Folk Art Fish Pincushion

A playful wool pincushion provides the perfect place to poke stray pins and needles.


What you'll need:

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  • 7-inch square each of orange, gold, and green felted wool (fish top, fins, tail, appliques)
  • 5x3-inch rectangle blue felted wool (fish top)
  • 10-inch square muslin (lining)
  • Freezer paper
  • Embroidery floss: gold, black, and orange
  • Chenille needle: size 24
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • Cloves
  • Crafts sand
  • Two 1/2-inch-diameter crescent-shape buttons

Finished pincushion: 8-1/2x4 inches

Measurements include 1/4-inch seam allowances. Sew with right sides together unless otherwise indicated.

Prepare fabrics:

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To felt wool, machine-wash it in a hot-water-wash, cool-rinse cycle with a small amount of detergent; machine-dry and steam-press.

To use freezer paper to prepare pattern pieces, complete the following steps.

  1. Lay freezer paper, shiny side down, over patterns. Use a pencil to trace patterns the number of times indicated. Cut out freezer-paper shapes along traced lines.
  2. Press freezer-paper shapes onto designated fabrics. Let fabrics cool. Cut out fabric shapes. Remove freezer paper.

Cut pieces in the following order.

From black wool, cut:

One of Pattern A

Three 5/8x4-1/4-inch strips

Two of Pattern F

Four of Pattern G

From orange wool, cut:

One each of patterns B and H

From gold wool, cut:

One of Pattern C

Three of Pattern H

From green wool, cut:

Two each of patterns D, E, and E reversed

From blue wool, cut:

Three 3/8x4-1/4-inch strips

From muslin, cut:

Two of Pattern A

Get patterns for the folk art fish pincushion.

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  1. Referring to Diagram 1, position black F and G pieces and orange and gold H pieces onto orange B piece and one green D piece; baste in place.
  2. Using a chenille needle and two strands of matching embroidery floss, blanket-stitch around each applique shape. To blanket-stitch, pull your needle up at A (Blanket Stitch Diagram), form a reverse L shape with floss, and hold angle of L shape in place with your thumb. Push your needle down at B and come up at C to secure stitch. Continue in same manner.
  3. Referring to Diagram 2, pin black 5/8x4-1/4-inch strips on gold C piece. Trim strip ends even with gold piece; hand-stitch strips in place along long edges. In the same manner, pin blue 3/8x4-1/4-inch strips on top of black strips. Trim and hand-stitch blue strips in place.
  4. Sew appliqued orange B piece to appliqued gold C piece to make fish top. Press seam toward orange piece.
  5. Sew together appliqued green D piece and remaining green D piece, leaving an opening as indicated on pattern. Clip seam allowance at corners. Turn right side out to make a tail. Stuff fiberfill into opening until tail is full. Repeat with green E pieces to make two stuffed fins.
  6. Referring to photo and patterns, for placement, pin tail and fins to fish top; baste in place. Then sew together black A piece and fish top, leaving an opening for turning as indicated on Pattern B. Clip seam allowance at curves and corners. Turn right sideout to make fish.
  7. Referring to photo and patterns, for placement, pin tail and fins to fish top; baste in place. Then sew together black A piece and fish top, leaving an opening for turning as indicated on Pattern B. Clip seam allowance at curves and corners. Turn right sideout to make fish.
  8. Insert stuffed muslin liner into fish. Hand-sew opening closed. Sew crescent-shape buttons in place for eyes to complete pincushion.
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