Edwardian Pincushions- April, 1912

Everywhere The Pincushion

This charming article was originally published in Needlecraft Magazine- April, 1912. After reading it and typing it out, I’ll be looking a those antique pincushions I see while antiquing in a new light! I tried to scour for images of similar pincushions to illustrate what they were trying to describe, as the original article was not illustrated. These lovely antiques will help us visualize the wonderful things available a little over a hundred years ago. Please be sure to visit the Etsy shops linked, as some of these items are currently available. I’m in no way affiliated with the links- I just enjoy pretty old things and sharing the love.

“A well known writer, recently describing the ideal house, give as one of its essentials “a pincushion in every room.” It follows that so popular an article should be made as pretty and distinctive as possible, and every year sees many additions to the list of novelties along this line.

Image Source- Ruby Lane

The pincushion that hangs up must be separated by a sharp line from those that are designed to repose on the dressing-table, to rest in the sewing-basket, or to be a part of the “bachelor’s friend”. Again, almost all household-utensils, birds, butterflies, fish and leaves have been represented by the cushion caterer, without omitting the gallery of national costumes composed of native dolls dressed from the original sketches and keeping company with a legion of fanciful conceits bought in toy-shops.

Image Source- Skinner Auctions

Suspended from a brown twig is a luscious-looking ripe pear, with one side rosy with a kiss from the sun. On closer examination you discover this to be a pincushion. The pear is a piece of velvet which has been stretched about a sawdust foundation and then tinted with carmine on one side. The stem and twig from which it hangs are but small pieces of heavy wire, wrapped first with cotton and then with brown raffia or wood fiber.

Image Source- SadRosetta on Etsy

Odd little baskets have sawdust-filled cushions with coverings of bright silks, satins, ribbons, or lace. The handles are ribbon-trimmed, or are done away with altogether, if the cushion is to be set upon a stand.

Image Source: Wassail Antiques on Etsy

A volume could be written upon the various styles and ways to make novel cushion-covers, but it must not be forgotten that many people prefer to have their pincushions look like nothing but what they are. For those there are the plain covers of quaintly figured silk or brocade. The long, flat shape buttoned down by tiny silk buttons- like a miniature mattress- is among the best. Another is the tiny copy of the tapestry-covered hassock which almost every comfortable room boasts nowadays.”

Because I was unfamiliar with the terms-


  1. 1.NORTH AMERICANan upholstered footstool or ottoman.
  2. 2.a firm clump of grass or matted vegetation in marshy or boggy ground.

(via Mirriam-Webster)

The bachelor’s friend, as you doubtless know, is a case made of ribbon or linen containing needles, thread, thimble, buttons, and other such articles as you may deem appropriate, and which your purse will allow.” Rural New Yorker- October, 1910.

1 Comment on Edwardian Pincushions- April, 1912

    May 6, 2019 at 9:13 am (5 years ago)

    This is so charming and now I want a pincushion for each room!

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