I came across this challenge http://www.boogaj.com/pincushion_challenge/2006/04/first_pincushio.html
and felt inspired. (Definitely check out the gallery, everyone's pincushions look great!)
I modeled my pincushion after an orange crate. The base is foam with a green fabric cover with little cups to hold each orange. My Dad helped me make the crate itself, which is just scrap molding. Each orange can be lifted out for doing little projects away from the machine.
The whole project was a great excuse to finally use all that geometry I learned in ninth grade.
That's right. Geometry is useful sometimes.
The orange stands alone.
As requested, I'm posting the following tutorial. This is my first tutorial, so please bear with me
Pattern piece "A", the large pointy oval is the piece I used to make all of the oranges. They were really simple spheres divided into fourths, but I wanted each orange to be 2" in diameter. This will be important later. So piece "A" is 1.57" across and 3.14" tall with a .25" seam allowance all around. You sew 4 of these together to make your oranges, don't forget to leave room to turn it rightside out and stuff it! I added a little ultrasuede stem bit on top, as well.
Because the oranges are squishy, and I wanted them to fit snugly, I based the "cup" pattern on piece "A". So piece "B" is the cup pattern, you make four for each orange. It is piece "A" cut exactly in half with a .25" seam allowance added.
I'll get to "C" and "D" in a bit. On to the grid!
So this is my grid. This is the piece for the very top of the crate where you fit your cups into. I wanted them spaced evenly, hence the crazy grid. So I said before that I wanted my oranges to be 2" in diameter, and this is why. I wanted the crate (without the wood) to measure 5" x 8" and each orange .5" from the next. You can see where I sketched in one circle for reference. The holes mark the center of each orange as well as where each seam is for both the cups and the orange. I marked these holes on the fabric for reference. This piece also has .25" seam allowance on each side.
As you may have guessed, piece "C" is like a "bird's eye view" of the oranges. It's just a circle with a 2" diameter which I laid on my fabric and traced, using the holes from the grid to line it up. This gave me a sew line when I went to sew in the cups. "D" is another circle but with a 1.5" diameter to allow for seam allowance which I also traced onto the fabric inside of where I traced "C". Then I cut out the fabric from that area, along the "D" line. When you look at your fabric now, you should have six small evenly spaced circles cut out with a circle around those holes (where you had traced "C" before). DO NOT cut along the "C" line! That would leave you with zero seam allowance!
So then you have your six little cups you've made from piece "B" plus this rectangular piece of fabric with holes and markings. Carefully pin each cup into a hole, lining up your seam allowances and the dots (from the grid) with each seam on the cups, right sides together. Sew the cups in. This part is tricky and (for me) slightly scary but it's 100% worth it when you see all your little cups sewn in
Clip the edge of the circle that you just sewed to make the cups lie flat. Pat yourself on the back and be happy you only have to do that once
The cups should look like this when sewn together:
In this picture you can see the grid again, plus the pattern pieces for the sides of the foam part that sits inside of the wood. These pieces are 5"x2" and 8"x2" plus .25" seam allowances. Cut out two of each of these plus one more "grid" piece (but don't bother with all of the holes this time, this is for the bottom) out of your fabric. Sew them up to make a nifty fabric box shape with little fabric cups on top
Leaving one side open to slip in your foam later.
On to the foam! I used high-density foam, which they sell at Jo-Ann's and other places for upholstery and stuff. Using and electric knife (like you carve a turkey with) cut out a block that is 2" tall, 8" long and 5" wide, like your fabric box. Using your trusty grid, map out all of the holes again and trace on pattern piece "C" again, but DON'T trace "D" this time. Your tracing is done!. Using a combination of the electric knife and a steak knife I carefully carved out those circles into half-spheres that were 1" deep. Don't get too crazy with perfection here. The outer circle is what's important, not a perfect hemisphere. Just make sure the perimeter of the circle is where it should be and it is 1" deep so exactly half your orange will fit in.
Now slip your foam in the hole you left, holes meeting cups, and stitch it up. Stick in your oranges and marvel at the power of math to make things uniform. After your oranges and fabric-covered-block-of-foam-with-cups are done, you need only make a little wooden crate. Mine is scrap wood glued together (to avoid splitting the small wood pieces) with the inside perimeter measuring 5"x8" to fit the foam. I also made it a little taller than 2" because I wanted the fabric-covered-foam to sit down in a bit. Hooray! You're done! Go stick pins in it and show it to everyone you know!