Monday, July 7, 2008

The Essentials.

I'm often asked questions regarding what I use to make my pincushions with, particularly how I cut such fine shapes. So I thought I'd do a post on my short list of tools and materials I use.

I'm blessed in my location I have four Hobby Lobbies, a plethora of Joann's (including a Joann Superstore) and a myriad of Micheals, as well as a few other chains, and count them TWO needlework stores within 40 miles of my house. A simple 15 minutes in any direction will have me in a craft store, sometimes more than two. I know not everyone is so lucky, but online stores are your friend for most of this. I buy my stuff in a combination of in stores and online. With gas prices anymore, it's cheaper to pay for shipping versus driving for it.

As far as cutting shapes: I cheat.

I use a discontinued scrapbooking product by Sizzix called a Paddle Punch. You can really on find them on ebay anymore as well as craiglist. And if you can get them for $2 or less a piece before shipping, that's a deal considering they sold for $6 each in stores.

Find them on ebay with this link - some weeks have more than others. I have a search set up there to mail me when new ones are listed.

One of the best stores to get them at on ebay is the Sizzix Outlet, they sell a great number of paddle punches, including the cutting mats. Paddles are available for $1 and they also have bulk lots as well. BEST DEAL ON EBAY.

There are over 50 patterns that were made, but all are small, most under 1.5 inches. There are a few kinds of leaves, with Holy and Oak being the two hardest to find, as well a couple kinds of flowers, and lots of geometrics. Also some specialty shapes that I'll never likely use but I bought them in case I ever needed them. I recommend getting any you might want remotely want in duplicate, as in time these won't be available anymore. I have some of my most used ones in triplicate. And if the handle breaks off one, I don't throw it away, it goes into my "last resort" box.

There is a "paddle punch hammer" but truth is since I am using them for felt, I by pas it for a "lady hammer" or a picture hammer, with a bottlecap taped over the head to not mar the punch. I also use a 16 oz rubber mallet from a hardware store. Both can be under $4 each. Which one you use depends on the shape, I find some work better with one or the other, so I have both.

To use them I stack 4 to 5 layers of felt, on top of two sheets of paper (good use for junk mail, old magazines, or even scrap printer paper) on top of the Sizzix punch matt. It Is a extremely heavy matt and I do recommend them, they do hold up more than normal cutting mats I used before hand. Basically just try the hammers out till you find the ones that works best, some will need several hits around the edges, others can do just one swift solid thud to the center. You'll just have to figure out what each ones needs. You'll learn soon enough.

Other tools I use:

  • Variety of scissors: Shears for cutting & and sharp tipped ones for fine details and embroidery

  • Thread snippers - very useful for more than thread. I use them to also trim small corners and cut circles into "flowers" and take out stitches.

  • Doll needles are essential to put in the buttons on thick pincushions. I have quite a collection. some from as long as some super heavy 8 inches long all the way down to 4". When I found the 8" ones it was the fleamarket and I squealed in joy, they are really hard to find. Dritz makes a nice thinner 5" model available most everywhere, it has the bonus that it will also go through most buttonholes. Unlike my thick 8 inchers that can also kill a man.
My Materials:
  • 100% post consumer recycled synthetic felt from Kunin. Joann's carries this brand, but most stores have a very limited selection, you need to go to (search for "kunin felt"), they have the entire line - but you can only get 24 sheets of a color minimum. So use it for the colors you need a lot of or what you can't ind locally, or sell the rest!

  • 012007_craftthread006 I use Pearl/Perle cotton size 5 for the embroidery and construction. I also use Craft Thread, which is a cheaper version, but comes in bulk pack, and its nice for starting off with and then widening out to Pearl #5. I don't like using Embroidery Floss, it's not strong enough and the skeins while cheap are not very long. There are 27 yards in a skein of Pearl cotton. I have a DMC thread guide (thank you Micheals 50% off coupon) and I order any colors I can't get at craft stores from Herrschers or at a local needlepoint store.

  • Just ordinary polyfil for the inside.

  • I get my fabric sticky labels that I "sign" my work with from Camillesquilts on etsy. Take a look! They stick FABULOUS on felt!

My new labels from camillesquilts

Hope this was useful for you, let me know if you have any further questions!


Julia said...


Thanks so much!! I was driving crazy looking for that little things to help me doing easy the task of cutting as my hands doesn´r have any force!!

The whole article is SO interesting, it is such a great help, Muchas gracias!!!


Yarni Gras! said...

Thank you for all this information. I am making my first pincushion for a swap! Needless to say, I want it to be beautiful even if it is my first effort. You have a great way of explaining things thoroughly.
Thank you!

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