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Pincushions and emery bags

jyang949's picture

The August/September 2005 issue of Threads (#120) shows some pincushions that aren't the usual tomato shape. The handbag pincushion (picture attached) made me laugh, and I'd like to make a few as gifts.

What kind of fabric is appropriate for the outside of a pincushion? Does it have to be a nonwoven fabric, to hold the shape when the stuffing is put in? I'm guessing that the black trim is felt or leather, otherwise the scalloped edges would fray.

Tomato pincushions used to come with a strawberry-shaped bag that was filled with emery, for sharpening needles. It never seemed to do much good, though; sometimes the needles were too roughened to use anymore. Do sewers still use emery-sharpened needles?


Megh's picture

(post #28079, reply #1 of 10)

That pincushion is Fantastic!!  I love it.  That handbag looks like it may be made from wool crepe.

I don't think that many of us use the emery bags anymore; they really don't do much except to be decorative.  Also, I think that our society is more affluent and will simply throw away the dulled needle/pins.


sewanista's picture

(post #28079, reply #2 of 10)

That is just gorgeous! It looks like a fake suede to me. I'd use a natural fibre, fairly tightly woven, because some synthetics dull needles faster.

jyang949's picture

(post #28079, reply #4 of 10)

It could be pink wool crepe and black suede. Do you know if the fake suede ravels?

Needles could get lost inside the pincushion, so some sewers stored them in the emery bag. I've heard, however, that the needles could get rusty that way.

Come to think of it, I've had pins get rusty, too. Maybe a bag of desiccant could be stashed in the bottom of the pincushion?


mainestitcher's picture

(post #28079, reply #5 of 10)

I am so lazy. I know needles get lost in pincushions, so I put a zipper in the bottom of the last one I made.

It doesn't really take all kinds. It just turned out that way.
jyang949's picture

(post #28079, reply #6 of 10)

>> I am so lazy...I put a zipper in the bottom

That's not laziness; that's being Down East smart!

Besides, you don't want to get me started on my "I'm so lazy that..." list. ;)


CarolFresia's picture

(post #28079, reply #3 of 10)

I use the emery bag, but more to clean than to "sharpen" needles and, even more often, pins. If I get adhesive or something on a pin, a couple of jabs into the emery bag seems to clean it off nicely. If my fingers seem slightly sweaty when I'm handsewing, I find that the needle won't slide through the fabric as smoothly. Again, a quick polish with the emery makes the needle slippery again. Probably some sort of solvent would do the job, too, but the emery bag is quick and easy, and right at my fingertips.


fashionlizard's picture

(post #28079, reply #7 of 10)

That pin cushion is really cute. Couldn't you use a nice felt for the trim? Then you could put any decorative edge you like on it as you cut it out (looks as if they have a subtle scallop edge to that trim). You wouldn't have to worry about it fraying and if it is wool felt, it is good for your pins and needles.
I have made a few pin cushions out of fleece that I have felted myself. It is fun to make them, too!


Fashion Lizard

Coco's picture

(post #28079, reply #8 of 10)


I've never made a pincushion—what would you put inside the purse pincushion to give it weight so it would stand up? Maybe those plastic pellets for beanie babies?

fashionlizard's picture

(post #28079, reply #9 of 10)

For the solid felted pin cushion, I did not weight it at all. Just the weight of dense felt seems to be enough. It is similar in weight to the traditional tomato pin cushion.
For something constructed like the purse, some people use sand (in a baggie) to weight the bottom.


Fashion Lizard

Coco's picture

(post #28079, reply #10 of 10)

Thanks for the help!