Donut Pillows

Making donut pillows is one of my favourite things to do. I’ve sewn them using both a machine and by hand. In my experience, the results and quality have been very similar both ways. By machine is definitely much faster but I find that hand sewing can be therapeutic for me so I tend to go back and forth between methods depending on my mood.

For larger donuts, I like to use minky fabric because it is super soft and it doesn’t fray so you don’t need to worry about finishing the edges. Another reason why it is nice is because it does a great job of hiding your stitches; with minky, they won’t stand out if they are uneven or if you can’t quite find the right colour of thread to match the fabric. For the small donut pin-cushions, I use felt. Similar to minky, felt will not fray however, unlike minky, it does not disguise your stitches. It is much more important to stitch evenly when using felt. I have not tried any other materials so far as I am quite pleased with the results i’ve gotten.

To make a donut pillow, you will need to cut out 2 pieces for the “body” of the donut, one piece for the icing, and several smaller pieces for the sprinkles (see diagram). To draw the circles, I like to trace household items; for the outer circle, I use a large serving plate and for the smaller circle, I use a rice bowl. It is important to note that, after sewing, your donut will actually be much thinner than it appears at this stage so be sure not to make the inner circle too large.

The first step is to sew all of the sprinkles onto the icing. I like to loosely position them and ensure that the different colours are properly distributed and balanced. Once I am happy with the composition, I pin them in place. I then use white thread to carefully sew them on, one by one. This is, by far, the most time-consuming step, especially if you want your donut to have lots of sprinkles, which I always do. It can get repetitive but I find it very peaceful to lay in bed sewing on sprinkles with Howl’s Moving Castle playing in the background.

For the small pin-cushion donuts, rather than cutting out and sewing on a bunch of sprinkles, you can simply use embroidery thread. Depending on how fat you want your sprinkles to be, I would recommend using 4 to 6 strands. It’s very easy; just sew a small straight line and that will act as one sprinkle. For consistency sake, be sure to make all of your sprinkles approximately the same length.

Once you’ve gotten all of the sprinkles sewn on, the next step is to attach the icing to the top layer of the donut. First pin the icing into place, then use a running stitch around the outer edge. If you want to, you can then secure the icing with a running stitch around the inner edge. Another option is to leave it loose for now and then simply include it as a third layer when stitching around the inner edge during the completion steps of the donut.

After you have attached the icing to the upper piece, the next step will be to sew the upper and lower pieces of the “body” together. Flip the pieces so that they have their right sides together (soft fuzzy sides facing inwards) and then sew around the outer edge using a running stitch. Once you have completed the outer edge, flip your work inside out so that wrong edges are now together. The final step is to use a blanket stitch to sew the inner circle. If your machine will allow it, you can also use a running stitch for this part, but I find that sewing a blanket stitch by hand yields the cleanest results. Be sure to add stuffing as you go, ensuring that it is smoothly and evenly spaced. If you stuff it in chunks without taking the time to spread and space it, you can end up with a lopsided donut.

For pin-cushion donuts, rather than sewing right sides together, keep the right sides out and just use a blanket stitch around the outer and inner edges. The blanket stitch looks great against the felt and seems to give the donut more character.

Depending on how many sprinkles you have and how large your donut, you can easily complete a pillow in less than 4 hours. They make great gifts and are actually surprisingly comfortable to lay on. Hopefully this tutorial was helpful. Enjoy!

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