We’re about halfway through and we’ve learned three things.
(Super-pretty pin pictures by Brigitte – Zen Chic.)
The Moda designers love pincushions. They also love pins and they’re a bit picky about the pins they use – meaning that they know exactly what they like. Three? They’re not using those pins as much as you’d think.
Most admit to pinning “when necessary”. What I love is that they know when it’s necessary – lots of seam junctions, tiny pieces, places where matching is essential, etc. The quality of their workmanship shows that they’ve learned and practice good “technique”. These girls have serious mad skillz.
Wait – make that four things. This has been a lot of fun – I hope you’re enjoying this poking into sewing rooms and studios as much as I am.
Lisa Bongean – Primitive Gatherings.
Lisa uses a magnetic polka dot pinbowl by her sewing machine – a gift from a friend. It’s perfect for pins, bobbins and “stuff” you keep by your machine. The pincushion attached to the design wall is genius – move all the pins at once instead of one at a time.
A pincushion collection? Absolutely! Lisa loves every kind of antique sewing item and pincushions are at the top of her list. She often receives pincushions as gifts when teaching and traveling. The very old punched tin circle with the velvet insert is one of her favorites – she wrote that “I hope/pretend/dream that it was made by a man for his sweetheart as a gift to show he supported her needlework… kind of like when my sweetie Nick bought me a Bernina sewing machine before we were married. He knew how to hook me – it’s how he finally persuaded me to marry him.”
As for pinning, Lisa pins a lot and just a little. When there are a lot of seams, she pins a lot to make sure everything matches up. When there are fewer seams and they magically nestle against each other… not so much. Her pins are the Clotilde Glass Head Silk Pins – they’re very fine, very sharp Japanese pins.
French General – Kaari Meng.
Kaari loves old and vintage so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she has a “bunch of old pincushions” on her sewing table. Her favorites are the small round ones as they fit easily into her sewing basket for traveling. She admits that her collection is for show – they make her heart sing to see them. But she does use a few of her old pincushions and “they work just fine!” Her pins are the Japanese Glass Head Pins from Clover – every color and every length.
While she uses pincushions from her vintage collection – I had to have one of the French-inspired pincushions Kaari had made from vintage linen she found in France for her French General shop.
Laurie Simpson & Polly Minick. Simpson & Minick.
Simpson & Minick because Laurie sent a picture before Polly did.
Laurie’s favorite pincushion is the “massive and heavy horse” filled with sand. It sits next to her chair when she’s hand-sewing and it makes a wonderful sandpaper-sound when she puts a pin into it. She used to travel with it but not anymore because the folks at TSA find large, heavy, sand-filled items to be highly suspect. The well-worn Prairie Paisley tomato is less suspicious so it gets to travel. For machine-piecing, Laurie loves her red polka-dot pinbowl because it’s faster than a pincushion – she just “aims and throws pins in it’s general direction and it works.”
Pins and pinning? She uses a lot of Little House Pins when machine-piecing – Laurie says she needs all the help she can get. For hand-piecing, she uses some “obscenely tiny pins” she received as a gift – Karen Kay Buckley’s Shorter Perfect Pins. For applique… no pins. Just basting glue. (Laurie called it the “dark side”.)
Minick & Simpson – the other half.
Yes, Polly makes pincushions. She uses them for her mending and darning – did you know she loves to darn socks? (Her poor, sweet husband hasn’t had new socks in decades…) You know I’m joking, right?
Just as it is for those of us who sew, making small things is a whole lot of fun. And the results are usually wonderful so yes, Polly loves her pincushions even though she doesn’t sew. Her “horse” is fairly large… it’s been called a “pin pillow” by a sewing friend.
Bunny Hill Designs – Anne Sutton.
Anne has lots of pincushions – many of which she’s designed and made. These are some of her wonderful “Bitty” pincushions, Spring Fling and Easter Peeps.
Her favorite pincushion is a pink tomato she purchased at a quilt shop – it holds her favorite Little House applique pins. The purple Clover Magnetic Pin Caddy stays by her sewing machine… and on the cutting table… and elsewhere, Anne has three or four of them located in her studio. (I’m betting at least one of the others is pink.) The aqua pins are by Little House.
The first thing to remember is that Sandy is both a quilter and an accomplished garment-maker. Her pincushions, pins and amount of pinning vary depending on which type of sewing she’s doing. When she’s piecing quilt tops, Sandy uses an adorable little pincushion she made using a bottle cap as a base. (Sandy also designed the pincushion, it’s in her terrific little project booklet, Easy Peasey.) It’s Velcro’d to the side of her sewing machine so it’s right where she needs it… which isn’t that often as she only pins seam junctions. The “old standard magnetic” pin caddy that Sandy describes as a “snooze-fest” in the looks department works best for garment sewing because it requires so much more pinning to accommodate ease, curves and all that clothing-related stuff. Preferred pins? As fine as possible – with plain heads, thank you.
Like so many of the designers, Jo loves to have a magnetic pin caddy by her sewing machine. Red. Thank you. She wrote that she’s used one for many years and while she’s tried other types of hold-the-pins-things, she’s used to the magnetic kind. Using something else breaks her sewing rhythm because it’s easier to put the pin on-near the pin caddy than to stick it into a pincushion. She also has a “regular” pincushion by her machine, it’s one she made for herself. She pins a lot and her pins of choice – the Clotilde IBC Glass Head Silk Pins and the Clover Patchwork Pins 2507.
When she’s hand-sewing, Jo uses a small pincushion made by a friend using a vintage salt cellar as a base. She also uses a ring-style pincushion.
As for the rest, Jo’s enviable collection includes vintage, gifted, purchased and made-by-her pincushions.
