A Pincushion for My Daddy

You know that feeling when you hold an object in your hand that you’ve made. Some things are distinctive, and you know how that feels, too. Like this little pincushion. It's an unconventional memorial, I know, but this pincushion is dedicated to the memory of my father, who passed away March 12. As I share a little tutorial, let me also share why this is for Dad.

Juicy Goosey Paper Pieced block from Jeli Quilts

Juicy Goosey Paper Pieced block from Jeli Quilts

The pincushion came about because of a challenge hosted by my local Modern Quilt Guild. I ended up with all the solids shown, and we were instructed to make something using them all plus one additional fabric of our choosing. I chose Tim Holtz' Dictionary print as a background, and decided to check off a paper pieced block I'd been longing to make: Juicy Goosey, designed by Jeli Quilts.

Four paper pieced sections.

 Even though I have sold about 12 bolts of this particular fabric in my quilt shop, I had never read the words on the dictionary fabric. But as I began to piece the tiny 2" sections, I noticed the word "memory" landing in my focus over and over. Each time I saw it, I thought of Daddy, who had been in memory care for several months before he passed. The entire project stirred up so many memories of him, and I thought of him every minute I sewed. Lots of minutes...

4" paper pieced block.

Memory care is hard. Hard on families, hard on caregivers, but hardest on the sufferer. Although Dad never forgot who his family was, the only other thing he could remember was that he was not with Mom. They had been separated for six months because my mother had sustained brain trauma in a car accident, requiring full time skilled nursing care. I brought her to North Carolina to be near me, but dad remained in Georgia while I worked out his transfer to my town. When I finally was able to bring him to North Carolina, I arranged a meeting with mom. It was the sweetest day. Dad was strong for the 30 minute ride to Momma's facility. Every day for six months his only goal had been to get to Mom, and this day had finally come to fulfillment. Their visit was beautiful; they were both so happy, embracing while the family and nurses watched and cried.  Mom's doctor said it was "the most touching scene of love and devotion he had ever seen". 

Thought you'd like to see the back side. Mmmmmhhhhhmmmm.

Thought you'd like to see the back side. Mmmmmhhhhhmmmm.

It took just about everyone present to get dad to the car to head back to my town, but he finally agreed to leave Mom and we headed back to his home. The next day, Dad wasn't himself. He continued to decline and passed away 10 days after that visit with Mom. They never saw each other again, but Dad spoke of the visit often, and how beautiful Mom was. Hospice felt that he had been holding on to see Mom just one more time. I will always be thankful for that meeting, and for bringing him to my town.  I cherish the time spent with him during the last few weeks of his life, and recalling our visits as I sewed this little pincushion has been such a blessing.

I decided to add yellow piping to the top edges around my little block. Baby Lock's mini piping foot made short work of that task, both in creating the piping and attaching it to the edge of the little paper pieced square. I also used this foot when sewing the sides to the block, because the piping stayed right in the groove, keeping the seam straight and close to the piping. Click on the photo, left, to read more about this helpful little foot.

After applying the piping, I attached the sides and bottom. The top of the pincushion measures 4.5", so I cut four sides 4.5" x 2.5". I cut a 4.5" square for the bottom piece.

The sides are attached separately, placing each one on the pincushion top (right sides together) and stitching the seam, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance unsewn at the beginning and end of the seam (as shown in the first photo, below). Be sure to secure the seam with a knot or back stitch at each end. Sew all four sides on.  Next, sew the short sides together, leaving the 1/4" seam allowance unsewn at both ends in the same manner (last photo).

Sewing a box pincushion.

The bottom is sewn on in the same way, leaving about 2" unsewn on one side for turning and stuffing. Slipstitch closed.

So, Daddy, every time I use my pincushion I'll be thinking of you. Thank you for all you meant to me. I walked into Momma's room the other day to find her clutching your photo to her heart. I promise to take care of her until you're together again and never have to be apart.

Thank you for

  • Never telling me that I sewed the buttons and buttonholes to the wrong side of your shirts I made for you. You wore them proudly.
  • Surprising me with money for the expensive puppy I wanted.
  • Believing that I could sing, and buying me a guitar. I pushed through the lessons, mostly to please you.
  • Lots of airplane rides, and even one glider ride. You were a great pilot and I always felt safe.
  • Loving my peach pie.
  • Letting me bring you a bowl of ice cream and cookies every night to the sofa. (How did you stay so thin?).
  • Making a cradle for my baby, and beautiful fabric display tables for my quilt shop.
  • Driving me to church every Sunday without fail when I was a teenager. Oh, how I wanted you to go to church with me.
  • Giving your life to the Lord, finally.

