myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Scrappy Pincushion Swap Round 3

Oh, I have had such fun making this Pirate Treasure Chest pincushion!! This is the second time I have taken part in the Scrappy Pincushion Swap. Last time I made the Little House Pincushion and I got the feeling that my partner this round would like something similar. The idea of a treasure chest came to me in the middle of the night! I just loved the idea of filling it with ‘treasure’!!
Here is my original sketch.

I did this last Saturday morning and was so excited by the thought of it that I had to get right on with making it. Here are the fabrics I chose.

My partner likes bright colours and as this is a ‘scrappy’ swap I chose prints rather than trying to make the treasure chest look too realistic (like that was going to happen when it’s made of fabric and squashy!!). I was amazed to find 2 fabrics in my stash with skulls/skeletons on them! The aqua/white fabric with dancing skeletons was sent to me as part of the pincushion package I received in the last round of this swap (from Marilyn ‘Spiced Coffee’). It is an amazing fabric which depicts scenes from the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’. The pink one is an Alexander Henry fabric I bought in New York a couple of years back. I thought some Kaffe/Rowan fabrics would tone in nicely.

In no time I had the basic structure put together. But it took me all night to sew on the black felt ‘bands’ in front of the TV. Then it was just the hinges and padlock. My husband kept shaking his head and laughing at me when I told him that the hinges were going to be made of felt (of course, what else?). But then he used to be a furniture maker!
We all have ‘secret’ partners in the swap, which means that I know who I am making for but I don’t know who is making for me. We get a list of our partners likes and dislikes, and also this round we have been stating our favourite films in case our partners want to make a pincushion themed around that. I will let you guess what my partners favourite film might be…

And here is all the ‘bling’! Basically buttons and beads with a few gold chains and indian bells thrown in.
It did take a while to sew all the ‘jewels’ on but it was such fun! And I loved watching the glittering increase with every bead! The final touches (well nearly) were the skull and crossbones (appliqued white felt with black embroidery over the top), and the parrot and pirate flag pins. If you look carefully at my sketch photo above, you will see the tiny painted wooden birds that my son, Felix, brought back from India for me at Christmas. I picked the 2 most parrot-like and Jonathan drilled tiny holes in to their bottoms (ouch!) and glued the pins (with their original tops broken off) in to these. I made the flag pin by printing the flag from the internet and machining it on to some red felt, then wrapping that around a pin top and hand sewing to secure. The flag is Henry Avery’s (Long Ben’s) flag. Avery is my married name and apparently my husband’s ancestors are all descended from Devon pirates such as Henry (also sometimes called John Avery), so it’s kind of my family flag!!

But what’s that lying on the floor in front? In the cardboard tube?

Well, it’s a pirate treasure map of course!! I just couldn’t resist making this.

First of all I drew a map in pencil on to a scrap of linen, then I embroidered this with black, red and blue embroidery silk. Then I dipped it into some black tea to discolour it. When it was dry I scorched the edges with a match to make it look antique. I know you’re not meant to blow your own trumpet, but I think it is pure genius!!

Here is the back of the chest, don’t those hinges look sturdy, Jonathan?
And then I just had to make one more little thing to go with the main pincushion.

I have had this spare minature teacup and saucer sitting on my desk at work for a few months now. It came from a dollies tea set that we sell in the shop. They sent one with a teacup and saucer that didn’t match, and when they sent replacements I ended up with a mismatched set. I just knew this would make the cutest pincushion. I just cut out a circle of fabric, gathered the edges and stuffed it into a ball shape. I haven’t glued it in as my partner might need to use the tiny cup and saucer for something else one day (like making her dolly a cup of tea?).

Here is the full package ready to go in the mail.
But where will it be going…? Some people in the swap group seem to think they have worked this out. Well, all I can say is, don’t count your chickens!!


  1. Jo!!!!!! That is DEFINITELY the bestest pin cushion I have ever seen. EVER! Your attention to detail is astounding – the treasure, the flag and parrots, THAT MAP! I mean, the construction of the actual chest is fantastic (I love your fabric choices) but all those wee bits lift it from fab to utterly, utterly genius. Lucky partner!!!!

  2. What a great treasure! Wonderful idea for a pincushion and you have made them really beautiful! I love also your 'granny' jumper and all those beautiful quilts you make!
    Sunny wishes! Teje

  3. Hi Jo,
    I'm Gail from The Fairy Gardener Quilts Too!. I love both the pincushions you've made. They're so creative. I have the little house on my radar to make for my cousin later this year.
    This pirate chest though–is so adorable and creative. You really had your thinking cap on when you designed it. I'm sure I'll be back here to visit often. I love owls too. I have several that live in the woods behind my house and I collect little owl figurines. I think they're my "totem" animal. They always seem to come into my life in some way.

    Gail 🙂

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