Sunday, 16 June 2013

How to make a wrist pincushion

I attend quite a few sewing workshops, and one thing which often attracts comment at these is my pincushion. In fact, on one occasion someone admitted to suffering from, “pincushion envy”!

My pincushion, worn on my left wrist for ease of photographing (normally I wear it on my right wrist)

You can buy pincushions which you wear on your wrist from lots of places, but I always found them too big for my skinny wrists. The only solution was to make my own. It was quick to do (I made it while watching “Groundhog Day” one afternoon), and the result is a perfect fit; so much so that I often forget that I’m wearing it. I’ve walked down the road with it on, after popping round to a neighbour’s to help her with a dress alteration. I’ve typed with it on, after doing some sewing in my lunch break at work. In fact, it gets so much use that it’s going a bit bald in places, and I’ve had to patch it.

Pin-free, and showing the patches

As I’ve just made one for my mum, this seemed an ideal time to post a tutorial, so that you too can have a perfectly fitting wrist pincushion.

You will need:
- felt (a 22cm / 8½” square piece was just big enough for the size of pincushion I wanted to make)
- 2.5cm / 1” wide elastic
- a small piece of thick card
- needle and thread
- stuffing
- glue (optional)


Begin by measuring the width of your wrist where the pincushion will sit, side to side. In my case this is 5.5cm / 2¼”.

Wrist width

Cut a circle from the thick card, with the diameter equal to the wrist width measurement.

Cut two circles from the felt. One should have the diameter equal to the wrist width measurement plus 2.5cm / 1”. The diameter of the other depends on how big you want the pincushion to be. On my pincushion the top piece is 16cm / 6¼” across, so I added a 2cm / ¾" seam allowance to this, which gave a diameter of 18cm / 7".

Calculating the size of the pincushion

Run a gathering stitch around the edge of the smaller felt circle. I used the thread double thickness, to make it stronger. Place the card in the centre, and pull up the gathers. If you want, you can put a thin layer of glue onto the card first, for extra stability.

Making the pincushion back

Sew the elastic securely onto the felt, leaving quite a long 'tail' extending across the card.

Attaching the elastic

Place the card circle on your wrist, felt side down, and wrap the elastic round your wrist. You want it to be a snug fit, but not circulation-stoppingly tight. Remember that you need to be able to slide the finished pincushion over your hand. Also remember that the card circle will bend slightly with use. Pin the elastic to the felt on the other side of the circle, so that the end overlaps the 'tail'. Cut the elastic, leaving an overlap across the card.

Securing the elastic

Sew the elastic firmly to the felt, and then onto the other end of the elastic to make a loop. This makes it more secure than just sewing the elastic to the felt.

The completed pincushion back

Side view

Now run a gathering stitch around the edge of the larger felt circle. Again I used the thread double thickness. Pull up the gathers to form a bag shape, and adjust until the circle formed by the gathers is the same size as the felt and card circle. Secure with a couple of small stitches, to stop the gathered edge from changing size.

Pincushion back, and gathered top

Now turn the elastic over, so that the loop is in front of the felt, not behind it (like the 'side view' picture above). Sew the large gathered felt circle onto edge of the felt and card circle, leaving a small gap. I found that the easiest way to do this was to make a few loose stitches, and then pull the tread tight.

Because the trickiest part is sewing through both the felt and the elastic, I started just before one end of the elastic, and sewed through that, round the circle, and through the other end of the elastic.

Sewing back and top together

Stuff the pincushion firmly, and sew up the gap.

Stuffing the pincushion

Squish the pincushion a bit; to distribute the stuffing evenly, and get a nice round shape. Any there you have it, your own made-to-measure wrist pincushion.

Finished! Side view

View of the underside


  1. Great tutorial! The finished pincushion is so amazingly, perfectly round.
    The red one does look pretty worn, but the patches are very cheerful looking.

    I think I need to make a pincushion now. Not a wrist one, I've got a pincushion ring that I use, but one to sit on the sewing table.

  2. Thank you Mouse Borg! I've just found a bare patch on the red pincushion, so another patch is needed.