I could go on and on. I'll love him forever.

Thanks for visiting. Happy sewing and God bless! Maxie


On Pincushions

I am a collector of pincushions, and many of my friends know it! I've been gifted with very beautiful pincushions, I've made some and bought some, and I use them! I like to keep one at every station in my sewing studio so that I'm not constantly searching for pins. Here are a few from my collection.

My pincushion collection.

But, realistically, this is what happens at the sewing machine.

Pins accumulate on my sewing machine bed.

It can take so long to pick them up, then pick up the ones that slipped through my fingers and onto the floor, and arrange them into the pincushion. So, I added one more pincushion to my collection.

There are many brands, but this one from Dritz has a little secret drawer on the bottom for chocolate. The package said it was for extra pins, but this just made more sense to me. And yes, I eat them straight from the bag.

My favorite magnetic pin caddy holds my pins and my favorite treat!


So, collect many pincushions and use them all, but have at least one magnetic pin caddy for quickly picking up loose pins. It's very easy to transfer them from the magnetic one to a fabric one because the pin heads stay together!

Thanks for visiting! Happy sewing and God bless! Maxie

Pins 101

How the internet changes things. Even our vocabulary, right? Take the word pin. To a quilter, it's a very important sewing notion. To someone perusing the internet, it's an image uploaded to the photo sharing website, Pinterest. Users can upload, save, sort, and manage images—known as pins—and other media content (e.g., videos and images) through collections known as pinboards. I have pinboards on Pinterest, and I invite you to follow Maxie Makes there! (And, by all means, please feel free to pin images from my blog!) But for a moment, let's talk about a quilter's pin!

Hand Made Pincushion in Depression Glass Dish

This little pincushion is filled with my very favorite pin, made by Collins. (I'll tell you how to make the pincushion below!) They are very fine nickel plated, with glass heads. Did you know that some pins have plastic heads? This can be disastrous if you accidentally iron over one. I know. I tossed out my plastic pins long ago and began the search for the perfect glass head pin. After a lot of trials, I finally settled on this pin and it's been my favorite for years. It's very fine, yet strong enough to remain straight when I need to use it as a tool of sorts. They are 1 3/8" long, which seems perfect when pinning everything from quilt squares to clothing to home dec and tote bags. My favorite. But not Judy's.

Judy is a long time employee at my quilt shop, and a very excellent quilter and teacher. She does a lot of paper piecing, and when it comes to meticulous piecing, she's scrupulous. Her favorite pin is Clover's Fine Patchwork Pin because they are a little longer (1.41") and a wee bit thinner. She feels the size of the pin allows her to pin with greater accuracy. However, the wee bit thinner-ness causes it to bend more easily, and that's why I choose the Collins pin. Judy obviously doesn't use her pins as tools, as I do, so these just fit her criteria better.


My pins are on the left, Judy's on the right.

So...you choose for yourself your favorite pin! How about making two of these beautiful pin cushions, one for each kind! I have both listed on my shopping page.

Hand Made Pin Cushion in a Depression Glass Dish


How to make the Pin Cushion:

This pin cushion was made in a depression glass dish. I do have the lid for it, but I usually don't cover my pins, so if you find a deal in an antique shop just because the lid is missing or broken...grab it! The fabric section is simply a pinwheel block, made from four half square triangles, and trimmed into a circle. I stitched very long stitches around the outside edge of the circle so that I could gather the edge, and I left the needle and thread attached. Add a handful of stuffing (I love to use left over wool batting scraps for this) and pull up the gathering threads a bit. Stitch across the circle to secure and tie off. Sew a button through the center to depress the center a bit. Next, I covered a cardboard circle with matching fabric and placed it in the bottom of the dish, with the pretty fabric facing down. (This is only necessary if your dish is transparent.) Then, after gluing pink gathered ribbon to the edge of the pinwheel pouf, I glued it into the dish with a glue gun. Have fun!

Thanks for visiting and happy sewing! God bless, Maxie