Easy embroidered pin cushion

Embroider a pretty new addition to your sewing kit with Mollie Johanson’s DIY pincushion project – decorated with pistil stitch stars.

Pistil stitch pin cushion

Pistil stitch is an easy-to-learn embroidery stitch that is worked in a similar way to a French knot. It’s called pistil as it resembles the pistil of a flower. Learn how to master this clever little stitch, and whip up a cute pin cushion as you go, with our step by step guide.


You Will Need

  • Linen fabric (15x15cm (6x6in))
  • Cotton fabric (11x11cm (4 3⁄8 x 4 3⁄8 in)), For the backing
  • Perle cotton thread (Size 8 – in a selection of colours of your choice)
  • Polyester filling
  • Crushed walnut shells (Or your choice of pincushion filler)
  • Basic sewing kit

Total time:

How to work pistil stitch

Step 1

Bring the needle up through the fabric at one end of the stitch. Wrap the working thread around the needle twice, just as you would with a French knot.

How to work pistil stitch step 1

Step 2

Insert the needle in the fabric at the other end of the stitch. Keep the needle part way through the fabric as you start to pull the working thread taut.

How to work pistil stitch step 2

Step 3

Hold the working thread with one hand as you pull the needle through the rest of the way.


Step 4

Continue pulling the thread through as the knot at the end of the pistil stitch tightens.

How to work pistil stitch step 3

Tracing the design

Step 1

Trace the embroidery template from our Pistil stitch embroidery pattern

Step 2

Place the main fabric centrally on top and hold in place with masking tape.

Step 3

Trace over all the lines using a pencil or an erasable pen. If you can’t see the design very well then simply tape the template and fabric onto a window so the light shines through.

Working the embroidery

Step 1

Using one strand of the Perle cotton, start by working the Pistil stitch stars following the pistil stitch instructions above.

Step 2

Work the dots between the stars as French knots in a contrast colour.

Step 3

The small stars, which are between the large pistil stitch stars, are worked as three straight stitches crossing over each other in the centre to form little star shapes.

Making the pincushion

Step 1

Trim the stitched fabric to 11x11cm (438 x 438 in) with the design placed centrally.

How to work pistil stitch step 4

Step 2

Pin the stitched fabric and backing fabric right sides (RS) facing.

Step 3

Sew together, leaving a 2.5cm (1in) gap in the centre of one side for turning and backstitch at the start and finish to secure.

Step 4

Trim the corners and turn the pincushion RS out, poking the corners into shape.

Step 5

Fill the pincushion, alternating between polyester stuffing and crushed walnut shells or your choice of pincushion filler.

How to work pistil stitch step 5

Step 6

Slip stitch or ladder stitch the opening closed for an invisible seam.

Crushed walnut shells make a great filler as they keep your pins sharp - you can find them in pet shops.

Tying the corners

Step 1

Finish the corners by wrapping each one wiht Perle cotton and tying with a doubled knot on the underside.

How to work pistil stitch step 6

Step 2

Trim the excess thread to finish.

How to embroider a pin cushion