I have three pin cushions. All of them have beauty and sentimental meaning.
Tapestry pin cushion
The first is a tapestry pin cushion made by my mother. I like it as it quite big and you can always find it. The muted colours make it look subtle and antique. Like most ladies of her generation she learnt to sew, knit, and cook as she grew up. Her own mother was disabled and my Mum had to look after her and do quite a lot of the domestic work. So although she much prefered shopping to sewing once she got married she has always done tapestry. Two antique chairs, some footstools and other items in the house look something like this pincushion, with traditional floral patterns.
Hand made felted tomato pin cushion
My second pin cushion was made by Jackie Parsons of Bopeepkids.com. I met her at a craft fair at just the moment when I wanted a wrist borne pincushion, and she was selling a couple, handmade from felted wool.
This one is very useful as I wear it when I am sewing – but especially when I am fitting or pinning on the stand, or doing a hem. I stitched an elasticated cuff on it so it was comfortable to wear. Jackie told me why the traditional shape and colour of a pin cushion is tomato shaped.
Apparently when a family moved into a home of their own they would set a tomato on the mantlepiece as it was said to bring prosperity and ward off any bad spirits. But if you could not get a fresh tomato then families would make a tomato from red fabric and fill it up with stuffing, sand or sawdust being the kind of thing they would have available. This meant it was also a good place to store pins safely. The tomatoes are ubiquitous, but some have a little strawberry attached, filled with emery or sand to keep pins and needles sharp – anyone know what the strawberry signifies?
Antique pin cushion
My third pincushion is an actual antique, a gift from my husband who supports my sewing hobby in his own sweet way. I understand it is English, dating from about 1850s. It has a seam clamp and it is attached to a table by means of a screw. It is designed to hold up the hem of a garment. On the top is a velvet pin cushion. Some of these are much more ornate, but I like the design of mine. I never use it but I like it sitting by my side.