A Bohemian Blowfish Pincushion

Posted by BreeM on Friday, June 29th, 2012


Bohemian Blowfish Pincushion

A kitschy pincushion using Bohemian Festival
Riley Blake Designs

Printer Friendly Instructions

Course Instructor: Bree McElroy from Distant Pickles (www.distantpickles.blogspot.com)


Fabric Line: ' Bohemian Festival’ by Lila Tueller for Riley Blake Designs

Course Materials:

1 fat quarter each of 2 fabrics from Bohemian Festival (or scraps equaling 2 fat quarters)

2 child safety eyes, 12mm size

7-10 pennies

Fiberfill stuffing or crushed walnut shells

Basic Sewing Supplies (needle, thread, scissors, machine)

Downloadable templates (here)



Course Instructions:

¼” seam used throughout

Are you ready to create your own adorable Bohemian Blowfish Pincushion? Lila Tueller’s newest line, Bohemian Festival, lends bright color and whimsy to this silly little critter.

First things first – you’re going to need these templates for cutting. There are four separate pieces for the body, two different sized fins, and 3 pieces for the kissy-fishy lips. Download these templates here.

You can decide to make this fish scrappy by using a different fabric for each panel of the body or more reserved by using the same fabric throughout the body. I chose to use one print – the blue version of the main print for the line – for the body, and one other print for the fins and lips (medallion in yellow).

Cut one each of the four body pieces (pages 1+2 of the templates, pieces A, B, C, D.) Using a pencil, water soluble marker, or chalk mark the lines that are marked in the pattern. These are placement lines for your fins and lips and are vital to keeping things even. Mark the eye dots on pieces A+B and set all body pieces to the side.



Now grab that other print (yellow medallion). You will need to cut two of the tail fin shape (piece E) and four of the side fins (piece F). To ensure that these will line up, I suggest cutting two layers at a time, placing these layers right side together while cutting. This also helps out when it’s time to sew- your pieces are already right sides together and ready to go! Also cut one each of lip pieces 1,2, and 3, and a 1.5”x1” rectangle.

Lip Assembly: Place piece 1 right side up on your table.



Place piece 3 right side down on top of piece 1, lining up edges. Place piece 2 right side down on top of this, lining up the other side of the lips. Pieces 2 and 3 will overlap – this is correct!



Stitch around the perimeter of the lips.


Lay your 1.5”x1” rectangle on top of the center, and stitch only from the center of the top and bottom towards the left side. Leave the other side unstitched.


Snip the corners and snip slits around the rounded edges. This helps things lay flat when turning your pieces.Turn the lips right side out and use a pencil to help poke the corners out. You will see a little flap from your 1.5”x1” rectangle – make sure this is sticking out about 1/2”.


 Going from one corner to the center of the mouth, stitch a single line to form a separation of the lips. Stop when you get to your little flap on the back – you don’t want to catch this in the seam. Flip the lips and stitch from the other corner into the center, again avoiding the flap in the back. Now, those lips look like kissy lips!


Fin Assembly: Grab those pieces you cut earlier – they should still be in pairs, right sides together. Stitch around the perimeter of each fin, along the stitch lines provided in the templates.


Snip slits in the seam allowance as shown and turn, again using a pencil to poke out corners.



Stuff very lightly and stitch lines into the fins as desired to hold the stuffing.

There is no wrong way to stitch these lines – they’re really decorative. Get creative – stitch in scale shapes or circles, bubbles, whatever you can think of! Don’t worry about closing up the open edge, we’ll catch that in a later seam. Do this for two side fins and one tail fin. 


Fish Assembly: Place pieces A&B right sides together. Pick up your lip piece and fold it in half as shown:

Notice the little back flap piece is between my fingers.

Insert the lips between the pieces, lining up with the "lips" marking lines. The lips will be inserted into the seam using that little back flap we created and made sure was not caught in the stitching.

Fold the lips in half to the front and place between the seam, with the front of the lips facing the inside of your fabric sandwich. Pin carefully and stitch down the pinned side only. Note - the little back flap is sticking out the seam - this is good! It ensures that our lips are going to be caught completely in the seam.

