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What do you get for the novice seamstress, who recently purchased a sewing machine, but hasn’t declared mastery or preference of any garment or craft? You stick with the basics and get them a pin cushion — better yet, you make them one!

I was reading a BuzzFeed article on gifts you can DIY, and I came across this delightful cactus pincushion tutorial.


However, none of these shapes really tickled my fancy, so I went searching for pinspiration on the internet. To my surprise, I was unable to find any step-by-steps for saguaro-shaped cacti. I chose the saguaro for it’s easily-anthropomorphized look (source).

Telepathic stuntman

So, I was the master of my own sandbox in creating a pattern. I used my tiny pot as a guide, to ensure that the scale was appropriate and my cactus wouldn’t topple. I used a stiffened felt (lighter green) as an internal base, and regular felt (darker green) on the outside. Three layers of felt might not seem like much, but for a small project like this, it was a little bulky.

After cutting out my shape, I sewed the edges with a whip stitch – hoping that it would not only hold the filler in better, but that it would allow more room for the filler. The cactus was rather petite, and I wanted to maintain as much internal space as possible. I chose a puce colored thread, seeing the contrast as almost cartoonish. There was a point where the thread got knotted beyond repair, so that’s the “bud” on the side of the cactus arm. Saguaros do bloom, though typically white and yellow – but I chose red for a Christmas-y and more vibrant touch.

I filled the pincushion with rice — though I’ve heard that rice isn’t ideal for “nice” pins (see: I didn’t know there were “bad” pins…) — so next time I’d listen to Martha and use fiberfill, which apparently sharpens and cleans your needles.tAB - cactus craft (12) (450x800)

Once finished, I nestled the base of the felt cactus into the clay pot, using glass decorative fillers (like for fishbowls or vases) as weights. Hot glue was best for this task, as it could sink into crevices and fill the base for stability.

Tada! Carlos the cactus (named by the recipient) was born and is ready for use!

tAB - cactus craft (19) (450x800)

The project wasn’t difficult but was a little time consuming. If you have tiny hands – or, better – make a larger cactus, that might help the process along. This turned out way better than expected, and I don’t think he’ll be my last!