That’s what pincushions were called in the Middle Ages. “pimpilowes,” “pyn pillows,”  “pin-poppets”, what ever you want to call yours, all sewists need a pincushion. Such a practical item in the sewing room. If you look on Pinterest there are so many interesting versions. I fear I might feel like I am practicing some kind of voo-doo if I was to use some of the human looking shapes ! Did you know that back in Victorian times placing a tomato on the mantel of a new home ensured prosperity by warding off evil spirits? When tomatoes were out of season, people simply improvised with red material, sawdust, and a little bit of ingenuity. That’s how the tomato shaped pincushion came about.

Anyways, I’ve been making little pincushions by paper piecing a square-in-square block. I found a wonderful tutorial here that includes several different sized templates you can download. I used the 4″ finished template.




I had read somewhere that if you fill them with crushed walnut shells they will keep your pins sharp as it is used. Finding the crushed walnut shells took some doing but I tracked them down at a pet store about 50 miles from here. They only carry 20 pound bags so I’ve got a lot of pincushions to make ! The crushed walnut shells are very similar to sand. I suppose I could also use it to fill simple little bags for children’s games or they might even work for hand/neck  warmers. I’ll have to stick one in the microwave and see if it works. Great way to use up scraps and leftover fabric.



Oh well, they are a relatively fast and satisfying make !

Please leave a comment, it’s up by the date at the beginning of the post.

I’d be interested to hear if you have made any pincushions and would love a link to any pictures if you have them.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a good weekend.

I’ll be linking up with Finish it up Friday.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sheri
    Jan 16, 2015 @ 17:38:36

    Loved reading the bit of history on pincushions and yours are absolutely darling!! I especially love the chick and pigs ones.



  2. Deanna
    Jan 16, 2015 @ 22:04:22

    I like the little piggies one!



  3. Vicki Isaacs
    Jan 17, 2015 @ 01:41:48

    These are gorgeous – with this many it seems you have a bit of sewing to do!



  4. Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts
    Jan 17, 2015 @ 13:04:24

    I have never made a pincushion but would like to make a long, skinny one for the front of my machine. I found a small package of crushed shells at a small quilt shop near my MIL’s home (she lives 3 hours away). So I have the shells, now just need to make the cushion! Yours are adorable!



  5. allisonreidnem
    Jan 18, 2015 @ 21:46:43

    Hi! Colleen, Thanks for the little history lesson! I never knew the origin of tomato pincushions or the tip to use crushed walnut shells. I smiled when I read about your 20lb bag – that is a lot of pincushions! My only attempt at a cathedral window block is now a little pincushion ( I don’t think I’ll be making a quilt of those blocks anytime soon!)



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