Pincushions Rule

Petite little darlings perfect for sampling a technique.

Piecework Editorial Staff Sep 25, 2023 - 3 min read

Pincushions Rule Primary Image

What an array of pincushions from the 2008 PieceWork contest! Photos by Joe Coca

Since at least the sixteenth century, needleworkers have cherished their pincushions. These handy, often diminutive, sewing accessories continue to abound.

An array of pincushions: (left to right) baseball; jockey cap; cube with ribbon and flowers; child’s shoe; velvet and leather shoe; scalloped navy velveteen with beadwork pillow; and baskets. from the collections of Loene McIntyre and Anne Powell

Frequent PieceWork contributor Mary Polityka Bush focused on Victorian-era examples in her article in the March/April 2015 issue “Bunnies, Canoes—and Roller Skates, Too: Novelty Pincushions of the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries.” Here’s an excerpt:

“Other novelty pincushions replicated stylish ladies’ hats and shoes. Collectors filled cabinets with tiny chairs, rockers, coaches, sleighs, roller skates, wheelbarrows, canoes, and Venetian gondolas. Animal pincushions took numerous forms: domestic creatures included realistic and comic dogs of many breeds, kittens, and birds. Pigs led the farmyard parade, followed by mules, goats, lambs, and fowl. The wild animal category encompassed woodland denizens such as foxes, bunnies, and mice, as well as exotic elephants and camels. There were fearsome crocodiles and rhinoceroses, whose diminutive sizes rendered them more delightful than threatening. Perhaps the most charming were silver hedgehogs—pins, poked into an interior pincushion through holes in the perforated body, imitated the animal’s spiny armor.”

Marion T. Leyds’s stunning “Save the Trees Around the World” tatted pincushion.

Practical and fanciful—what a fabulous combination! There are complete instructions in the March/April 2015 issue for five stand-out pincushions—embroidered, knitted, and tatted. Sweet!

Pincushions do rule!

Mary Polityka Bush’s delightful and diminutive pincushion. The realistic straw hat would have been a favorite pincushion shape during the Victorian era. Thread winder, scissors, and needlecase from the collection of Loene McIntyre

Interested in creating your own pincushion? Find five fabulous projects in the March/April 2015 issue of PieceWork.

Also, remember that if you are an active subscriber to PieceWork magazine, you have unlimited access to previous issues, including March/April 2015. See our help center for the step-by-step process on how to access them.

Originally published March 4, 2015; updated September 25, 2023.