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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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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The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 9 – the finished panel

This, then, is the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer panel, now that it is completed. For those of you who like to know these things, I estimate that it took about a week (on and off) to design it, 45 hours to stitch all the blue lettering, and about 120 hours altogether to make this panel. The frame measures 16 inches by 20. I decided not to use the glass that came with the frame, so that the beads, gold braid and padded areas wouldn’t get crushed. A layer of two ounce wadding beneath the stitching gave the embroidery a nice ‘slightly padded’ look, when it was mounted.

This is the completed picture, displayed with the book ‘Prayers of the Cosmos’, which was written by my Sufi teacher, Neil Douglas-Klotz (the panel was made as a gift for him). This is the book which explains the translation from the Aramaic language of the Lord’s Prayer:


Here are some detailed photos that my husband took, when the piece was finished – his camera can take much more detailed images than mine can!














Finally, I gave the piece, as I explained at the beginning of this series of posts, as a gift to my Sufi teacher, Saadi Neil Douglas-Klotz. My husband very kindly offered to ‘take a few photos’ – he actually sneakily took *video* – here’s a few stills from the video so you can see how it turned out:

Abwoon58 - Saadi14

Abwoon60 - Saadi1831

Abwoon61 - Saadi53

I really enjoyed making this!

If you’d like to find out more about Neil Douglas-Klotz’s work on the translation of the Lord’s Prayer from the original Aramaic, he has a website at www.abwoon.org , where information about all his books, audio courses, music and other information about his work as an independent Biblical scholar can be found. There is also a page where you can learn to speak the Prayer of Jesus in Aramaic, line by line  here.

Here is a video of him speaking/praying the Aramaic Prayer of Jesus:

And this is another one of him teaching the first line of the Aramaic Prayer as a Dance of Universal Peace, which he created 30 years ago. The video was recorded in the USA in 2012:

There are many more videos like this on Neil’s website.


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The Lord’s Prayer – an Aramaic transliteration in surface embroidery: 8 – ‘Ameyn’ embroidered area, bottom edge border, and mounting the panel

This is the original design I chose from the ‘World of Ornament’ book to run along the bottom edge of the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer panel. It is Moorish-inspired. I wanted a repeating pattern that wouldn’t be too difficult to render in embroidery, but which would give the look of a wide solid line to the base of the panel when viewed from a distance, to ‘ground’ the whole piece.


I knew I would have to eliminate quite a lot of the detail, in order to stitch the design. Those little white dots would have to go, for a start! I worked out a repeating pattern for the colours I wanted to use, and stitched the basic lotus-shaped areas first. Then I edged the circles with Coats Ophir thread, in one continuous line from left to right going over and under the shapes, then back the other way from right to left, completing them.


The original design had quite a ‘coloured in’ background,and I wanted to give the effect of this without doing some really dense stitching such as long and short stitch, for instance. So, I stitched a line of buttonhole stitches along the top edge in Thread Gatherer Silk ‘n’ Colors 1027 Leprechaun, altering the length of each stitch to fill the gaps between the circles. Along the bottom edge, I attached clusters of three red beads. A size 11 gold sead bead finished off each of the lotus flowers.


The final word to decorate on the panel was the word ‘Ameyn’ – in English that’s what we know as ‘Amen’. The word ‘Amen’ is often understood as just a kind of ‘the end’ word, when people say prayers in English, but in Aramaic, the word has whole layers of meaning! One of these meanings, which I really like, is, “May this be the ground from which our new growth will spring.” It has a very organic feel to it. I chose this border pattern as my starting point for this part of the panel:


As you can see, it doesn’t have many colours to it, but I wanted the colour selection for the embroidery to blend in with the other borders in the panel – so, it would have red and blue flowers, along with gold highlights, like the other borders.


I found some sweet little spacer beads in my beading stash ( I do beading, too – maybe one day I’ll show you…), and I felt that these would make very nice ‘flower centres’. I attached the spacer beads with Guterman thread, then stitched individual fly stitches around each of the five sides of each bead, with one strand of light blue Anchor thread. The rest of the leaves and flowers were made from lazy daisy stitches and fly stitches. The stem was one strand of 352 Dark brown Anchor stranded thread, highlighted with couched Coats Ophir thread alongside, as in the other borders. Couched Kreinik braid #16 around the edge completed the area.


For the final outline around the whole panel, I had various options. I had considered quite complicated bands of couched gold, red and blue, for example. or heavy stretched pearl purl intertwined with red thread (to echo the band across the centre of the panel). Or even appliqued red kid pieces at the corners, with complicated linking bands of various stitches in between. But when I looked at the almost-finished panel, I felt that it was quite busy enough, and only required a simple finish. Also, the idea of chain stitch appealed to me, as it was a simple ‘link’ around all of the words, expressing the idea that the whole Prayer can provide a link between our everyday lives and the sacred.


So, eventually the outer border was stitched with four strands of Anchor stranded thread 152 Navy, in chain stitch.

Then came the bit I don’t like doing….I had to finish it all off. I usually rush the finishing part of any project, as I don’t have the patience to slow down and do it all properly, but it was important to me to get this right, as it’s a present for my Sufi teacher. I cut the fabric from the frame, and debated with myself whether or not to risk ironing it from the reverse side. I decided against it, as the gold thread and the beads might not have liked that!

I trimmed the muslin backing fabric and the yellow silk down until they were both about three inches wider on each side than the backing board itself. I cut the backing board slightly smaller than it was when I bought it as an insert in a frame, as I wanted the double layer of fabric, once mounted on the board, to not pucker up when I put it into the frame, but to sit quite loosely. I discarded the glass that had come with the frame, as I don’t like embroidery to be squashed behind glass. It makes the embroidery lose its tactile quality.

Before lacing the stitching to the board, I cut a piece of two ounce wadding, half an inch smaller all round than the mount board, and fixed it in place with strips of double-sided tape, so that the finished stitching would be slightly padded in the frame.

To lace the fabric to the board I used Coats perle no 12 thread, as it is very strong. I laced the fabric (both layers at once) top to bottom first, making stitches every half inch or so, and only gently pulling the thread as I went. Then I went back over the lacing, pulling really tight after making all the stitches, and holding the lacing down with my thumb after each tug, to keep the perle thread tight until the very last stitch, when I could fasten off really securely.


Then I repeated the procedure going from side to side across the panel.


Almost done!!


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