A Really Great Pincushion

This pincushion is almost as old as I am. It was made by an elderly German neighbour lady, Mrs. Kuntz, back in the late '60's, and has served both my mother and me through many years of sewing projects.

The construction is quite ingenious and a marvel of re-purposed materials. Seven clean, empty baby food tins (about the size of tomato paste cans) were wrapped in scraps of upholstery fabric gleaned from sample books, then nested tightly together. I would want to use a glue gun to hold them together, but since they didn't have glue guns back then maybe she used rubber cement or white glue.
Then, a base of a tough laminated fabric was cut out and hand stitched to the fabric covered cans. I'm just guessing how she made the top - perhaps she wadded up fibrefill stuffing over a layer of cardboard and then glued or sewed the upholstery fabric over that, covering the seam with a twisted cord made of leftover yarn.
I love the generous size. It's great for when I'm sewing a seam and removing pins as I go, blindly stabbing them in the general direction of the pincushion and usually hitting the target. Since the suit I am currently making used almost all of my pins, I took the opportunity to clean the cushion and remove the buried needles. Now it's ready to serve another 40 years!

I remember we also had a small footstool made by Mrs Kuntz in exactly the same materials, only using large juice cans. It was quite sturdy and just the right size for a young child to sit on.


  1. Amazing what the old lady was able to create with left over materials, a true recycler!

  2. My husband's great-aunt used to make these footstools out of tomato juice cans. She lived in Norwich, Connecticut. I always wanted to know how she made these, but she never got around to telling me, and now she is long gone. At last you have shared the secret! This was a real blast from the past. Loved it.
    Maybe now I can make these from some of my handwoven scraps and samples. Of course that means I would have to drink a lot of canned tomato juice first. Hm-m-m. Not so sure about that.


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