Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sitting Pinny Armchair Pincushion (with tutorial!)

The Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild has a few swaps at guild meetings, and last month it was a pincushion swap!

There were so many amazing pincushions.

I made an armchair from Tsuru's feather print, and matching pillows from one of the line's coordinating prints.

I made an armchair, because while I had several ideas not involving armchairs, I kept pinning armchairs. And that one crab, I guess. Anyway, although there are tutorials out there, I made my own without looking at them, and then I made some more that make more sense, and that's what I will be sharing with you!

I think you never really know a thing until you've made it three times and have explored many possible downfalls and dead ends... 

There is a pdf available (for the nominal fee of $1) at my Etsy shop. Or, scroll on...

  • Soft And Stable or similar thin foam
  • 2" square piece of plastic canvas
  • 1 package of 4 purse feet (I used Sew Sweetness purse feet)
  • fabric for chair - at least 1 fat eighth if you want a single fabric chair - a small print is recommended
  • crushed walnut shells (or similar) for filling the cushion (you can buy it at pet stores, where it's sold as reptile bedding)
  • fabric for pillows 2" squares of accent fabrics
  • polyfill for pillows - tiny amounts.
  • thread
  • pins
  • hand sewing needles
  • sewing machine
From the Soft and Stable cut four pieces:

  • 7.5" x 2.5" for the back
  • (2) 3.5" x 1.5" for the arms
  • 2"x 6" for the bottom

My Soft and Stable is black...
 Fold the arms and back in half, so that the lengths are shortened but the widths stay the same. For the bottom, fold thusly, so that it is almost, but not quite in thirds:

Trim the open end of the back into a curve. I just eyeball it:

Assemble the frame so that the seat and the arms sit flush against the bottom of the back. I put the folds of the arms at the top so that the arm is wider there than at the bottom. And the wider part of the base I put at the front.

Hand stitch it all together. It doesn't have to look nice, it'll all be covered over! I also stitch the top of the back closed as well. And the arms should attach to the back all the way to their tops. (I don't have a picture!)

Now it's time to put the feet on:

Cut a piece of your fabric that is 4" x 5". Lay this face down and place your 2" square of plastic canvas on the wrong side of it so that it is equally distant from three of the four sides. Then mark a spot about 1 cm from the edges of the plastic canvas on all four corners.

If you are worried about your fabric direction, the longest side is going to go over the front of the chair.

Clip at the marks, and position your feet through them and the plastic canvas and install feet as directed. (So, having only used the one kind of feet, I can't predict that your feet will work with the plastic canvas as well as mine, if they are too wide/different whatever, or you don't have plastic canvas, any stiff material will do, canvas or denim or interfacing, or whatever you have on hand. I just want to be sure the feet don't pull out of the fabric. Plastic canvas is just what I have on hand.)

Now position this piece on the bottom of your chair, folding the excess fabric up around the sides as if you were wrapping a present.

In the front I put the extra sides under the seat. All you need is to get these laying as flat as possible. And pin a lot, because you won't be attaching them for a bit! But be careful to keep your pins visible, because you don't want to sew one inside your pincushion. (Like I did! and had to undo...)

Next is the back:

Cut two pieces from your fabric - both 4" x 4.75", lay them right sides together and lay your chair back down centered about 1/2" from the top. Then trace around it with chalk or a pencil, being sure to mark where the arms are attached to the back.

Sew along that line with your sewing machine. Trim the seam to 1/2", and clip around the curve. Then turn it right side out, and fit it over your chair:

For the outside of the back, you have to fold up the bottom to finish that part, but the side edges can remain raw, and I like to pull it forward to have more overlap with the arm pieces coming next.

For the inside of the back, I fold the armhole edges in under the back. The bottom here can remain raw because it will be covered in the next step.

The last piece of the upholstery will cover the arms, and all remaining raw edges. Cut out a piece 2.74" x 9.75". Press a 1/4 hem on one short side and one long side:

Starting at the bottom of the outside of one arm, put the pressed under short edge against this side, with the pressed under long edge against the chair back. Pin. Work up to the top of the arm. Pin. Work into the chair seat. Pin. Keep going until the piece lies flat through the whole chair to the bottom of the far arm. Then fold up the fabric to tuck the raw edge inside.

Then you tuck in the raw edge on the front side, from the tip of one arm to the other.

From the front, now, it looks like this:

Now, fold the remaining outer raw edge to the center, and fold the flap you created with that first fold down on top of that, and pin.

Or maybe not, because it looks like I did the opposite in this rust colored chair. The point is! Somehow you need to hide the remaining raw edges and the arms are the place to do it. Experiment with folding. Try to pull everything tight so there aren't any wrinkles...

Now, sew it together with a needle and thread. Sew the arms to the back before you sew the arms closed in the front, because you may need the spare fabric you tied up there.

Now we do the cushion! Cut two pieces of fabric (I like mine to contrast.)

The top/bottom piece: 5.25" x 2.25"
The side piece: 6" x 1.25"

Mark the center of the top's long side and the side's short side, and match them up:

On a sewing machine (with a short stitch) sew from 1/4 of an inch from the side, and use a 1/4" seam allowance. When you get 1/4" from the end of the sides piece, stop with your needle down, and twist your side piece so that the long side now runs along the long side of the top piece.

This is to give you the idea of step number two without the sewing machine in the way

When you get a 1/4" from the edge of the bottom piece, stop with your needle down, lift your presser foot, and twist your top piece until it lays along your side piece. And so on until there is only about 1" left.

(You keep shifting the pieces until you are sewing all around the edges of both of them, creating a 3 Dimensional box...)
Done, with the seam allowance on the open side pressed open.

Once the box is complete, press the seam allowances on the open side so that you will know where they are when you turn it right side out. Turn it, use a stiletto in the corners, then fill with crushed walnut shells. Pin and sew shut.

I secure the cushion to the chair with a few stitches along the back, which the pillows will hide.

Speaking of pillows! Take 2 2" squares and stitch together (stitching forward and reverse to secure stitches at the beginning and end) with a 1/4" seam leaving about a 1" space for turning on one side.

Clip corners. Press seam allowance open on the turning side:

Turn, use a stilleto to poke out the corners, stuff with a tiny bit of stuffing, and sew shut. Arrange on the chair. Secure with a few stitches.


Ha, you can see I haven't finished my pillows yet! oops!

Let me know if there's anything I can work on explaining better (or if you have some idea on how to explain things better!) or if steps are missing.

And, if you are on Instagram, please use the hastag of #sittingpinny so I can find your chairs!

There is a pdf available (for the nominal fee of $1) at my Etsy shop.

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