Make Every Scrap Count Pincushion

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Finished Size: 4 1/2˝ × 4 1/2˝ 

Technique: Overlap Method

Keep this little pincushion in your sewing room as the perfect reminder to save your selvages. It features just the numbered dots for a great, graphic look. 


Tip: This pincushion is the perfect place to show off selvages with novelty-shaped color windows! They can really add interest to a small project like this.

  • Solid fabric: 1 square at least 5˝ × 5˝ for back
  • Narrow-cut selvages: 9–11 strips, each at least 5˝ long with numbered color windows showing
  • White fabric scrap: 1 rectangle at least 1˝ × 5˝
  • Small amount of polyester stuffing or other filling of your choice
  • Glue stick
  • White thread 



Cut 1 square 5˝ × 5˝.


Cut 9 strips 5˝ long to start. Cut additional strips, if needed, as you go during construction.


Cut 1 rectangle 1˝ × 5˝ 


Use a 1/4˝ seam allowance throughout.

Make the Front

1. Start with a scrap rectangle. 

2. Choose a selvage strip. Using the glue stick, apply a line of glue along the back of the white selvage part. Lay this selvage on top of the scrap so that the white selvage part is overlapping it by at least a 1/4˝ along the whole length. 

Tip: I’m going to reiterate this point because it is so super-duper important: Do not ever be stingy on that 1/4˝ overlap. That is the minimum suggested. The overlapping area is your seam allowance. The last thing you want is to make a beautiful quilt and then have it pull apart when you’re using it because your seams are too narrow. Feel free to overlap by more than 1/4˝ if you wish. 

To help keep your overlapping selvage straight, find something in the fabric pattern beneath it to help line it up. You can also check by placing your ruler over top of it. Or, my preferred method is to trust my eyes. Once it is nicely in position, smooth it into place. 

3. Choose a second selvage piece, apply glue, and place it over the first, again making sure at least a 1/4˝ overlaps. It should be both straight and parallel to the first selvage. Use your ruler to verify if you’d like. Smooth it into place. Choose a third selvage, glue, and smooth. 

Tip: Your completed block will look better if a bit of fabric shows at each end. As you add selvages, use your ruler to check the width of the block, keeping the finished measure-ment in mind. Plan ahead and adjust the amount you overlap a few selvages so when you finish and trim your block, some fabric remains on both sides. (The scrap fabric should be at one end, and the fabric strip left on the top selvage should be at the other.) 

Check the width of your block as you go. 

4. Continue choosing and gluing selvages until your block is slightly wider than the size you need. The number of selvages you use will depend on a combination of how wide the selvages were cut in the first place and how much you overlap them. You don’t have to use selvages that are all the same width. A little variety is nice. 

Tip: The amount of fabric you leave showing between the selvages is up to you. In general, I find that smaller blocks look better with smaller amounts of fabric showing and larger blocks look better with more showing. 

Let the glue dry. It shouldn’t take long. Then move on to sewing.

5. Using white thread, topstitch along the outside edge of the first selvage piece. The purpose of sewing close to the edge now is so that later when the piece is quilted, the edge of the selvage won’t be snagged or flipped up and then be quilted down folded. (This I know from experience.) Don’t worry that it will not be strong enough or that it will all pull loose when the quilt is used. The selvage edge is different from the rest of the fabric; it is a sturdy, finished edge that will not fray. 

You might want to position your needle in the middle of the presser foot to help you see what you’re doing.

Notice how close the stitched line is to the selvage edge. (Note: The orange thread is used here only to show the stitches better. Sew yours with white thread.)

6. Topstitch all of the other selvages. Press.

Tip: If you are sewing a selvage that has a shaggy finish, consider the part where the shaggy bits start to be the edge. Sew just inside that edge in the solid white section.

7. Use a ruler and rotary cutter to trim your block to 5" x 5". When trimming, make sure that at least 1/4˝ of fabric is showing on each end. There should be a scrap piece on one end and a wide-cut selvage piece on the other. Use your ruler to check and carefully consider what will be left on each side before you cut. Because the narrow-cut selvages are edged with only 1/4˝ of colored fabric, each colored section will be covered up when you overlap the adjoining strip. Only the white selvage parts will show on the front of the pincushion. It will likely take 9 or 10 selvages to complete the block. If it takes more or fewer strips, that’s fine.

Tip: When trimming the block to size, it is okay (and best) to keep the 1/4˝ of colored fabric on the last (top) selvage. This bit of fabric will be stitched into the seam, so it will not show on the finished pincushion. 

Sew the Pincushion

1. Place the selvage pincushion front and the 5˝ square back right sides together. Sew around the outside with a 1/4˝ seam, leaving a 1˝ opening on the bottom edge. Backstitch to secure the seam on both sides of the opening.

2. Trim corners at a diagonal and turn right side out. Use a pen (with the cap on), knitting needle, or another blunt-tipped tool to push the corners all the way out.

Finish the Pincushion

1. Fill with polyester stuffing or whatever filling you’ve chosen.

2. Use a ladder stitch to hand-sew the opening closed.

Load with pins and enjoy! Then find more selvage projects to sew in Modern Selvage Quilting

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