Got orphan quilt blocks? There’s a pincushion collection in your future

Pincushion from Simple AppealRaise your hand if you’re a Kim Diehl fan! I know that there are a LOT of you out there joining me as I wave wildly. As if Kim’s beautiful patterns aren’t enough, her books have the added value of her “Pin Point” tips sprinkled throughout. If you can’t have Kim in the room with you while you sew, then these tips are the next best thing! (See 25 of Kim’s “Pin Point” tips in this post.)

Recently, I came across a couple of English-paper-pieced blocks that I’d made that didn’t end up in a project. I thought about making them into mug rugs or coasters but just didn’t feel inspired—not to mention the fact that I didn’t want them to end up with coffee stains on them! Then, I remembered one of Kim’s Pin Points, and my problem was solved. The tip comes from Kim’s recent book, Simple Friendships, which she co-authored with Jo Morton.


Kim DiehlWhen I make scrappy quilts, I like to stitch a handful of extra blocks for added choices as the design is laid out. I found that my leftover “orphan” Old Italian blocks could be repurposed beautifully to make sweet little pincushions. To do this, I layered a finished block with a coordinating print 5½" square, right sides together, and joined the pieces, leaving a 2″ opening on one side for turning.

Pincushions from orphan quilt blocks
Kim’s Old Italian block pincushion

Next, to box the corners, I pulled the front and back pieces apart at one corner, laid the unit flat on my cutting mat with the corner pointing upward and the seam centered and running vertically, and used a pencil and acrylic ruler to draw a horizontal line across the corner (through the seam) ½" down from the stitched point. After pinning, I repeated with the remaining corners, and then stitched each corner on the drawn line (beginning and ending with a few backstitches), before trimming away the corners to leave ¼" seam allowances.

To complete the pincushion, I turned the unit right side out, filled it with crushed walnut shells (which was easy to do using a quart-size ziplock bag and snipping one corner for pouring), and hand stitched the opening closed. These are super-fast to stitch, super cute, and make great gifts for quilting friends.


Pincushions! Can we ever have enough? I have a bunch of them and I never mind getting a new one as a gift. I keep the ones I’m not using in a basket, looking ever-so-cute, on a shelf in my sewing room. I try to swap them out occasionally, but I seriously enjoy just looking at them and remembering who and/or where they came from.

Pincushion collection
My pincushion collection

Simple FriendshipsYou can see more from Kim and Jo’s book, Simple Friendships, in this post.

What happens to YOUR leftover blocks?

a) They languish in my scrap bin
b) I use them on the back of my quilt
c) I repurpose them

Tell us in the comments!

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