Photo used with permission from Carol Steely
Pincushions.Â What is it about them that seem to draw us in? We use them, display them, makeÂ them, swap them, and collect them. Do you ever wonder â€œwhy a tomatoâ€?
Mello Mushroom Pincushion Pattern AK-164 $6.50
Designed by: AK-Annie’s Keepsakes-Vicki Clontz
Â PincushionsÂ have been referenced as far back as the middle ages. The predecessor of todayâ€™sÂ pincushion went by strange names like pimpilowes, pyn-pillows, and pin-poppets. Â They were made from fine fabrics and often decorated with delicate handÂ embroidery.
Grandmaâ€™s Silver Spoon Pincushion Pattern
Designed by: DML-Down Memory Lane-Nancy Hughes
PriorÂ to 1835, pins were handmade and very expensive. Husbands would designate a lineÂ in the family budget for their wives called â€œpin moneyâ€. This was an allowance
she would use to purchase pins, cloth, and other personal items. As you can
imagine, the pincushion was not only a utilitarian place to store pins but also
a place to put ones pins on display.
In December of 1835, Dr. Robert Howe invented aÂ pin making machine. In no time, the Howe Manufacturing Company was turning outÂ about 70,000 pins a day. Once pins were massed produced pincushions became aÂ commonly purchased trinketÂ and popular sewing necessity.
Ready Pincushion Pattern IJ-856 $8.99
Designed by: Amy Barickman-Indigo Junction
But how does the everÂ popular tomato pincushion fit into this story?
DuringÂ the Victorian Era, placing a tomato on the mantel of a new house would repelÂ evil and bring prosperity. Of course, tomatoes werenâ€™t always in season andÂ didnâ€™t last very long.Â Being clever andÂ resourceful, ladies would make their own out of cloth. Eventually this powerfulÂ mantle trinket became the perfect place to show off their lovely little pins.
Tomato Pincushion Pattern AK-172 $6.50
Designed by: AK-Annieâ€™s Keepsakes-Vicki Clontz
IÂ know youâ€™re thinking, â€œso how does its companion strawberry play into all this?â€
Well, the nickel coating on early mass-produced pins would flake off causingÂ the pins to rust. Creative tailors and seamstresses would use a bag of emeryÂ grit to clean their pins. Today we have a cute little strawberry attached toÂ our tomato pincushion that serves that same purpose.
Always sew for fun!
Carol Steely, FunThreads Designs