Cactus Pincushion – Arrow Cabinets Blog Hop

Hello to everyone stopping by from Crafty Vegas Mom via the Arrow Cabinets Pincushion Blog Hop!

A couple weeks ago, I read about the Arrow Cabinets “No More Tomatoes” Pincushion contest. (UPDATED: This pincushion WON the contest! WOOT!) I’ve really been loving contests lately! Probably because creativity + deadline = a project that actually gets finished! And I have several unfinished projects lying around here… but that is a post for another day!

The contest had just one rule – no traditional pincushions. So, I came up with this fella here, and I’m GIVING HIM AWAY! (UPDATED: Giveaway closed, but the tutorial below will stay up)

That’s right, follow this blog, and leave a comment on this post, and one lucky reader will get this pincushion in the mail! US residents only. Winner will be picked on Friday 5/20/11. (Updated: Giveaway now closed)

If you’d like to continue on the blog hop, go check out this adorable cherry cupcake at Pink Marigold. or you can keep reading here to for my tutorial on how you can make your own cactus pin cushion!

To make your own cactus pincushion, you’ll need:
Chosen fabric
2.5″ clay pot
Fusible Fleece
Batting scraps
Needle & coordinating thread
Crushed Walnut shells (available at most pet food stores)

You can use any fabric you like, of course, but I found this great Michael Miller Cactus Stripe:
Use Fusible Fleece (the bumpy side is the fusible side), and iron it on to the wrong side of the fabric.
Cut into 3 pieces, each 8.5×14″ (the stripe should run the length of the 14″). Don’t worry if your fusible fleece doesn’t make it quite to the edges of the fabric.
Fold in half, and stitch down the 14″ side, to make a tube. I used a 5/8″ seam allowance.
Using a double strand of thread…
Make a large gathering stitch around one end, about 3/4″ from the top, all the way around so that the end of your stitching matches up with the beginning.
Pull tight and tie… carefully. You don’t want your thread to break!
Stitch near the top several times in a * shape, giving the end extra strength and security.
Then turn the piece right side out. Repeat these steps with the other two pieces.
Tear up your batting scraps into small pieces.
Put one of the pieces, sewn end down, into a cup.
Stuff the batting pieces down to the bottom, covering the end. This is so that none of the crushed walnut shells accidentally slip through any small holes at the top.
Pour in the crushed walnut shells. These are awesome for pin cushions. A 5qt bag costs less than $5. Find it in the reptile section of the pet store.
Fill about 1/2 way up…
Then twist the top, and swing it around, forcing all the shell bits to compact at the end.ย 
You’ll end up doing this several times, but you want to have those walnut shells REALLY compacted in there so that your cactus will stand up straight.
Once it is well compacted, and full to about 2″ from the top, sit down, and put the cactus between your legs so that it won’t tip over during this next step.
Fold the top down…
Then fold the other side down. You want to make sure that you’re keeping the fabric nice and tight.
Then stitch the opening closed. You’ve finished the main body of the cactus! Try fitting it into your clay pot to make sure it fits okay. If it is too high up, you can always put pennies in the base to balance it so it won’t tip over.
ย For the arms, follow the previous steps, filling the pieces only partway with walnut shells (3″ for the short arm, 4.5″ for the long arm). Once you have the shells compacted in there, cover the end with some more batting so that the walnut shells don’t pour all over the place as you’re making the shape. Start pulling the fabric up on one side, making a crease.
Keep creeping the fabric up… this is kind-of tricky, but it is similar to hiking up nylon stockings when they’ve fallen… you’re just doing the same thing on one side of the cactus.
Once you’ve achieved an angle you like, pin the sides and use tiny stitches to secure.
Cut off the top, and fold in the sides, filling the hollow up with batting. You’ll want this part between the bend and the end to be only 1-2″.
Choose where you’d like the arm on the cactus to go, then pin all the way around, securing the arm in place. Step back to make sure you like the placement, then stitch all the way around using tiny stitches. You may want to stop every inch or two to add several stitches in place, just in case the thread breaks at some point in the future.
Now you’re all done, and you can photograph your cactus in its “Natural Habitat!”
I actually went to the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory Botanical Garden to take my pictures. It is only a few minutes away from where I work, and although I felt a little silly carrying around a cactus… I had a lot of fun!
Plus, there was chocolate! : )
Remember to follow this blog and leave a comment to be entered to WIN this pincushion (sorry – US residents only)! (Updated: giveaway closed).
Then go satisfy your sweet tooth with Pink Marigold’s Cherry Cupcake, then go on to check out all the other “Non-tomato” pincushions!



  1. Very cute idea! I am intrigued by the walnut shells…

  2. Carolina, I think this might be my favorite thing you’ve made yet!

  3. Anonymous says

    This is so darn cute! I love it! Thanks for the info on where to get the walnut shells, those are great for pin cushions.

  4. cute pin cushion idea..


    Please visit my blog if you get a chance. I did not post today because we have a job going on at our house…storm damage from last week clean up

    but when I start posting again…I will have giveaways..

  5. I just love your pin cushion, so cute! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I follow your blog, thanks to Arrow Cabinets!

  6. MaryW-Kansas says

    Such a unique idea! I’m glad you posted the directions so I can make one myself!!

  7. Awesome idea! I’m sure it’ll look great with needles sticking out too.

  8. soo darn cute love love love it.

  9. This is so cute and unique! Great tip for the walnut shells too!

  10. What a creative pin cushion. I love it.
    cstephenson at q dot com

  11. VERY nicely done tutorial and thanks for the tip on the crushed walnut shells. I have heard they are excellent for pincushions but had to clue where to purchase them.

  12. Adorable pin cushion! Thanks for the walnut shell info! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. what a fabulous pin cushion!!! living in the desert like you i appreciate the cactus! LOVE IT

  14. HAHA I thought you used a real cactus…until I realized you actually made it…GREAT JOB! I love this!

  15. That is so smart! I wondered how you got it to stand.

  16. Anonymous says

    cute pin cushion!

    Karla Schroeder

  17. What a great pin cushion. So creative. Looked real in the pic.

  18. Wonderful idea and execution! So very creative! I applaud you!

  19. I was wondering where you’d found all the great cacti. What a great place to do a photo shoot!

  20. Guess what we’re making when we study desert biomes! This would be perfect to use. Btw…its cute really cute!

  21. Creativity is such a gift! Thank you for sharing.

    Marny CA

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