How-Tuesday: Wrist Pincushion

Welcome to how-Tuesday, wherein your humble host documents a crafty project or activity, with photos and instructions to hone and expand your repertoire of crafty activities, tasty treats, and handmade delights.

Today is the first of what I hope will be many installments. We are going to start off pretty simply, by making something every craftress needs: a handy-dandy wrist pincushion.

First, a confession: I have a weakness for things that I can attach to my person. This stems from a weakness I have for losing everything, always. I make little clutch purses that clip on my belt loop because occasionally I go to some type of bar or club-type establishment, and I will either lose my purse, or hit someone with it while I’m trying to dance around. Or both.

I also lose things when they are right beside me. I will set my scissors down on the couch, and they will slide in between the cushions and then I will spend twenty minutes trying to remember where I put them. I will set down a knitting needle momentarily, and I will never see it again. Sometimes I do this with a sewing needle that I have threaded, and I don’t know if I stuck it on my own clothes, or the garment I am sewing, or if it just fell on the floor. Five days later, my husband will find the missing needle, usually with his bare foot. He does not care for this even a little bit. And I don’t blame him. So, to help with that, I recently made this little gem

It’s a little pincushion, and it velcroes to my wrist. Now, I am certainly not the first person to think of this. And they are commercially available. But this one is cuter, and you can make one in the charming fabric of your choice through the following process

Fabric of your choosing (I recommend calico or other cotton fabric)
Fiber-fil or other stuffing/batting
Medium-weight Interfacing (I always use fusible)
¾” or 1” wide Velcro

Needle (or sewing machine)
Chalk or dressmakers pencil
Ruler & measuring tape

You’ll see that I used a fat quarter I bought from a craft store for $1.99. I used less than half of it. You can use scraps from other projects to make this–all of the materials are used in small amounts.

Step 1: Mark wrist band

let’s take out or fabric, and lay it right side-down on a flat surface so we can mark our measurements. Get out your chalk (or pencil) & ruler here.

First, measure the wrist band. My wrist is approximately 7” around. I’m going to need extra for both seam allowance, and for overlap from the Velcro, so  10″ is what I used. If you have extremely skinny or fat wrists, adjust accordingly.

Then measure down 3” and make a line there. Make sure you have two straight lines that intersect at right angles. You have the start to a 10″ by 3″ rectangle. Go on now and finish marking the rectangle off.

There you have your cut lines for the wrist band.

Step 2: Mark pin cushion
For this one, we’re going to make a big circle. Circles are hard to make properly, so I just traced a cereal bowl. I’m sure you have one of those.

Step 3: Cut out

Now go on and cut out your pincushion & wrist band!

Step 4: Lining the wristband

Using the same measurements as the wrist band (or just using the wrist band itself as a pattern) cut out a piece of fusible interfacing. Following the interfacing’s instructions, iron the wristband & lining together.

Step 5: Sew wristband

Then fold the wristband in half longways, now you have a skinny rectangle. Sew it up the long end, then turn it right side-out.

Here’s how I turn straps and other long, skinny things: first, take a safety pin and stick it in one of the corners

Then push the pin down the center “tunnel” with your thumb. It will take the strap with it, and help turn it right side-out.

It’s a little finicky at first, but once you’ve pushed the pin through the other end, you can just give it a pull, and the whole thing should be right.

Next, give it a press. I like to do so with the seam in the center bottom, so it doesn’t show.

While you’ve got the iron out, turn the ends under, and press them that way.

Step 6: add Velcro

Cut an inch to two inches of Velcro, and separate the hook side from the loop side. Pin the hook to the outside of one end, and the loop to the underside of the other end.
We’re going to sew close the raw edges on the end  of the wrist strap at the same time as we attache the velcro, so make sure your stitch runs through all the layers of fabric/velcro.

Step 7: Sew Pincushion

To make your round circle of fabric into a cushion, first, you’ll need to stitch along the outer edge of the whole circle. I just use a needle & thread, because sewing circles on a sewing machine is kind of a pain, and because this part will just be gathered up underneath the wrist strap.

