Monday, October 29, 2012

Effie & Ollie Elephant Pincushion & Pincushion Swap

So I just participated in my first item swap, a pincushion swap at

I'd seen the Effie & Ollie pincushion by Heather Bailey online, and when I wandered across it my local quilt store I had to get it.  I googled it and found out a couple things -
1. people like to make them and sell them on etsy
2. stuffing the legs full enough so it will actually stand up seemed to be a daunting task, let alone stand up tall enough so the trunk isn't touching the ground.

I was too intimidated to make it so it's hung there on my corkboard for several months taunting me.

When the pincushion swap came up, I saw that my swap partner, Debbie at, had some adorable animals in her projects, so it seemed like a fortuitous time to buckle down and try it. I'll say a bit about the pattern - It was mostly straightforward, but had to re-do part of it when I struggled with one of the 90 degree angles when it didn't line up correctly (there are some challenging angles awhich I hadn't worked with before), and other reviews I read were right, it IS a bit difficult to sew the last pieces on with all the curves and small pieces, mainly to get it to go together perfectly at the front point between the eyes.

A couple recommendations I'll make about this pattern - the instructions have stitching or sewing buttons on for eyes as the last required step.  Despite my best efforts they didn't come out perfectly even, so I suggest doing this step before the pieces are sewn together.  

Also, the opening on the elephant's stomach got stretched a bit when stuffing it, so I'd also recommend that minimally you baste back the seam allowances before stuffing, so it can be stitched closed more neatly than I was able to accomplish.

Now the pincushion I received, well my partner went all out.  More details of her project are here. She managed to combine the theme of orange/blue/green with the fact that it's just about Halloween.  I love her play on the orange to make it look like a pumpkin, how awesome is that?  Not only that but she paid attention to every detail and included all these wonderful touches and extras (the flower pins!!!  the little scissors with a hand stitched pouch!!! even a glittery spider!!!!).  I love how it's a pincushion on one side and a roomy carrying pouch on the other, and she filled it with color coordinated sewing goodies! 
Apples to Oranges Sewing kit - done by Sewzalot

And now it's time for a disclaimer -I just need to put a big rant here at the end.  Projects swaps can be stressful!   I am now pretty sure my sewing skills aren't ready to share with the world. I almost scratched the elephant and tried something different (simple) but stubbornly went ahead, and then I just panicked for a couple weeks until it was time to mail it.  Phew!

I did cut out the fabric for an elephant for myself, and in retrospect it's obvious I should have made mine first to work out any kinks but I had my hands full with quilts, so I didn't, and it still hasn't gotten sewn together yet. If I do get brave enough to tackle a swap again, I'm taking a lesson from Debbie on how to make my swap item extra special.


  1. I Love my little elephant so much!! It is just the cutest thing. Ali, you did a great job. I love the fabrics, and you really are right about those angles. Still wondering how that little angle on the head works! Thank you so much, my little elephant is going to settle in a special place when I'm done carrying him around with me. (Sitting by me right now). Debbie

    1. Thank you so much Debbie! Your spider is going to find itself pinned to my sewing machine
      to keep me company once I get the nerve to carry your wonderful pincushion out of the house!

  2. That elephant is so cute! And ambitious as a "first" project. Sewing very small pieces together (cut from cotton) is HARD. I would have been tempted to use felt and topstitch (versus sewing wrong side and turning). But the finished product wouldn't have been as cute as the fabrics you used.

    Your worries (unfounded by the way) are why I don't do finished product swaps. I've seen what other folks can do and I'm not up to that level (yet!).

  3. What an adorable elephant pin cushion! I think you've done a fantastic job with it, Ali.

    Love the pin cushion you've received too...very practical and cute!