How to Make a Yo-Yo Pincushion

16 Mar 2010


This design showed up in my sketchbook a long time ago, but I resisted making it because I really don't need another pincushion. But I do have a pretty serious yo-yo habit, and finally broke down when I couldn't resist playing with my yo-yo maker any longer.

So, this project begins with 6 to 8 yo-yos. I used my beloved Clover Yo-Yo Maker in the 1 3/4" size. If you prefer to kick it old school, then use Heather Bailey's gorgeous tutorial for making them from scratch.


Warning! Math-y Bits!

So, let's figure out some sizing for your pincushion. I promise, being very math-challenged, I've tried to keep this part as painless as possible.

Lay your 6 to 8 yo-yos out side by side, and measure the length of this group, as seen here. You can see that my six 1 3/4" yo-yos measure 10 1/2".


Now all we have to do is take that 10 1/2" and find out what size circle it makes. You could use complicated mathematical formulas for this, but for pete's sake - this is why we have the internet! So go to the Circle Solver Calculator.

The 10 1/2" we measured earlier will be the circumference of our finished pin cushion. So put that number into the calculator and click the magic button. That'll give you the diameter of the finished pincushion - 3.34".

Now, take a deep breath and make some tea. We're nearly done math-ing.


To make my life easier, I popped into my page layout software and drew up a circle with a 3.34" diameter. (You could also draw one by hand.) Then, I added a 1/4" seam allowance all the way around that. (I'll be using this piece as a pattern to make the base pincushion in a moment.)

Next, you're going to need one big yo-yo for the top of your pincushion. In fact, you'll need a yo-yo that's also 3.34" in diameter. To get that, cut a circle of fabric that's twice that diameter, or 6.68".

I used Heather's tutorial to make this big yo-yo.


See? When finished, that 6.68" diameter circle makes a 3.34" yo-yo. And here ends the math-y bit!


So now, you just need to cut out the pieces for the base pincushion. Use that paper pattern we made earlier to cut two circles - one for the top, and one for the bottom. Then, cut a strip for the sides of the pincushion. It should be 1/2" taller than your yo-yos, to allow for seam allowance. And make it about an inch longer than the length we measured in Step 1.

(For my pincushion, the strip is 2 1/4" tall by 11 1/2" long.)


Okay, so let's sew this puppy together! Pin the side strip all the way around the edge of one circle, right sides together.


Sew all the way around the circle, using a 1/4" seam allowance. Then, clip into the seam allowance at intervals, like this. (This helps the curved seam keep a nice, round shape.)


Next, you can sew up that side seam. I added some extra length to the side strip, just to give us some leeway. So, just make the seam wherever the two ends of the fabric meet up against the circle. You want to end up with it looking like this.


Now, pin the second circle to the top edge of the pincushion.

(Dang, guys - I promise to apply some hand lotion before I shoot my next tutorial.)


Sew along the edge of this circle, also with a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave about a 2" gap in the seam. Go ahead and clip into the seam allowance as you did before.


Turn the pincushion right side out and stuff it medium-firmly with some fiberfill. Then hand-sew that opening closed. (It's looking rather cheerful at this point, don't you think?)


Time to add the yo-yos! Take the big one and place it on top of the pincushion. I like to tack it in place by sticking some pins into it, like this. Just be careful as you're hand-sewing that you don't squeeze the pincushion too tightly, or - ouch!


Sew the yo-yo to the pincushion with a tiny whip stitch. I like to use that seam around the edge as my sewing guide.

When you're done sewing, remove all those pins.


With that done, it's time to join your small yo-yos together in a strip. Place two yo-yos back to back, matching up all the edges. Then, thread a needle with single thread and tie a knot in the end. Pass that needle through the top yo-yo only, as shown here.

(Incidentally, that will hide the knot beneath the yo-yo. Tricky, eh?)


Whip stitch the two yo-yos together, using only about 6 to 8 stitches. Knot the thread at the back.

Repeat this process to join the rest of the yo-yos until they form one long strip.


Wrap this strip around the side of the pincushion, and tack it in place with pins. (Same warning as before - don't be squeezing!)


Whip stitch the top and bottom of each yo-yo to the pincushion - again, you can use those seams as a sewing guide.

When I've finished stitching one yo-yo down, I just pass the needle through the pincushion and bring it out where I need to start stitching the next yo-yo.


Lastly, stitch the two end yo-yos together at the side. Remove all those pins.

(Man! My hand-sewing starts to look pretty wonky in the macro lens. I assure you, at actual size, it's much less embarrassing.)


