Zippy Linen Pin Pillow Tutorial

Finished Size: Approximately 4” x 6-1/2”

What you’ll need:
- Sewing machine

- Thread for machine piecing

- Rotary cutter and mat

- Acrylic ruler

- Scissors

- 8” x 9” piece of flannel for pin pillow insert

- 5” x 13-1/2” linen (or cotton) print for outside pin pillow cover

- 9” zipper

- Crushed walnut shells (can be found in reptile section in most pet stores)

Please read through the instructions carefully before starting.


I love the look of linen and thought this cute matryoshka linen would be perfect for the cover of my pin pillow. You can use also quilting cotton for the cover, but I would advise against anything heavier as it will dull your pins and needles more quickly. No matter which type of fabric you choose for your cover, you will need to prewash the cover fabric to preshrink. The idea behind this design was to allow you to be able to wash your pin pillow cover as needed. Preshrinking will help to guarantee it will fit after washing.


Step One: Cut a piece of flannel to 8” x 9”.
You can use cotton or muslin for the insert. I prefer the softness of the flannel, and I feel that it is easier to insert my pins and needles through it.

Step Two: Fold the flannel in half with the 8” sides touching. You will now have a piece that is approximately 8” x 4-1/2”.

Step Three: Sew along one short side, and the open long side, using a ½” seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end to secure stitches.

Step Four: Fill the pin pillow insert with crushed walnut shells. Leave approximately 1” of space between the shells and the open end of the fabric. I filled my insert with 1-1/2 cups of crushed walnut shells using a dry measure cup and a funnel.

Step Five: Fold the open end over ½” and stitch closed with your sewing machine. Keep an eye out for walnut shells that want to sneak into your stitch path. Stitch a second seam next to the first for added security.

That’s it for the insert for now.


Step One: Cut prewashed linen (or cotton) to 5” x 13-1/2” for outside cover. Be aware of how your design will be placed by laying it over the insert. I wanted a full large matryoshka doll on the front of my pin pillow so I cut appropriately. The 13-1/2” measurement will wrap around the long part of the insert, and the 5” ends are where the zipper will be placed and will be on the back of your pin pillow.

Step Two: Sew zipper to a short (5”) end with fabric right side down on top of zipper right side up. The zipper is in the right side up position if you can unzip it from that side.

Step Three: Press fabric away from zipper and top stitch approximately 1/8” from edge.

Step Four: Repeat for second short (5”) end. Unzip zipper before topstitching.

Step Five: With zipper closed and fabric right sides together, lay cover on top of your insert and line your design up how you want it to be on the top of your pin pillow. Pay attention to where the zipper is falling on the back. It doesn’t have to be centered up but you don’t want it too close to the end.

Step Six: Make sure that your zipper pull is inside of the edge of your fabric, and sew a basting stitch over the ends of your zipper to keep it from shifting, or gaping, while you sew the cover together.

Step Seven: Unzip your zipper a few inches, and sew the side your zipper pull closes to using ½” seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end.

Step Eight: Reach through the open side and unzip your zipper at least halfway.

Step Nine: Sew the remaining open side using ½” seam allowance. Backstitch at beginning and end.

Step Ten: Trim zipper ends even with fabric. I go back at this point and sew back and forth across the zipper ends to reinforce. Just sew right on the seam.

Step Eleven: Turn right side out and carefully poke out corners.

Step Twelve: Unzip fully.

Step Thirteen: Carefully start stuffing the insert into the longest side of the cover. Stuff as much as you can into this end. Then lift the shorter end of the cover and carefully stuff the rest of the insert into that end. You can shift the walnut shells some as you go to make it a little easier. This is why it is so important to prewash your cover fabric before sewing. If at any point you need to wash your cover and it wasn’t preshrunk it will be very difficult to get it back on. No worries if you forget though because you can always unsew the end of the insert, remove some shells, and sew it back up.

Step Fourteen: Shake your insert around, push it with your fingers, and work it into the corners of the cover until it is evenly distributed.

Step Fifteen: Zip it up and enjoy your new pin pillow!

Want an easier way to view the tutorial, or maybe you want to have it for later use? You can download the free pdf file of this tutorial on the Tutorials page.

NOTE: This tutorial was originally featured on my former blog, My Stitch Story, in 2015.

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