be quite hard, and not ‘deflate’ when I started to use it, so I used quite a lot of wadding. This part got quite complicated (one of those times when you can’t take photos, as you don’t have any hands left to operate the camera!

I had tested the ball of fabric in the cup for the estimated finished height before fastening off the thread end, as some teacup pincushions I’ve seen have looked a bit strange if they sit far too low or far too high in the cup! From ones I had seen online, and descriptions on other blogs of how to finish these teacup pincushions, I had planned to put a line of PVA glue inside the bottom of the cup and halfway up the sides, and push the ball of fabric into the cup, settling it straight and holding it for a while until the glue had ‘grabbed’. In the end, the fabric ball sat very tightly in the cup, so at the moment I’m not planning to glue it in. I’m not sure yet, but I may glue the cup to the saucer to prevent the cup being knocked off the saucer, as it rattles a bit when I’m using it.


Teacup 9a

This was a quick project, and I wouldn’t have thought of doing it if I hadn’t seen that image on Facebook, but it’s  a really lovely little addition to my ‘sewing smalls’ collection.


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Thimble purse with a twist: 2

The stitching of this thimble purse by Brenda Gervais  itself didn’t take long to do, even though I had added my own design for the reverse side. I expected the assembly to be tricky, however, as this purse is only about two and a half inches wide when it is finished. That might sound strange, as I design much smaller things for doll’s houses for my doll’s house needlepoint kit website – but when I’m designing something from scratch, I know it’s going to work!! With other people’s designs, I have to have faith that it is going to work!!

Thimble 05

This design, fortunately, was easy to put together. I first cut out the stitching of the front and back pieces using the template provided, and two lining pieces from lilac Dupion silk, and marked with a small dot where the first line of stitching up of the seams would end. Then I put a front and lining piece, and a back and lining piece together, and stitched round the top edges to the dots.

Thimble 06

Putting the two stitched pieces front sides facing, and the two lining pieces front sides facing, I stitched by hand (instructions said to use a machine, but I couldn’t be bothered to get mine out and set it up for such a small bit of sewing!) round the lower edges, leaving a gap in the lining pair to allow for turning the piece through.

Thimble 07


Thimble 08

The lining gap sewn up, and the piece turned through, I then had to tackle fixing the stitching to the tiny purse frame. This is a good quality metal frame in a kind of burnished gold, about one and a quarter inches wide, included with the chart pack. I put glue in the groove of the frame, one side at a time, and slid the fabric into the groove, making sure it was straight. I did the back first, in case I made a mess of it! One side of the frame has a kind of loop on it for fixing a strap, so this side has to go to the back of the purse.

Thimble 09

When I had glued the front piece on to the frame as well (which actually was quite easy), I made a cord out of some of the leftover thread. I decided not to use the loop on the frame, as then the purse wouldn’t hang straight when I was wearing it (like the photo on the front of the packet demonstrates), as I’m a bit obsessive about things being symmetrical.  So, to get around that, I decided to fix the cord through the joints of the hinges on either side of the purse.

Thimble 10

So that the cord wouldn’t slip out, I threaded it through two size 6 beads, one on each inside edge of the hinges, so that they acted like washers inside the bag itself. I put fabric glue on the knots to make them secure, then trimmed the cord.

Thimble 11

The purse, when finished, looks like this. At first, when I tried to wear it, I had a slight problem in that the frame is heavier than the fabric part, so as I had attached the cord in the way that I did, it allowed the purse to flip over and hang upside down, so I got around that by finding a moss agate pebble that I like, and keeping that inside the purse to weigh it down a bit!!

I decided not to add buttons along the bottom edge of the purse, like the photo on the front of the chart pack shows, as I felt it is ‘finished’ enough as it is.

Thimble 12

The back of the bag looks like this.  The bag works brilliantly for what I intended it to – I can keep little pieces of paper in it with my wasifas (Islamic mantras) written on them, and wearing the bag close to my heart serves to remind me to think of what the wasifas mean throughout the day.

Thimble 13


So, it’s a very lovely thimble purse which will probably never have a thimble kept in it, but I like it just the same!


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Thimble purse with a twist: 1

I recently saw this sweet little thimble purse chart pack online, and just had to have it! There are several designs in the range by Brenda Gervais, but I like this ‘Home Sweet Home’ on the best. I got my chart pack from the UK website The Patchwork Rabbit for £9, and that included the tiny little purse frame. Here are my fabric and thread choices:

Thimble 01


I decided to use shades of teal and purple for the flowers and vine part of the design rather than the recommended brown shades, as I wear those colours a lot, and brown shades don’t suit me.


Thimble 02

The design itself was very quick and simple to do.  I stitched the design on 40 count linen, over two threads. I left off a couple of the letters from the chart, as I felt they might get ‘lost’ in the seams, so I only stitched what would definitely show.

Then I did my own design for the reverse side of the purse. I decided that I would use this neck purse as a ‘wasifa purse’ – that is, I want to wear it while it contains wasifas, or Islamic mantras, so that I remember to focus on the meanings all day while I am wearing the purse (I am Universal Sufi). So, I designed a simple backstitch alphabet five stitches high, and wrote out the letters that I wanted, and the Sufi flying heart emblem to put above the words:


Thimble 03

The three phrases mean ‘The Purity of God’, ‘All praise be to God’, and  ‘God is greater than all things’.


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Teacup pincushion 1: a quick but cute embroidery project

In January of this year, I saw this image on the Facebook page of Inspirations Magazine, by Country Bumpkin publications (in Australia). I don’t know if this is a project from the magazine, or just an inspirational picture that they had found online somewhere, but I thought it was a very nice idea.  I got tempted to ‘do a little browsing’ on Ebay, and found that there are hundreds of cup and saucer sets being sold (not just complete sets of china, as I’d expected).

Teacup 5

So, I started to narrow down my search for something similar to the image I’d seen on Facebook. There were lots to choose from, but I knew I wanted something that would be simple to translate into an embroidery design, so that helped to keep me focussed. The design I settled on was Royal Stafford ‘Fragrance’, and the cup and saucer set cost me just £4.

Teacup 1

With such a simple design in shades of mainly pink and green, it was easy to choose threads from my stash. I’ve got loads of pinks and greens! I decided to use a white cotton drill fabric, also from my stash, which I’d originally bought from Chawla’s website (based in London). It cost £4.95 per metre in 2012, is 60 inches wide, and the code is GT395-02. It’s a good, tightly woven fabric, so I didn’t need a supporting fabric like a muslin behind it. I used what I think is the reverse of the fabric as the side to stitch on – that is, I didn’t use the side with the diagonal ridges, but the smooth side instead.

I drew round the top of the cup onto plain paper, and planned my design – making sure it only extended to within half an inch of the cup’s rim, so that the design wouldn’t get lost in the shaping of the pincushion itself when I fitted it into the cup. I used one motif based on the pink flowers, and one based on the spray of berries, and repeated each one three time in a circle.

Teacup 2

Here are the threads and beads I chose to possibly use:

Teacup 3

I cut a piece of the cotton drill fabric 14 inches wide to easily fit an eight inch Susan Bates hoop, although the motif itself is tiny. It makes it easier to stitch it in a  large hoop, and definitely allows me enough fabric for finishing.

Teacup 4


I’ll work out the stitches to use as I go – it shouldn’t take long to get this one finished!


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