Saturday, September 17, 2016

orange peel pincushion tutorial

It's been a while since I put out a free pattern or tutorial, and I know how you all just love here is a goody for you. This idea came to me last Friday when I was walking home from dropping my daughter off at school. I love orange peels and cathedral windows, and this is a combination of those. I made (4) one-inch scrappy (foundation paper pieced) diagonal blocks, basted two pieces of same-sized squares folded on top and sewed all four blocks together. I threw on a couple of borders, sewed some lovely Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in black on the backside, filled with cornmeal, finished off with a ladder stitch and there you go. BOOM!

If you didn't quite understand all of that, we'll go through this step-by-step. I love pictures and hope there are enough for you to understand where this is going.

Materials Needed:

Various rainbow scraps for diagonal blocks
(8) 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" Low Volume fabric squares for windows
(2) 1" x 2 1/2" purple fabric strip for border
(2) 1" x 3 1/2" purple fabric strip for border
(1) 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" backing fabric
about ½ cup or 100 grams of small grain or filling 
such as crushed walnut shells, cornmeal or grits
(4) 1-inch diagonal strip block templates for foundation paper piecing. You can make your own or download the complete pattern found on Etsy.
Hand sewing needle & thread 

  • Makes one, three-inch pincushion. 
  • Knowledge of foundation paper piecing is required. 
  • Knowledge of how to make a pincushion can be helpful as well as a ladder stitch
  • Please use a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance when sewing. 
  • Reduce your stitch length to 2.0 or 1.5 to allow for easier paper removal and better endurance.

Let's get started....

Cut out four templates from the one-inch diagonal strip blocks template sheet free for download.

Make four blocks in four different colorways using the fpp templates. I chose yellow, red/orange, greens and blues. Make sure you overlap the seam allowance on the foundation paper with ample fabric. You can always cut off the extra.

Trim up your one-inch blocks using the seam allowance guide on the back, a good ruler and rotary cutter. (My, oh my, how those blocks look so much cuter when they are squared up.) Take your papers out now. (I left mine in.)

Take all eight (8) 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" squares and fold them in half diagonally. Press with a warm iron. 

Place one folded square (now a triangle) over each foundation pieced block as shown below.

Place the second triangle over the block and baste using a 1/8th seam allowance. Please be very accurate in this step. If you are not, the windows might not line up on all four blocks. (The blue and green diagonal strip blocks are swapped in this foto. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.)

Once all four blocks are basted, connect two blocks. Press seam open or to one side. Sew the other two blocks together and then connect to make a four patch. Attach borders.

Open your windows and pin in place. Now doesn't that look pretty!!?? 

NOTE: You could put a little piece of fabric in the middle to make a Cathedral window.

Still using a stitch length of 2.0 to 1.5, top stitch the windows in place.

Layer your backing fabric and pincushion top right sides together (RST). Sew around the outside leaving a two inch gap along one side to flip. Trim corner at a 45° angle to get a sharp corner. Flip. Thread a hand needle with a color matching your backing fabric. 

Sorry - NO FOTO for this step! I was sewing instead. : )


Start to sew the seam shut. Using a small funnel, fill your pincushion up with the small grain filling. I used (organic) cornmeal, because if flows through my funnel easily and has the right grain size.  Continue to sew the seam shut and filling with more grain. All finished.

You also can make a classic orange peel like this:

Or you can make all kinds of other variations such as only using one triangle per block.

Or flip the block around to make a pinwheel.

I would love to see what you can come up with. Please post your photos on Instagram so we all can see. Use the hashtag #eporangepeelpincushion. Or drop me an email. 

If anything is unclear, please feel free to drop me a note, and I will try to make it clearer for all.  

Thanks for dropping by! Happy sewing! Feel free to look around. I have a lot of other tutorials and freebies here on my blog.


  1. Pretty clever, Karen! Thanks for sharing!

  2. OMG, Karen, you're a genius!!! I love your tiny work and you always top with the next project. Wonderful. Thank you for showing 😘

  3. Fantastic! You have such awesome sewing skills! Thanks for sharing this!

  4. This is so pretty! Thank you for this tutorial :)

  5. Danke fĂŒr die MĂŒhe die Du Dir mit dieser Anleitung gemacht hast. Im ersten Absatz dieses Berichts hört sich alles so einfach an, aber ich glaube ganz so leicht geht das nicht!

  6. Oh, this is so cute!
    (I like those tiny yellow hexies on your photos :-) )
    Can I have one for christmas?

  7. So bright and cheerful. You have some lovely variations too. Thank you


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