I’m hooked. Seriously. I can’t seem to stop making these little bottle cap pin cushions! This little penguin is of my own creation (although the idea for doing a penguin was all my mom’s, and I learned about using the bottle caps from Jen Segrest’s blog) so I decided to take pictures not only to help others make it, but so that I can remember exactly what I did. This precious little guy is a birthday gift for a dear aunt who has more knowledge about sewing than anyone I’ve ever met. I hope she enjoys having him in her sewing room as much as I enjoyed bringing him into the world!
If you’re interested in making this project, I’ve typed out the steps I took and some example photos below. Please feel free to email me (link at the top right of the screen) or leave a comment if you have any questions!
orange/dark yellow felt
plastic soda bottle cap
embroidery floss/thread- black, white, dark yellow/orange, blue (you can use a color other than blue for the eyes, that’s just what I chose for my penguin)
pin cushion (or a safe place to keep your pins/needles while you are working)
fiber fill (not shown)
helpful to have: chopstick or toothpick for stuffing fiber fill into the pin cushion
also not shown: two small triangular pieces of dark yellow felt (same color as the feet) for the penguin’s beak. You can either embroider the beak directly onto the penguin’s face, but I liked the look of the 3-dimensional felt beak better.
The ruler is shown for scale.
Using the soda bottle cap as a size guide, cut out a circular piece of black felt the same diameter as the cap. Cut out a piece of yellow fabric for the feet as shown- the diameter of the circular part should be slightly smaller than the black felt base.
Cut out two strips of black felt. They should be long enough to stretch around the entire cap’s diameter and have at least 3/4″ inch extra on each side to cut the wings out of. They should be about twice as tall as the height of the soda cap. Stack the two strips of fabric together and pin them together at the edges. Center the bottle cap inside of the felt strips and pin each side again so that the cap rests snugly inside of the felt strips. Using embroidery scissors, trim the flaps on the sides into the shapes for the wings. You’ll need to temporarily remove the pins so that you don’t poke yourself or damage the scissors. Once the wings have been cut out, replace the pins to secure the wing pieces together.
Using a straight stitch, stitch up the length of the body creating a straight, vertical line to segment the body from the wings. Use a whip stitch to stitch each wing together around the entire edge of each wing. Start at the top so that when you get to the bottom you can stitch the underneath part of the body (the part around the base of the soda cap) closed as well.
Place the torso onto the base and feet. You’ll want to sandwich the yellow feet piece between the round base and the flat part of the soda cap. I chose to whip stitch around the feet before attaching everything together. To attach the base, whip stitch with black thread around the diameter of the base, making sure to do the part around the feet as well. Keep your stitches small and close to the seam when going through the feet so that your thread doesn’t show.
Cut a 3-inch circle of black felt. This will be the penguin’s head. Thread a loose stitch around the perimeter of the circle, about 1/4 inch from the edge. Pull the length of each ending thread to cinch the circle closed, like a drawstring bag. Stuff with fiber fill and tie off in a tight knot. Make sure that the ball of felt sits comfortably down into the torso of the penguin. Make sure to fill the head until it feels solid. It’s helpful to stuff more fiber fill into the head once you’ve tied off the threads. A chopstick or toothpick works well to pack down the fiber fill and press the fiber fill through the tiny opening. It should feel solid and not have much give when you squeeze it. If you don’t fill it full enough, the needles will not stay securely in the pin cushion, and it will lose its shape.
Place the stuffed head down into the torso, pulling the sides of the torso up the length of the head. Whip stitch the two pieces together until they are secure.
Cut out a small white oval for the belly of the penguin. Whip stitch the white felt to the torso using white embroidery floss. For the face, you can either make a beak out of fabric, or using dark yellow/orange embroidery floss, embroider a triangular shape onto the head. I like the look of the 3-dimensional piece better than the flat embroidery. If you do the felt beak, you’ll need to cut two small pieces of triangular dark yellow/orange felt and whip stitch them around the edges to hold them together, and then stitch them to the face. To make the eyes, use the blue embroidery floss and create the shape of your choice. You can make a French knot for each eye, or make an asterisk shape like I chose.