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Needles, Pins and Pincushions

Dating back over 40,000 years needles were first made of wood, bone and ivory, later out of brass and bronze in the time of Moses, then steel from Spain up to the 1650s, in modern times oil and emery polished hardened steel. Today the eminently functional hand sewing tool is made out of high carbon steel wire and nickel or gold plated for corrosion resistance.

In the 14th & 15th centuries needles and pins were highly sought after and a pincushion was a necessity to keep the valuable sewing tools from getting lost, rusty and dull. Pincushions were stuffed with bits of lanolin-rich wool to lubricate the needles and pins and fine emery to keep them sharp. Long a staple of a woman’s sewing box, pincushions have served as more than a handy place to coral leftover pins and needles.

There are estate inventories and wills from this period that included needles and pins. Pincushions were also on display on dressers during Victorian times so that women could keep their hat pins as well as sewing pins at hand.

Make a bottle cap or ring pincushion that fits on your finger!
General instructions - make two holes in the bottom of a plastic bottle cap. Use very narrow flat elastic or elastic cord that would fit around your finger plus an inch. The elastic is then inserted into each of the holes, knotted and secured with a dab of hot glue. The pincushion is made much like a fabric yo-yo – cut out a circle, approx. 4-1/4" diameter, use a running stitch ¼" from the edge of the entire circle, draw-up the thread gently to make a cup shape, then fill with wool scraps, or polyfil, pull the circle closed tightly, knot securely. Glue a decorative lace edging inside the bottle cap and then put a generous amount of hot glue inside the bottle cap center and press the completed cushion into the bottle cap. An alternative is to leave off the ring elastic, add a hook and loop tape dot or square to the back of the tiny pincushion and one to your sewing machine. The pincushion will dress up your sewing machine and add a handy place for those pins and needles to reside while you sew.

Pincushions and their accompanying needle cases offered sentimental as well as functional value. They continue to enjoy an immense popularity among sewers and crafters. Make a few to give away as gifts or cherish as whimsical keepsakes.

Simple yet charming the functional pincushion is relatively easy to create. Sew one or more of Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Pincushions to use as whimsical yet practical gift wrap decorations that a sewer would later add to a sewing box.

An example of the pincushion ring can be found at AllFreeCrafts.

Sew happy, sew inspired.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Cheryl Ellex. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Cheryl Ellex. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cheryl Ellex for details.

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