Now, we'll sew a nice, big button to the top of the pincushion. This helps squish it a bit flatter and give it a cuter shape.

Thread a needle with doubled thread, and tie a nice, big knot in the end. Pass the needle through the pincushion from bottom to top, squishing it a little to help the needle reach through.


Next, thread a button onto the needle. Pass the needle back down through the button, as shown. Make several stitches through the pincushion and button like this, pulling them fairly tight, so the shape of the pincushion gets compressed a bit.


Lastly, tie a nice, secure knot in the thread at the bottom of the pin cushion.


If you make one of these, will you please, please upload a picture to the CraftyPod Flickr Group? I'd love to see it!


OMG!!!!! What a great tute! And what a cute idea!!! I am always looking for GREAT ideas to make for my Quilting Bee ladies....amd this is it!!!!
Thank you so much for taking your time to make this and sharing it with all of us!!!! And also, thank you for refering us to the yo-yo tute....I knew how to make them but I am sure this helps beginners!!!

ooh I might just have to make one of these for my mommy for mother's day!

A yo-yo habit? That's a new one. I might just have to get a yo-yo now. I haven't had one in YEARS! Great project!

Ohhh this is cute cute cute! I want one of these for my pin cushion collection. NEED. CRAFTY. TIME. I've been buried under work lately AHHHHHHHHH!

I remember that how my grandmother made this they were so colorful and beautiful. Lovely

Thank you so much for the lovely post, Rita! Wowee, you had them bound and everything!

Really cute! I remember how much I loved making these as a child, but I never really made anything with them. My grandmother once made an entire bedspread with these (that my mother now uses as a tablecloth). For me, a pincushion is a much more doable project.

There is always a need for another pincushion! I like to have one at arm's reach pretty much at all times. And this one is SO cute! Yay for yo-yos. Thanks so much for the fab tutorial, I'll be linking.

Thanks, Deb! If you end up making one, I'd love to see!

Adorable pincushion and fantastic tutorial! Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I am inspired!!!

Yay! I love yo-yos. I use to make pins and refrigerator magnets with them. Feel urge again.

Soo Cute!

you can't hide yo' yo yo love!! this cushion is quite cute (and i have the same problem with wanting to make pincushions...sigh)

Heh! They're so addictive... as are the yo-yos. :-)

Thanks for the 'free'! I've really been enjoying your podcasts on the topic. And after attending the free class, I've realized that it's waaay past time for me to throw up a tutorial on my blog. Never done it, but do I ever use the free ones out there. It's high time I started to give back some of that free.

Thanks, Sarah! I'm looking forward to seeing your tutorial!

Thank you so much, Ronnie! I'm thrilled that you liked the project.
Hope the Quilting Bee has fun with it - if you take any pictures of
their pincushions, I'd love to see!

Is there a way to print this pattern? It's hard going back and forth, It is a very nice pattern Thanks for posting it.

Hi, Pam - thank you! I'm glad you like the how-to. I'm afraid I don't have a printable version. But you can print this post from your internet browser, if you prefer a printed version. Happy yo-yo-making!

I've been looking for something to do with all my little pieces from my granddaughter's sundresses! This is it! Thanks

I have recently found your site and wow your ideas on everything are fantastic.Your tutorials are great they are large and easy to see and follow. I have printed heaps and have alot of sewing ahead of me. I would like to thank you very much for sharing all your ideas. It is very much appreciated especially because they are able to be made very cost effectively and this is a big plus in this day and age. Again my sincere thanks. Gail

Thank you so much, Gail! I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog!

Thank you so much, Gail! I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog!

I have recently found your site and wow your ideas on everything are fantastic.Your tutorials are great they are large and easy to see and follow. I have printed heaps and have alot of sewing ahead of me. I would like to thank you very much for sharing all your ideas. It is very much appreciated especially because they are able to be made very cost effectively and this is a big plus in this day and age. Again my sincere thanks. Gail

What a great, easy to follow tutorial! Maybe I'll try this someday! By the way, I've just published a post on my blog about your ebooks. If you'd like to check it out, it's here
Have a nice day

I love this. Another project to use my yo-yo makers on.

I love love this pin cushion! I am a yo yo nut, so would love to see more ideas with yo yo crafts.

Maravilloso tutorial! Gracias por compartirlo con tod@as nosotr@s! Dan ganas de ponerse ya mismo manos a la obra y hacer uno inmediatamente. Un abrazo

great tutorial, gonna do at least one..................

I had to laugh at the picture at top--I do the same thing of poking holes in spools of thread. Just can't help myself :)

HAHA! Right?! It's like you HAVE TO. :-)