Needlepoint accessories: Pincushions-Part 4

I was so inspired by my research on pincushions that I decided to offer a free pattern so that you can make your own. And this is not any old pincushion, but rather one that sharpens every time you use it!Pincushion

Some interesting facts about pincushions:

Pincushions or pin pillows date back to the Middle Ages in Europe. Many surviving examples are elaborately embroidered.

Small porcelain baskets containing a pin pillow were very popular in the 16th Century.

Seamstresses in the 18th Century favoured weighted pincushion. These were  often in the shape of birds and later dolls whose skirts served as the “cushion.” These “ladies” were all the rage and became more elaborate over time. They remained popular till World War 2 when many of the porcelain factories were bombed.

The familiar tomato shaped pincushion that we can still buy today, grew from a Victorian Era superstition that tomatoes were good luck and so they were often given to newly weds as charms and placed on the mantle.  But tomatoes are seasonal so when there were no actual tomatoes a fabric token was made and later used for pins.

There are two kinds of pincushions

  1. The kind designed to hold pins which come in all shapes, sizes and materials. They may be stuffed with anything and everything from sawdust to lambswool.
  2. Those designed to sharpen pins and needles and traditionally  quite small because the filling was heavy, abrasive and expensive. Emery (yes, the mineral emery boards are made from), fine sand, crushed shells were commonly used. Today there are many more options including Ajax powder, fine aquarium sand or crushed walnut shells, which are said to also provide oil and prevent rust. You will find a range of recipes online, but I did find crushed walnut shells at the local pet store in the reptile section.Pincushion-graph

If you would like to make your own pin sharpener, just follow the graph below. You can use any size canvas ( I used 10 count) and of course any colour combination. So go crazy! And please, post me your comments and images.  Id love to hear from you!

In the meantime, get out those pins and needles and “happy stitching!”


For more about pin cushions check out these interesting links:


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