My first pincushion was a tomato. My Mom had one. I thought it’s what everybody used – would always use.
It wasn’t until I got a few years older that I started seeing other types of pincushions. Back in the days before Pinterest and Instagram, we didn’t know about all the other options. Vintage? It hadn’t been invented yet.
Knowing that most of us used a pincushion – pin-collector – of some kind, I got curious. So I asked the Moda designers about their pin-habits. What kind of pincushion or pinbowl did they use? Was it their favorite – or just the one that best fit their needs? Do they have a collection? Do they pin a little or a lot? And what kind of pins do they use? (So I got a little bit nosey… you want to know too, don’t you?)
So get a cup of tea or coffee, sit back and get comfortable… this is going to take a few minutes.
Lynne Hagmeier – Kansas Troubles.
Lynne has a few dozen pincushions but these are her favorites. The three on the left were handmade gifts from friends and while she’s used them all at some point, they are currently in retirement while she uses the big wool roving pincushion on the right. She visited the artist who raises the sheep, spins the wool to use for afghans, sweaters, scarves and these wonderful pincushions. Lynne got a few for her retreat friends and wisely kept one for herself.
Jan designed and made this perfectly awesome, perfectly “I want this!” needle roll using Moda Wool, Needle Flannel, Brushed Homespuns and prints. It’s folk art and primitive and very “Jan Patek”. As Jan does primarily appliqué, this needle roll is so much better suited to her needs.
Betsy was one of the first to admit to having a collection – a fairly large one. She’s made some, received others as gifts and even purchased a few. The wool pear clamped to her sewing table is her favorite and the one she uses the most while at home. Betsy always has a few travel-sized pincushions she can take on teaching and retreat trips. Her pincushions must have some weight to them so they stay put, or they must fit into a box or carrier. Preferred stuffings are crushed walnut shells and wool.
Betsy pins when necessary, preferring to finger-pin when possible. That said, depending on the project, time and mood, she sometimes pins profusely. Her pins of choice are Clover Patchwork Pins 2507 and Clover Fine Quilting Pins 2509. No. 2507 are the finer of the two – long and thin. But when a little extra length is required, No. 2509 are what she uses.
Sandy Klop – American Jane.
The big used-to-be-red wool tomato sits by Sandy’s sewing machine. She never moves it so she doesn’t lose it. The red pinbowl stays on her ironing board for the same reason. The tins stay in her take-along sewing basket so they don’t get misplaced and the two pieced pinnies are gifts from a friend – they’re always getting lost under fabric. Her favorite pincushion is the Tiny Tuffet she made from a kit.
Despite all the pins, Sandy doesn’t pin a lot but she does pin. She knows when she needs to.
Pat wrote that “over the years, I’ve used every type of pincushion you can think of. But right now, I like the magnetic pinbowls because I can easily drop the pins in when she’s done.” That’s what she keeps by her sewing machine. The others are best for Pat’s handwork – she does a lot of appliqué, embroidery and embellishment. She doesn’t have a huge collection… but she owns up to having a few, enough to be a collection. Her favorites right now are the wool strawberries.
As for pinning – Pat’s describes herself as a “middle of the road” pinner. Meaning, she pins “some” but not a lot. Judging by the pins in the pinbowl, she likes flower-head pins.
Coriander Quilts – Corey Yoder.
Corey made all three of these pinnies. The hexie pincushion at the top is the one she uses most often but she has to turn it upside down to the non-cute side as pushing the pins through the hexies is “challenging”. The other two are pincushions she made to give away in pincushion swaps. How lucky were those two swap recipients?
Corey confesses to pinning as little as possible… but when necessary, she really likes Clover Flower Head Pins.
Shannon loves pincushions – especially those made with favorite fabrics. (I love the novelty print rectangle.) She likes having several pinnies around so that she doesn’t have to go far for pins because she is absolutely a “pinner”. Her favorite pins are the long quilting pins and flower-head pins by Clover.
Vanessa Goertzen – Lella Boutique.
A cupcake pincushion made by her Mom – that would be my favorite too. Vanessa doesn’t have a collection – not yet anyway. She pins when adding sashings and borders but not so much for blocks. She wrote “… I know, I know. That sounds bad.” I think she’ll be happy to know that she’s in good company – there are quite a few “not so much” pinners among the Moda designers. Her favorite pins? The glass head pins by Little House.