Tighten your thread a bit, and the flat circle will start to close up into a little pocket. At this point, you will want to stuff it full of fiber-fill or cotton batting or whatever stuffing material you have procured. When it is full, just tighten the thread all the way, and you’ll have this:

Stitch over the center closure a few times to make sure that it stays closed.

Step 8: sew wristband to pincushion

Pin the cushion to the wristband center. Then, using a needle & thread, run a whipstich around the edges to hold it tight.

Hey, we’re done! Put on that pincushion and sew something (else)!


Happy Father’s Day


To my father, who always looks out for me,  even though that once more than once meant driving three hours to my college town to fix the fan belt on my ancient Volkswagen. To my father-in-law, who, when asked to lend us a tool, instead came over and completed the job we wanted to use the tool for, because he is that generous. And, to my husband, who is not a dad yet, but who is so loving and strong, I know he will be a total pro at it someday.

Happy Father’s Day!


Today, boys and girls, I would like to talk to you about faith.

Not religion or “spirituality” or being connected with the oneness of being or any of that; it’s really more of a selfish thing. It’s about faith, and confidence.

I’m one of those people who has always thought of herself as confident.  I don’t mind getting up in front of people, especially to make them laugh. Public speaking doesn’t fill me with the dread of death that most people seem to experience.

My attitude has always been one of confidence: I know myself and my own abilities.  I also know that most people are so busy worrying about what they know and what they look like that much of the time they won’t even notice if I say something inelegant or get the wrong answer or if my pants size has two digits in it. I’m confident in my ability to put myself out there, and just let that be me. Of course I’m confident: I have a blog! I think such important things that I have to put them out there for the whole internets to see. That’s confident!

But here lately, I’ve been thinking about confidence in a new way and, well, I’m not sure I’m confident in my confidence anymore.

Maybe I’m a confidence fraud, because when I say I’m confident, I just mean I’m fun at parties. Sometimes I don’t feel confident that I can make my dreams come true. Sometimes I’m not confident that I can work hard or be smart enough to build the life I want to live. I say I’m confident, and I thought that was what I wanted to be, but it’s not. I don’t really want confidence—I want faith.

Confidence is external; it’s what you project to others. Faith is internal; it’s what you have in the dark and lonely night. Both are good and right and important, but faith is what really gets you through.

Faith in myself, to accomplish the big goals I have, but am sometimes scared to write down. Faith that I can go the next step, get promoted or published, or bring a new product to market.

Faith in my body and its abilities. I have a chronic (but completely non-life-threatening) illness and for the past few years I’ve felt betrayed by my body, because it was attacking itself—attacking me—for no discernable reason. I feel lately I’ve been selling it short, filling it with junk food and chemicals and then feeling disappointed and angry when it didn’t perform to my standards.

If I were confident in my body—if I had faith in it—I’d give it what it needed and let it do its work. If I were confident in my abilities, I’d do the same. I’d make space in my life to be creative, and have faith it would flow. I wouldn’t be “too busy” to finish a project, (but not too busy to stay up to date on the Daily Show) because I’d make the time for something I was confident would be a success.

If I had faith in my work, I’d never excuse my work by saying “Oh, this is just a picture from my phone, it’s not very good.” Or “It’s kind of wonky on one side because I have a terrible sewing machine.” I’d put my best work out there, and have faith others would see that it is as good as I think it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I like myself; I think I’m smart and creative and witty. I am proud of my projects, including this site. But too often I, and maybe a lot of people like me, project an outward confidence, when what we really want and need is internal faith.

I want to have more faith in my abilities, in my ideas, in my very being. That’s part of the Uglythreads project: my quest to make beautiful things and give them to the world. Sometimes it’s a photo montage, or a sewing tutorial, sometimes it’s handmade socks, and sometimes it’s a story about the things that I think we all share deep down inside.

I want to hear your story, too. What would your life be like if you had more faith?