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  • Writer's pictureRhona Norrie

How to make a biscornu

Biscornus seem to be everywhere. I have to admit that although I love the look of them, I had never been brave enough to actually even think about making one until a few years ago. Goodness knows what possessed me to make one as I usually run a mile from anything that involves 'real' sewing. Honestly, I'm the Mum who glued on the brownie badges and hemmed school trousers with wundaweb. Sharp needles scare me almost as much as the going to the dentist!

Anyhoo, for some strange reason I decided to attempt one of these biscornus and I'm so glad I did! They are super easy and look amazing.

Biscornus can be used as pin cushions, scissor keepers, Christmas ornaments, etc… the list goes on. They are totally adorable and look extremely complicated to make, but in fact they are so simple that once you start making them, you will be making more than one…..honestly, they are addictive! They make great presents too - people will be amazed at them. They look as though they have taken an age to complete, but only you will know how simple they really are. Just bask in the glory and let the compliments roll!

cross stitched biscornu in shades of blue thread

This is how I made mine. I used the Celtic Ornaments chart that is part of our 'Year of Christmas Stitching'. You can get the free chart here.

You will need:

  • Stitched piece x 2 (Front and back pieces)

  • Stuffing such as fiberfill

  • Needle and thread

  • Scissors

  • Two small buttons

1. Backstitch a square around the front design piece. It is important that the backstitching is a square. Your biscornu will not work if this is not a square.

My backstitch line was four squares from the outermost cross stitch.

cross stitched celtic knot design with backstitch border

(For the back piece, I used only the outer border from the design - pictured below, but you can stitch the design twice, or use the matching design that email subscribers can access... just sign up for our emails!) Back stitch a border around the design making sure that it is the same size as the front piece. This square of backstitching must be exactly the same size as on the front piece otherwise your biscornu pieces will not match up.

The colour that you use to backstitch will be seen, so it's best to use one of the colours from the design. For this biscornu, I used the dark blue from the design.

2. Trim any excess fabric, leaving approx. 1- 2 cm of fabric from the backstitching line.

Find the exact center point on the backstitching line of the back piece (see below for reference). Place a needle or pin at this center point.

3. Thread a needle with two strands of thread using the same colour as the backstitched line. Make a small knot at the end of the thread - one of the few times you are allowed to make a knot! :)

Place the corner of the front piece to the (marked) middle of the back piece and bring your needle up through the fabric, right at the corner of the front piece.

Now you're going to start whip stitching through the backstitching. Now if you’ve absolutely no idea what that means, fear not…it’s really quite easy! Basically, your needle is going underneath the threads of the backstitching and ‘catch’ each stitch. You do not go through the fabric, only the backstitching. Click here to see some close up photographs of how it's done.

Check the tension of your stitching, keeping it the same all round. Make sure you only go through each pair of backstitches (front and back) only once.

close up of cross stitched biscornu sewn together

Continue stitching all the way round. Sometimes the corners can feel a bit fiddly, but just check that you are in the center of the design and keep going! You will see the design start to take the biscornu shape as you progress.

Stop when you finish side 6.

4. This is where you start to stuff the biscornu. Make sure you push the stuffing right into the corners of your biscornu. Use the blunt end of a pencil, or something similar, to make sure the corners are well stuffed. You really need quite a bit of stuffing to fill it up properly, far more than you would imagine! So stuff, stuff, stuff!

5. Once you have enough stuffing inside, you need to fold in the edges of the last two sides.

sewing together the last few sides of a biscornu

If you want to add a little loop of ribbon for hanging, now's the time to add that making sure that the stitching catches the ribbon as well as the fabric.

biscornu being sewn together with needle and thread

Continue to whip stitch to close all the sides.

cross stitched biscornu sewn together

6. Now you are almost finished, but you need to make the little indentation to give your cushion the classic finish of the biscornu. This is where the buttons come in.

I found the easiest way to attach the buttons was to tie the thread to the bottom button (I used a dark blue one) and then bring the needle up from the underside of the biscornu through the middle and loop through the top button (red in my case) then back down to the bottom button. I squeezed the biscornu while I looped the thread through the buttons several times. I ended the thread with a small knot (yes another one!) on the bottom button, and then buried the end of the thread inside the biscornu.

close up of biscornu with red button in the middle

Voila! Biscornu complete. Much easier than anticipated!

It probably took me longer to write the instructions than it did to make the biscornu!

So if you have never attempted one of these little cuties, take your courage in both hands and just do it. You'll be glad you did.

We may also have a video tutorial soon of how to make a biscornu - stay tuned.

Happy (biscornu) stitching!

- Rhona

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