Scrap-Busting Series / Meditative Pincushion
Have you ever asked yourself the question, why do I create things? I bet you do it unconsciously. I know I do. Sometimes I consciously ask myself this question, usually when I'm frustrated and with a seam ripper in hand. Despite past failure and frustration, somehow, I always find my way back to that place between stitches, making something. Why do I do it? Probably for the same reason that most of us do it. I think we all create for the love of it, why else would we do something that we don't have to? We can buy sweaters and dresses, quilts, bags, home decor, and art made by others, that would truly be a simpler, quicker way to attain things. So what is it about making, about craft in all its various forms, that we truly love? What drives us to create over and over again? What about it brings us back to the sewing machine, to the knitting needles, to needle and thread, to the camera, to the keyboard? Is it the excitement for what we will have in the end? Is it the feeling we get while in the midst of making? Is it the way that creating things with our hands has the power to slow us down and ground us? I think perhaps it's a bit of them all and even others unmentioned.
When I think about the reasons I make, there are many. The truth is that I create because I have to, I don't really find it a choice but rather a necessity. Words and ideas flow out of me and beg to be made whole and brought to life. Is there anything more fulfilling than nurturing a dream and bringing it to life? Maybe that's part of it, making is a way we get to dream out loud and with our hands. Isn't that a beautiful thought? In a fast-paced world where we're conditioned to forget our child-like sense of wonder and forgo the play of youth that shaped our minds, taking the time to slow down and create as adults is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. There are times when I think that being creative and making art is vitally important.
Being creative, for many of us, is an outlet. It's a way to express ourselves, be free, it's a way to escape, and it's a way to create beauty, especially during the times that may feel a little darker, times like now during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though I believe art is always important, there are seasons like now when we can lean into it more heavily for relief, for comfort, for joy.
Sometimes when it feels like the weight of the world is upon my shoulders, the last thing I want to do is take on a large project. I still have the desire to create something beautiful, so instead of taking on something big, I find a small project, one that can be done slowly with love with tenderness. I peruse the older issues of Making, looking for something to reach out toward me, to make me feel inspired, and I find it in the Meditative Pincushion project by Sanae Ishida from Making No. 3 / DOTS. This project, I think to myself, could be just what I need. It's simple, small, incorporates hand sewing, and even has the word meditation in its name; I'm not sure it could get more perfect than that. So I get to work, allowing myself the space to dream out loud with my hands. I gather together scraps from previous projects and get to making. Time stills a little, and I find a peace I've been searching for while I make those tiny stitches.
Sewing Notes & Tips
This is a simple project that doesn't take much time, which is why I found myself sewing up a second pincushion. There's so much room for creativity with this tiny project, and it's an excellent way to use up scraps and fiber waste. The Meditative Pincushion can be found on pages 26-29 of Making No. 3 / DOTS. Keep reading for the details!
Creating the Pattern
The pattern template for this project can be found on page 27 at the beginning of the project instructions. I tried copying the page with my scanner, but it didn't pick up on the light blue color. What ended up working for me was finding an object with a round bottom as close in size to the template as possible to trace. I tried a few different things, but a candle I have ended up working perfectly.
Since this project is physically so small, I wanted to make these pincushions from scraps. For the two I made, I used scraggly scraps from the Starry Sky Skirt and Chaparral Overalls. There's such little fabric needed that I could probably make hundreds from my scraps. You too? I think these would make lovely little gifts.
Hand Sewing Design
In the pattern, Sanae incorporates a beautiful Japanese style of Sashiko embroidery for the top of the pincushion. For my first one, I used a scrap of our Angry Flower Linen that's printed with modern floral shapes. I've used this fabric quite a bit, and adore the print, so I wanted to highlight that on my pincushion. Still using free-spirited running stitches, I let the fabric design lead the way. I traced a few circles around different flowers and ended up going with one that seemed more simple to follow and also included a few wavy lines so that it didn't end up looking too cluttered. I finished the main flower with a few French knots, and couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out. The only disappointing thing was how quickly I finished it. Since I had flowers on my mind, I quickly whipped up another, this time embroidering the same little flowers I created on the Emerald Dress, which are part of the Wildflower Project Bag by Melissa Wastney from Making No. 5 / COLOR.
Since this project is a scrap-buster, I had this idea of using fiber waste to stuff it. This includes serger tails, smalls thread clipping, tiny pieces of fabric, yarn scraps, and other miscellaneous pieces of fiber that I'd typically recycle with the rest of my fabric scraps. I've been saving some of them for a while and wondered how they'd work for this pincushion. What amazed me was how much fiber I could stuff into this little thing! I filled up the clay-colored pincushion entirely with fiber waste and ended up using what was left in combination with fiberfill for the grey one. After they were sewn shut, I realized I prefer the one filled solely with fiber waste as it was a bit heavier and more stable than the one filled with fiber waste and fiberfill. It occurred to me how incredible it is that this project could be made entirely of material that might be considered trash, which makes it just about the most sustainable project ever.
If you're looking for a simple sewing project to remind you of the joy that comes from creating something beautiful, I'd highly recommend this project which is part of our Scrap-Busting series Often, the reason we make becomes increasingly apparent when we create smaller, and seemingly insignificant, yet useful things to be a part of and bring beauty to our everyday lives.