Frances Newcombe & Jane Davidson – Franny & Jane.
Frances sent this beautiful picture of the many pincushions she uses. Most were made by friends, though Frances made the little cake. The tiny green triangle was originally for a tossing game but she likes using it for projects she takes with her.
Since she uses different pins for different types of sewing projects, she uses several magnetic pincushions to keep them separate. Frances pins a lot when sewing bags but not as much for quilts and garments. Her favorite pins are:
- white glass-head dressmaking pins for garments
- Pink pearl thick pins for heavy duty projects with lots of layers
- thin quilting pins for piecing
- Clover appliqué pins
Jane uses many pincushions – there is one near every sewing spot, on her cutting table in her studio and around the house. Basically, every spot where she sews – now or in the future. She has a collection of pincushions she’s made and some she’s received as gifts. She doesn’t have a favourite (those Aussies and their extra letters) but she has a soft spot for this one…
It was a gift and she loves the delicate handiwork that went into making it.
As for pinning, Jane is a pinner! She uses “many pins for piecing. It helps stabilize your work and keep those intersections and points together.” She wrote that she sometimes wants to be “pin free” and throw caution to the wind but it doesn’t always work… often requiring a date with Seam the Ripper. But she tries anyway.
Jane also admits to sewing over pins – but does add that she uses very fine pins. (I knew there was a reason I really liked Jane!) Her favorites are the Little House pins.
This is Kate’s favorite pincushion – it’s made with her first Moda collection, Verna. It was a gift from Sherri McConnell and every time Kate uses it, she thinks of Sherri’s generosity and kindness. She wrote that “it’s also a touchstone for me because it takes me back to the beginning of my fabric-designing journey.”
The pins are Little House pins – a gift from Joanna Figueroa when Kate was starting to make quilts. Having this pincushion and pins next to her sewing machine makes her feel like her friends are there sewing with her.
Sherri McConnell & Chelsi Stratton – A Quilting Life.
Sherri does have a bit of a collection but this is her favorite. She made it using the pattern in Anna Graham’s book, Handmade Style. Her favorite pins are those by Little House and she’s a “25-percent pinner… when it’s essential.”
Sherri’s daughter Chelsi doesn’t have a collection. Yet. But she’s off to a good start with these two pincushions she made with her scraps.
She’s a pinner – she describes herself as pinning “quite a bit. I like to keep my projects nice and secure, as well as aligned, so pinning is a must while I’m sewing.” As you can see by the tin, Chelsi is also a fan of Little House pins.
Me & My Sister Designs – Barbara Groves & Mary Jacobson.
This is Barb’s pincushion – a brightly-colored wool roving pincushion she’s had for about 16 years. While she has a few others, this is her favorite, the one she uses every day. There are always two “just in case” safety pins stuck in the side. The misshapen white pin has been in there for about 10 years and the other white pin was left in a quilt from a quilter and it’s been there for almost 15 years. She has no idea why she’s saved them but she has. The three T-pins? She has no idea why the they’re there but they are bunched together.
Yes, Barb has always arranged her pins in “clumps”. While they get all messed up during a project, one of the first things she does after finishing is to put them in clumps again. Stray threads and bent pins are tossed.
She pins a lot – she actually stressed “LOTS”. And she sews over them. Her favorite pins are Clover Patchwork Pins No. 232 – small glass-head pins with a sharp tip. She also likes to iron over pins so the glass heads are particularly important.
And finally… Amy Ellis.
These are Amy’s two favorite pinnies and she uses them both. They each hold a different weight of pin – “teeny tiny” and “tiny” – aka Clover Patchwork Pins 2507 and Clover Fine Quilting Pins 2509. The super-fine Patchwork pins are great for pinning pieces and lightweight intersections while the Fine Quilting pins are best for pinning blocks and rows together, and for attaching borders. Both are fine enough and sharp enough that they glide through the fabric with no distortion. And there aren’t any holes to steam out later.
Amy pins as needed – finding that while she can skip pinning in some cases, sometimes a pin or two is needed to ensure that seams and points match up. And her pincushions must be filled with crushed walnut shells to keep them from wandering across the table as she reaches for them.
That’s it for today – we’re back tomorrow with a whole bunch more designers and their pinnies.
What about you? Do you have a favorite pincushion? Do you pin a lot or “just enough”?