September 29, 2015

To Pin, or Not to Pin...

...That is the question.

To pin, of course!  What a silly question, especially if you have a collection of new pincushions to pin upon!

I haven't posted much about actual sewing recently, only because I'm in the middle of several projects.  CADD (Costume Attention Deficit Disorder) strikes again!  Anyways, one of those projects happens to be a new period appropriate, early to mid 19th century, sewing box.  Usually my sewing supplies are scattered all over my basket (and all over the house), so I think it's time they find a home in one spot...enter the perfectly period, wallpaper covered sewing box:

Here's a period example:

Mid 19th century wallpaper covered sewing box, 4.5" h. by 6.5" w.,
with a pincushion lid and blue floral decoration on an orange ground.
Live auctioneers, Lot 229

And here's mine: 

Reproduction wallpaper covered box, 8" by 8"
Courtesy of C. LeCount, thank you! 

With the pasteboard band box acquired, the next question is what to put in it?  So I turned to Anna Worden Bauersmith's blog, If I Had My Own Blue Box, for answers!  Anna is definitely a star in the historical sewing world, known especially for her excellence in millinery & sewing accessories.  (I've even had the privilege of meeting her in Mumford!)  Make sure to order a copy of her latest and greatest, Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases & Needle-books, and go follow her blog, if you don't already!  Seriously, both are outstanding resources.  

After a few searches there, I came across the best blog post I've ever read on all things sewing box related: What is in Your Sewing Box?  Not only does Anna share some great period resources on work boxes, but she details her own sewing box and basket, as well as two of Bevin's (which I've seen and even used in real life - yup, perks of being her intern!)  All of this together has proven most useful in assembling a sewing box of my own!

While still a work in progress, my next step is to create some sort of insert with dividers for the inside.  These are the fabrics I've chosen to use:

Two period calicoes, light green silk & chocolate silk.
(For some reason the coloring is funky in this picture...)

In the meantime, I have started to acquire a decent collection of pincushions and sewing accessories to fill my sewing box!  (Probably thanks in part to my Sewing Accessories Pinterest board.)  So, without further ado, onto the pincushion fun!

Number One:  Round cloth pincushions.  

Historical inspiration:

"Pincushion by Fanny Waddell made from material brought during the blockade from England and printed with the pattern of the Confederate second national flag, which was adopted in May 2, 1863" - North Carolina Museum of History
(Image via:

Pincushion collection: "six tomato pincushions in silk, velvet, cotton, multi-color floral patterns, and silk plaid...scallop shell with red silk silk covered disk with red velvet interior."
(Image via:

My version:  These aren't new by any means, but are my tried-and true-pincushions, which have accompanied me to work for the past two seasons.  I couldn't imagine my sewing box without one!

Number Two:  A Berlin work pincushion.

Ever since my brief introduction to needlepoint, thanks to my friend and fellow coworker, Judy, I've become obsessed!  (Needlepoint Pinterest Board)  Hopefully, more projects to follow...

Measuring a little over 3" by 3", the square features five different crewel wool yarns in a chevron-like pattern.  Backed with silk, flat-lined with cotton muslin, and embellished with handmade cording.  Such a fun, little project!

Number Three: A scalloped sea shell pincushion.  

Historical inspiration:

A trio of antique sea shell sewing pincushions, possibly Shaker.
According to the seller: "[Each] are fashioned from two shells that are hard-stuffed with velvet.  Similar pincushions made from scallop shells were made and sold by the Shakers in the 1880s from shells collected along the Maine shore"
(Image via: Etsy shop - AmericanaAntiques)

My version:

While my inspiration had two matching(?) shells, and originally my reproduction did as well (until one was stepped on), the finished pincushion features just one scalloped sea shell with a red velvet interior.  I have also seen similar historical examples using just one shell.  

And, it just so happens that Anna Bauersmith has a fantastic article of her own on shell pincushions and recreating them:  Shell Pincushions.  Go check it out!

Number Four: A basket pincushion. 

Historical inspiration:

Antique Sterling Silver Basket Pincushion, c.1800, England.
(Image via: Ebay seller - toys4boysandgirls12)

My version:  Constructed using a small, woven basket and silk, flat-lined with cotton muslin, for the cushion.

Number Five:  A button & thimble drawstring keep.  

While not exactly pincushions, I couldn't resist the opportunity to share the button & thimble keep I made for my sewing box!  Both circular keeps are fully lined and close by embroidery floss drawstrings.

Perfect for keeping antique china buttons, thimbles & mother of pearl buckles safe.

Well I'm off to fill my box with plenty more sewing goodies!

Scissors large and small, spools of thread, bone instruments...
all I want now is to find some nice bone or wood thread winders!

But, first, here's a bonus peak at my latest short gown study:

I have high hopes of finishing this outfit in time for September's Historical Sew Monthly Challenge, but another, spur-of-the moment project is taking my attention away from my entry...Thanks for reading!


  1. I love your pin cushions. Aren't they just too much fun to make?
    You picked such a pretty shell to work with. Too sad the other side didn't make it. (btw, I have some extra.)
    Thank you for the mentions. You make me blush.

    1. Thank you so much, Anna!! You've been such an inspiration! I can totally understand why you love to make sewing pretties, they're such fun, little, satisfying projects!
      And extra shells did you say? Hmm, ideas :)

  2. Ok, these are just too stinkin' cute Anneliese!! I have a collection of antique pin cushions, but these are adorable! I may have to make some from my scrap fabric!!! The shell one is my favorite I think...what a great idea!

    1. Thank you so much, Gina!! I blame Pinterest entirely ;)
      With your talented eye for color & detail, I can see you making a whole collection of intricate, patchwork pincushions! Oh I can't wait for what you come up with!

  3. Ok, now I want a shell pincushion! These are all very cool, and I love the sewing box, too!

    1. Thank you so much, Chelsea!! Pincushions are such fun, little projects :)