 Stitch along the pinned side only.


Turn your stitched piece right-side out. It makes a little mountain peak that looks an awful lot like a duck bill. That's okay!

Carefully tack down the corners of the lips to the outer face. You can do this by hand or machine – just a quick stitch to hold down those corners is fine!



With a seam ripper, gently tear a small hole where the eye dot marking is for each side.


Place your safety eye through the hole, ensuring the eye is visible on the right side of the fabric and the post is visible on the wrong side of the fabric.

Push the backing washer onto the post and secure eyes into place.



 Repeat this with pieces C+D, lining up on the side where the “tail fin” markings are and inserting the tail fin as shown to create two halves of your fish. You can press these seams if you choose. I did not – my iron has this irrational fear of odd shapes, and so do I. ;)





You now have two halves of a fish!


Place your two halves right sides together, lining up all your markings (including the center seam!) and pinning well. Insert your “side fins” where the markings show, and pin well.




Those dotted lines down at the bottom – those are your start and stop points for your stitching. Do not stitch at the bottom between these lines – you’re going to need to turn the fish right side out! Your shapes are going to be a little wonky – this is not a flat project – so just match up edges and pin to the best of your ability. Stitch all the way around, making sure to backstitch at the start and the end.


Turn your fishy friend right side out and stuff firmly. Watch the eye posts as you stuff – make sure you get the stuffing all around them, or your fish face will look all sorts of wonky.


Cut a rough circle about 3” in diameter from your scraps. Do a running stitch by hand around the outer edge of the circle.


 Place 7-10 pennies in the center of the circle and pull the circle closed around the pennies.


 Secure by hand and insert into the bottom of the fish.


Hand stitch your fish closed using a blind stitch and enjoy!



Your pennies will keep your fish from swimming off your desk.



Make a dozen, sans pennies, and use them to toss at your husband as he interrupts your sewing time, or give them as kid gifts! (Ages 3+ on those safety eyes – otherwise, embroidery is a great option for safety purposes!)

Category: Pincushions


  1. Very cute and great directions and photos. Definitely a weekend project for me! Thanks for sharing.
    by Cathy
    June 29th, 2012 at 4 a.m.
  2. So cute. I love pincushions and have bookmarked this one to make later this summer.
    by cindy
    June 29th, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
  3. Oh gosh, soooo cute! Thanks for sharing.
    by Jennie P.
    June 29th, 2012 at 9:29 p.m.
  4. I am in awe, as your fish is so stinkin' adorable! :)
    by Candice
    June 29th, 2012 at 9:40 p.m.
  5. thanks for sharing it is tooooo cute!
    by joylyn
    July 02nd, 2012 at 12:37 p.m.
  6. Very cute!
    by Nancy
    July 04th, 2012 at 8:02 p.m.
  7. I love pincushions and this one is adorable!!! :)
    by Anna Maria
    July 05th, 2012 at 10:06 a.m.
  8. Thank you very much this is soooo cute, I love fish, and this pincushion will be a great accent to my sewing machine's setup
    by Patricia Renderos
    July 05th, 2012 at 11:17 p.m.
  9. Mine turned out great and made a great gift for a sewing friend! Thanks for the tutorial/pattern Bree!!! Blogged here: http://www.buttonsandbutterflies.com/2012/07/blowfish-pincushion.html
    by Heidi Grohs
    July 16th, 2012 at 12:10 a.m.
  10. That is the cutest fish I have ever seen! I can't wait to make a school of them!!
    by Jedi Craft Girl
    July 16th, 2012 at 8:28 p.m.
  11. That is the most adorable pincushion ever! My sewing room is ocean theme, "sew" I can't wait to I can't wait to make it!!!Thanks
    by Debbie from Pittsburgh
    September 18th, 2012 at 9 p.m.
  12. Love the fish, can't wait to make it. I have been unable to download the templates.
    by Holly Bindel
    February 16th, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.

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