Little Turtle Pin Cushion

I have been wanting to make this for months and finally found an excuse when I was reviewing a pretty deck of cards with artwork of animals. It was designed by Kathy Shaw from Shawkl Designs and is a free pattern.

I decided my turtle would be a sea turtle and chose sea green and reedy looking fabrics accordingly. I suppose he really looks more like a tortoise but that’s imagination for you. Gus is wondering about the mess on the drafting table behind him, wondering why I don’t tidy it up. It’s a mystery of life Gustifer, just swim with it, roll with those breakers of baffling human behaviour.


Gus’s underside.


His name is Gus for two reasons: When a friend’s husband was dying of a brain tumour and had gone into hospice care, he said his little dachshund Gus (who had died some time before) came to visit him. I suppose the tumour was pressing something in his brain and caused the hallucination, but it has always been my hope that perhaps it WAS little Gus and he had come to comfort his Dad.

His is also named Gus for Gus Ryder, the swimming coach of Marilyn Bell, the first person to swim Lake Ontario in 1954. My Mother had a terrible fear of water and if she couldn’t touch ground when in the water she would cry and start to shake. So every time she went in the water she would invoke a bit of swimming advice from Gus Ryder and toodle around doing the breast stroke.

Here’s to Dan and Isabel, two great people no longer with us. Gus is for you.

I wanted the pincushion to be a bit smaller so I printed it at 70%. I had fun embellishing it with silk ribbon and various silk and cotton threads and beads. The nice aspect of a project like this is that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s a useful object, no matter what it ends up like.


Here is Gus with the Turtle card from The Messenger Cards by Sandra Kunz, the card that inspired me to sew him. Oh, it looks like a small figure of a sea turtle has come to join him in the celebration.


Swim on in the Sea of Life Gus.




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