Tuesday 6 March 2012

How to make a Fabric Origami Lotus Flower Pincushion

Pin away, but please don't pin all the images from this post, thank you :-)

A couple of years or so ago I went to a Chinese lantern festival at our local Botanic Garden and learned how to make origami lotus flowers.  I wondered if I could make a fabric one and so I had a go.  My first attempt was a failure - I tried pressing the folds, but it fell open again!

My second attempt resulted in this:

and these:

I don't feel in any way qualified to offer a tutorial as such but I had a lot of fun making these and wanted to show how I did it!  If anything is unclear, please do let me know and I will try to show it better.  Suggestions about how to customise are at the end. (Sorry about the fingernails - printer's ink, it's impossible to get off....)

I used two 10inch squares of fabric (mine were different, yours could be the same: just remember one will hardly show),  a ten inch square of Bondaweb (Wonder Under), some stuffing, a Marmite lid (Vegemite if you insist:-) or jam jar lid, a circle of fabric about  3 times the diameter of the lid, and some embroidery thread.

Place your first piece of fabric on top of the rough (gluey) side of the Bondaweb and fuse by ironing it.

Peel away the paper backing and then place gluey side against the wrong side of your second fabric:

 Again fuse it by ironing it. Trim/square up if necessary: the result should look like this:

Now,  with your preferred fabric (if you have one) underneath, fold in half on the diagonal and press/iron, open then fold in half along the opposite diagonal and press again.  You have now marked the mid point of your square where the lines intersect:

Okay, now take one point and fold it into the middle.  Press in place.

Do the same thing with the next point:

and the remaining two.  You should end up with this.

Now do the same thing again.  Take a point, fold into the middle and press, like this:

and do the same with the other three, so that you have this:

So far so good.  Now turn it over.

Once again, take all the corners, one by one, and press them into the middle, like so:

And voila!

Right, now turn it over and have a quick look at the back.  Here's what it looks like: four little flaps.

Turn it back over again.  Now begins the only remotely fiddly part.  You're going to reach round the back and take hold of one of those little flaps by the centre point and ease it up towards the front.  Here it comes:

and a little bit more until it looks like this...

Don't pull it all the way!   Do the same with all the flaps.  Now it begins to look like a flower.

Look at the back again. You'll see another four flaps.

Turn it back over again and reach behind to get hold of those flaps and pull open like before. Here's the first.

Do the same with the other three and here is your lotus.

This is what you'll need now:

Cut your square of fabric into a circle, and sew a long running stitch all the way round, about half and inch in from the edge.  You can start to pull this lightly by both ends to gather in the circle.

Fill your marmite cap with as much wadding as you can cram in, and place upside down inside the circle.

Now pull your running stitch threads as tight as possible, trying to make the gathers even.

Tie the ends together and you'll have this.

Place inside your flower.

To fix this to the flower, take your embroidery thread up through the back, and over your cushion and repeat.

Repeat again.  You'll find it helps to catch the existing threads in a loop before continuing over.

....and again

Secure your threads at the back, and add your pins/stamens

If you drill a hole in your marmite cap first you can embellish your flower with a button.  Use a long needle to sew it on from the front right through to the back, and pull it tightly:

My daughter and I made this tiny one, which would make a nice brooch:

We used a milk bottle cap for the middle.  By the way, I used a lid or cap because this helps to give some rigidity, makes a good round pad, and stops the points of the needles poking out.  You could, perhaps, use a circle of cardboard instead.

Further details, tweaking and embellishing:

The two bigger pincushions are made of quilters cotton (Amy Butler, I think). The tiny blue one is made of 1970s polycotton which was a little easier to fold.

You will find that making a tiny stitch through each of the folds helps the flower to keep its shape. (I didn't bother...)

Stuffing: I had an old synthetic pillow that had gone lumpy. I put it through the wash, cut one of the corners off, and we have been raiding the innards for stuffing for various projects.

You could try one colour of fabric, fussy cut the fabric for the centre pad, and jazz up by adding beads for example.

If you find ways of improving this - and I'm sure you will,  please do let me know and I'll add them to these instructions with full credit.  If you use this to make something and post pictures, please do link back to my post. Thank you!


  1. These are beautiful! And your tutorial is really good, I might even have a go at them sometime :) I love the idea of using the small flower as a brooch.

  2. What a cute pincushion! :) Thank you for a wonderful tutorial. I love pincushion and will have to try to make this. :D

  3. Very cute. My eldest daughter would love this. She is very into origami.

  4. Oh I'd love to make one of these with a little wrist band so it's half bracelet, half fancy pin cushion!

  5. Hello Catherine, I found your tutorial and think it is wonderful You gave yourself much trouble to describe it so exactly.
    I love small things and I will try to make one. I like to give away small practical things. Thank you very much !

  6. From IG I followed you over here to see how to make this. Great directions! I've pinned this on my Pincushions Pinterest board, linking back to your wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I have just found your pin and have followed your instructions, great. I got a bit of a frayed edge on the final folded out sections which I didn't like so the next one I will cut the fabric with pinking shears after I have bonded it. Fabulous tutorial, thank you.


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