How to make a Cathedral Window Pin Cushion

Play with clever fabric folding to whip up this classic Cathedral Window pin cushion – it's a great way to use up small fabrics scraps and makes a lovely gift for stitchy friends and family members. We'll show you how!


For day 10 of our 12 Days of Christmas, we’re bringing you another lovely little DIY gift idea for quilt fans in the family. This lovely Cathedral Window pin cushions was sewn up by our Technical Editor Laura, as part of a pair of vintage-style sewing table accessories. We’ve brought you the first half of the pair (how to sew a pinwheel needle book) already and now we’re bringing you the pin cushion to complete the set! Read on to find out how to make it…

You will need

  •  Cream fabric – 10in square
  • Green fabric – 4½in square
  • Pink fabric – two (2) 2½in squares
  • Purple fabric – two (2) 2½in squares
  •  Two (2) different green backing fabrics – 2½in x 5in of each
  • Batting – 4½in x 5in
  • Pincushion filling – Laura used ground walnut shells
  • Button*
  • Embroidery floss – optional

Finished size

Approximately 4in square

Fabrics used

Hyde Park by Blackbird Designs for Moda


  • Use a ¼in seam unless otherwise instructed
  •  *We used a self-covering button and a scrap of matching fabric
This project is part of a pair! Stitch a pinwheel needle book to match your pin cushion in our sister post!

How to make the pin cushion

Step 1

Cut each of the pink and purple 2½in squares in half along the diagonal to yield two (2) HSTs from each square.

Step 2

From each of the green backing fabrics cut two (2) 2½in squares.

Step 3

Cut the batting in half to yield two (2) 2¼in x 5in pieces.

Making the Cathedral Window

Step 1

Take your 10in square and with wrong side up, fold a ½in seam over on each edge (Fig 1). Open up and fold in the corners (Fig 2A). Refold the edges to mitre the corners and press well (Fig 2B).

cathedral window pin cushion step 4

Step 2

Fold the piece in half to mark vertical and horizontal creases. Open up (Fig 3).

cathedral window pin cushion step 5

Step 3

Fold each corner in to meet the centre (Fig 4). Press well.

cathedral window pin cushion step 6

Step 4

Repeat step 6 above to fold the new corners in to the centre again and press again.

Step 5

Open up your last four ‘doors’ and insert your green 4 ½in square (Fig 5A). Reclose the doors over the top and pin in place (Fig 5B).

cathedral window pin cushion step 8

Step 6

Sew a few stitches over the points to hold these closed at the centre (Fig 6). These stitches will be hidden by your button later so they don’t need to be too neat.

Step 7

Stitch together one (1) pink and one (1) purple HST along the short edges to make a large triangle (Fig 7). Repeat to make four (4).

cathedral window pin cushion step 10

Step 8

Place each of the four (4) triangle units on top of each flap (Fig 8). Hold the triangles in place with a pin or basting stitch.

Step 9

Roll back the edge of each flap over the top of the pieced triangle, to reveal the green fabric underneath (Fig 9A & Fig 9B). These have bias edges so don’t be afraid to stretch them into a nice curve. Pin in place.

cathedral window pin cushion step 12

Step 10

Stitch along each curve as close to the edge as you can. Remove pins as you go. Trim away any overhang and press the block well before moving on.

Assembling the pin cushion

Step 1

 Sew two (2) 2½in green background squares together. Repeat to make two (2) pieced rectangles.


Step 2

Place these halves together matching the centre seams. Stitch a ¼in seam approximately 1in long from each edge, leaving a gap in the centre for turning through later (Fig 10).

Step 3

Optional – make some tassels with embroidery floss. Take a fork and wrap the floss around the tines 20-30 times. Cut a 5in length of floss and wrap this around your looped thread between the first and second tines. Pull taut and knot several times to secure. Slide the tassel off the fork and cut along the bottom loop to create individual strands. Loop some more floss through the top of the tassel for attaching.

Step 4

Place the pincushion front right side up, placing the tassels in each corner so that the top loop is aligned with the raw edge making sure they won’t get caught in the seam (Fig 11). Place the pincushion back on top, right side down. Finally place the two pieces of batting on top aligned with the raw edges. Pin the layers in place.

  • cathedral window pin cushion step 17

Step 5

Stitch a ¼in seam all around the edge of your sandwich (Fig 12). Backstitch at the end to secure.

Step 6

Clip the corners and turn the pincushion right side out through the hole.

Step 7

Stuff the pincushion until it is nice and firm. Turn under the seam allowance on the back and hand stitch it closed with ladder stitch.

Step 8

Using your thumb and finger, make a divot in the centre of the pincushion. With a long needle and doubled-up thread, stitch a few stitches front to back, right through the centre of the pincushion to draw the centres together. Attach the button to the centre of the front to finish.


Technical tip

A self-covering button made from coordinating fabric gives a professional finish. These come in a range of sizes and all you need is a scrap of fabric cut slightly larger than the button. A self-cover button maker can be purchased to make this step extra easy, but they can still be made without. Sew a line of running stitch around the edge of your scrap, put the button top inside and pull the thread to gather up the edges. Secure with a knot and then clip on the back of the button to finish. Extra points for fussy-cutting the fabric to showcase a pretty motif!