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Why Do Pincushions Look Like a Tomato?

When most people think of sewing pins and needles, they picture the iconic tomato pincushion. But where did this lasting image of the sewing world come from?

pin cushion tomato

The first mention of a pincushion dates back to the Middle Ages. Back then, needles were expensive so pincushions, or “pin poppets” as they were called, were the perfect way to keep one’s needles together and also display the collection. Pincushions were elaborate and beautifully decorated to reflect the wealth needed to maintain a collection of pins and needles. Sewing became more common and affordable so people were able to become more creative with the design of their pincushions.

According to tradition, placing a tomato on the mantle kept the bad sprits out of a new home. When tomatoes where out of season, people had to improvise by making their own tomatoes out of red fabric filled with sand or sawdust. The “voodoo” nature of the tomatoes encouraged people to poke it with pins.

Today, the tomato remains the classic symbol of needlework and sewing. Call us for more details on all of the pincushions available at Banasch’s sewing supplies!

pin cushion wrist
Wrist pin-cushion

Source: “Why are pincushions frequently made to resemble tomatoes?”  – Threads Magazine


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