Three Projects to Make Without Using a Sewing Machine

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4-H youth participating in sewing camp and looking at project

Sewing is a fun hobby for those creatives out there who are interested in making something out of nothing. I enjoy using my sewing machines to make simple household items like pillows, oven mitts, blankets, but I also like making some wearable items like my top-knot hats! Today is National Sewing Machine Day! While most people may be creating something using their machine, everyone does not own their own sewing machine. I wanted to share with you all three simple projects to make without using a sewing machine while still celebrating this fashionable day. 

Woman with pillow

No-Sew Pillow – Tutorial

Update your home decor with a no-sew pillow using an old decorative pillow. Or you can purchase your own pillow stuffing from your local craft store. 


  • Old Decorative Pillow (square-shaped is preferred)
  • Scissors
  • ½ yard of fleece (2 pieces)
  • Ruler


  1. Cut two pieces of fleece at 4 inches away from the pillow. For instance, if your pillow is 10×10, you will add 4 inches to it on each side. 
  2. Cut 4-inch squares at each corner. Once you are finished cutting, cut 1 ½ inch strips around the fabric. 
  3. Tie a double knot to connect the top and bottom pieces of fabric together. Leaving one side open.
  4. Insert the decorative pillow into the fleece material tied together and finish tying. 
  5. That’s it! 

No-Sew Tote Bag

Reuse an old t-shirt, and turn it into a no-sew tote bag. This bag is a great project to still showcase your old t-shirts while using them for a different purpose now such as carrying your groceries, picking up local fruits and vegetables from the local farmers market, or storing your yarn and needles for the upcoming yarn work club hosted by 4-H Program Assistant Leah Joyner. 


  • Old T-Shirt
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Ruler


  1. Lay the t-shirt on a flat surface. Cut the sleeves of both arms and collar from the shirt. 
  2. Turn the t-shirt inside out. Using the marker/sewing pencil, mark 1 inch across the bottom of the t-shirt. This will serve as a guide for our strips. 
  3. Cut each 1-inch strip 4 inches long.
  4. Once completed, tie the front strip with its pair on the other side of the t-shirt. This is similar to a no-sew quilt project or our no-sew pillow shared previously. 
  5. Once you are finished tying, turn the t-shirt right side out. 
  6. The sleeve holes are your handles. Fold the bag towards to connect the holes. 
  7. You are all done! 

Pin Cushion

This pincushion was designed from my friend Madaline Jones, the 4-H Agent in Yadkin County, who co-led the Back to the Basics virtual camp this summer. 


  • Thread
  • 20 by 20-inch piece of fleece fabric (It’s a good thing we are already using fleece for our no-sew pillow project!)
  • Scissors
  • Plastic sauce cup (or another container)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Poly Fill (stuffing)


  • Red pom-pom for cherry
  • Circular object to trace
  • Hot glue gun


  1. Using a small plate (about 20 inches in diameter) or another similar size circular object, trace a circle on the wrong side of the fabric. If you are having a hard time finding an object, use your ruler to help you find a household item to trace. It does not have to be exactly 20 inches, but it needs to be close. 
  2. Cut out the circle. 
  3. Take the fleece fabric and hand stitch a running stitch all around the edge of the circle. A running stitch is a loose stitch where you go in and out of the fabric. Leave the extra thread hanging a bit at the end of your stitch. 
  4. Cinch up the circle by taking both sides of the left-over thread and pulling together. Don’t close it just yet. 
  5. Before completing closing it, take the stuffing or poly fill and stuff the circle. Then take the two sides of the thread again and tie together to form a ball out of the fabric. 
  6. You have the option to simply place the ball into the sauce cup or place hot glue all around the inside of the sauce cup and secure the ball into the cup. If you are a child doing this activity, be sure to ask for your caregivers’ permission and supervision while using the hot glue. 
  7. After the ball is in the plastic container, decorate your cupcake by adding a red pom-pom for a cherry. This can be attached to the hot glue or by sewing on.
  8. Take your colorful straight pins and “sprinkle” them around by putting them into your pincushion creation. Push them all the way into the cushion to make them look like sprinkles.

I hope you enjoyed learning about these simple no sewing machine craft activities that you can do in celebration of National Sewing Machine Day! If you are interested in doing more crafty activities, ask us about our new yarn work special interest club coming in October by Leah Joyner, 4-H Program Assistant. To learn more, contact the local 4-H office at 704.283.3735 or 704.283.3740.