I admit it – this is one of my favorites. Janet made this embroidered pincushion many years ago and while she has plenty of others, this is the only one she uses. He’s supposed to be a Spaniel but she concedes he’s a bit grumpy-looking, understandable given that he’s always having pins stuck into him. But never near his face – Janet is quite adamant about that. He’s filled with sand so he’s nice and heavy. The sand also helps keep Janet’s Clotilde IBC Glass Head Silk Pins very sharp for her frequent pinning. She pins everything – every single seam – and she would never, ever sew over a pin.
(I think she’s a bit shocked that I have been known to do that… when I pin.)
Fig Tree Quilt Co. – Joanna Figueroa.
Joanna makes beautiful pincushions that she changes out in her studio seasonally – strawberries in the summer, the Sugar Pumpkin in the fall and so on. (I may or may not have several of these patterns.) She keeps a smaller pincushion next to her sewing machine – right now it’s one of her pears from A Pear in a Tree – but her favorites are always changing. In her travel bag, it’s a tiny velveteen emory-filled strawberry. While some of her pincushions are stuffed with fiberfill, those that are filled with crushed walnut shells-hulls are favored because of the weight and the feel when pins are inserted.
If you think this is all of Joanna’s pincushions, she confessed that it would take her days to photograph her entire collection. It started with vintage pincushions, then grew when friends gave her pincushions they’d made with vintage fabrics and remnants. That led to her making them herself and an obsession was born. Her words – not mine!
For a girl with this many pincushions, you’d think she’d be an obsessive over-pinner, right? Not so. She doesn’t “love to pin” so she pins only where she absolutely has to – where seams will show if they don’t match, where they’ll bother her if they don’t match – star points, inner points, etc., and borders. (She wrote that she learned that lesson the hard way.)
As for her favorite pins, Joanna is a devotee of Little House Pins from Japan. Her friend Noriko introduced her to them more than ten years ago and she hasn’t used anything else since. Her favorites are the pins in the tin because “… let’s be honest, that little tin is to-die-for!”
Jen’s favourite and most-often-used pincushions were gifts. She wrote that the black & white pincushion was made “in the colours of my football team – Collingwood, thank you! – with my initial appliquéd onto it by the gorgeous Louise Papas who works with me at my store”. The coloured and embroidered cushion was a gift from the “wonderful girls at Oklahoma Quiltworks”.
This little finger pinnie – which she uses daily – was a gift from Jeanette when she taught in Newcastle earlier this year. She made two of them using fabrics from Jen’s Gardenvale
collection range. The pins are Clover Patchwork Pins 2507.
Finally! A real, honest-to-goodness, bona-fide pincushion! This is what Deb has used since Junior High School in the Busy Bees 4-H Club. She uses it a lot because she pins a lot – it’s how she was taught to do it and she’s never strayed. (And it’s why we love her!)
She also has a wonderful collection of “make-do’s” made by her husband Scott’s Aunt Polly.
Robin prefers a pinbowl – from Anthropologie – to a pincushion as she wrote that she’s too impatient to put pins back into a pincushion when she’s busy working on a project. While working, she leaves them scattered on a desktop as she’s sewing and pulling pins out. In between concentrated sewing and pinning times, she prefers to have them in a pincushion.
This watermelon is made using Robin’s upcoming Poppy Mae fabrics – the center of the watermelon is the center of a poppy flower. How perfect is it for this pincushion? Two additional prints from the collection were used for the rind. Perfection!
As for pins and pinning, Robin wrote that she doesn’t pit at all when sewing simple squares or cut shapes next to other ones, but she always pins when joining rows. And always when sewing curves! “A lot” means a flat-head flower pin about every two inches or so – those are her favorite pins.
Zen Chic – Brigitte Heitland.
For You fussy-cut hexies, the newsprint from Modern Backgrounds Paper and the Moda Cross Weave in Graphite are what Brigitte used to make this perfect little pincushion. It’s the one she uses for her hand-sewing as she can carry thread, a few Wonder Clips and a seam ripper with her. It’s also easy to keep the sewing needles separate from the pins.
For machine-sewing and long-arm quilting, Brigitte prefers a Magnetic Pin Caddy. If they’re accidentally knocked over, the pins stick to the caddy. And when pins are pulled out of the finished quilt, she can leave them laying on the top and then use the pin caddy to collect them as they “magically jump into that little oval”.
Brigitte tries to pin as little as possible simply to enhance the efficiency of working. When sewing patchwork where the seams are prepared to nest easily, pinning can be minimized. But for complicated blocks with curved seams, y-seams and lots of seam junctions, she pins first.
Pretty pins with cute, fun or shimmery, pearlized heads are her favorites – they’re pretty, they have a luxe look and they can be removed easily because of the head. The rosette pins in the first picture of this post – they’re not practical but they’re gorgeous! As Brigitte wrote, “if you want to spoil someone who has nearly every sewing notion, send them something like this, the most fancy pin ever!”
Cotton Way – Bonnie Olaveson of Bonnie & Camille.
These Stitchin’ Pretty Pincushions were designed and made by Bonnie – and she uses them! They’re her new favorite – they’d be mine too! – and she’s made several for friends. Scraps and lots of wonderful embroidery make them a lovely Handmade treasure. The pins in Bonnie’s picture are Little House Pins – “so sharp they make pinning so easy.” And yes, Bonnie pins a lot.
As beautiful as Bonnie’s pincushions are, this last one is her “all-time favorite”.
It was made by her 5-year old granddaughter, Olivia using two mini charm squares, a length of embroidery floss, three cotton balls and a whole lot of love.
It’s quite perfect.