12 Pincushions Worth Collecting for Your Sewing Projects

Photo: Chelsea Cavanaugh

Keep needles and pins in order with these charming notions. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes—a prickly cactus, hedgehog, wearable wristband, or the classic tomato.

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Chelsea Cavanaugh

The tools we return to again and again have a blend of function and design that elevate them above the mundane. This perfectly describes a pincushion—simple, useful, and nearly unnoticeable, except when you use it. What is it? A pincushion is a tufted cushion that can be made from remnants of shirting fabric, felt, or ribbon, meant to safely store pins and needles for sewing. For their homespun charm, they are one of our favorite collectible items. Once you start looking at pincushions, you'll see them as original reflections of your own personality.

Among manufactured pincushions, the most charming ones include menageries of miniature animals—a bird, a bear, or (fittingly) a porcupine, could be saddled with a pillow for pins—and a wide assortment of doll-size metal shoes with cushion-filled insoles. The tomato and strawberry became the most widely copied subjects. Commonly sewn in red flannel, cotton, or velvet, the tomato has the usual stuffing of sawdust, wool, down, or bran; the berry is filled with emery, the fine, mineral abrasive that cleans and sharpens needles. Depending on your taste, collectors' differing standards may give you an advantage: Some seek out only never-been-pricked cushions, while others value the character that comes from use—a worn spot here, a cluster of pinholes there.

Today, artisans of all trades give them a reimagined vision and bespoke quality: a prickly cactus, a lidded jar, or even a wearable wristband that makes it as pretty as it as practical. Choose from our collection of the best ones, and become inspired to take on a skill or two.

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Mod Minimalist

Tulip pincushion
Courtesy of Tulip Company

Don't let its minimalist design fool you: The cherry wood mount provides a sleek and stable base for this Japanese-style pincushion. The cotton cloth and padding come in a variety of beautiful colors, each celebrating a month of the year.

Shop Now: Tulip Company Pincushion, $20, modernmacrame.com.

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Bold Brass

brass pincushion
Courtesy of Garrett Wade

Hold it in your hand and you'll immediately notice the satisfying heft, which helps to keep this pincushion from moving when pins are inserted or removed. Plus, it's helpful in holding materials in place during layout.

Shop Now: Garrett Wade Solid Brass Pincushion, $23.50, garrettwade.com.

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Classic Charm

yellow flowered pincushion
Courtesy of GAMESPFF

The florals of your grandmother's pincushion are newly upgraded—Liberty of London, Rifle Paper Co., and Japanese chiyogami-inspired prints—nothing of old-fashioned chintz.

Shop Now: GAMESPFF Round Pin Cushion with Wooden Base and Printed Floral Fabric, $7.98, amazon.com.

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Mushroom Magic

felted mushroom pincushion
Courtesy of Foxtail Creek Studio / Etsy

As if sprouted from an enchanted forest, this pair-of-mushrooms pincushion sets a charming little scene. It's artisanal made with a combination of wet-felted and needle felted wool in natural colors.

Shop Now: Foxtail Creek Studio Miniature Mushrooms Pincushion, $44.75, foxtailcreekstudio.etsy.com.

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bohin wrist pincushion
Courtesy of Bohin

As we said, pincushions are both pretty and practical; this one is especially practical. Whether you're taking measurements or draping fabric over a dress form, this pincushion keeps your notions within easy reach.

Shop Now: Bohin Wrist Pincushion, $20.76, amazon.com.

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pincushion with leather loop
Courtesy of Connecting Threads

This plump, little pincushion is made from fragrant hinoki cypress from the Kii Mountains of Japan and its fabric is "Banshu weave," produced in the North Harima region of Hyogo Prefecture. Its genuine leather loop makes it wearable in another way—as a pendant on a necklace.

Shop Now: Cohana Cypress & Fabric Pincushion, $19, connectingthreads.com.

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plaid tomato pincushion
Courtesy of NH Shaker / Etsy

This pincushion is made using age-old techniques, better to withstand long-term use. John Ryan, a juried member of the League of NH Craftsmen, has been crafting Shaker reproductions for 30 years. The base is made from cherry hardwood, secured with copper tacks, and then topped with a plaid cushion that's hand-stitched in webbed detail.

Shop Now: NH Shaker Shop Handcrafted Shaker Tomato Pincushion, $24, nhshakershop.etsy.com.

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Bunny Rabbit

bunny pincushion
Courtesy of Colored Craft / Etsy

This charming baby bunny decorates the top of a pincushion, covered in burlap and firmly cushioned with a dry fiberfill. Take a closer look, and you'll be delighted by its embroidered details—in the bunny's pink nose and the surrounding flowers.

Shop Now: Colored Craft Bunny Pincushion, $24, coloredcraft.etsy.com.

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Prickly Cactus

cactus pincushion
Courtesy of Crisp Ceramic / Etsy

Two artists, a seamstress and a potter, collaborated to create this plush little houseplant. The cactus itself is made from premium felt and it's planted in a hand-thrown terra-cotta clay pot. As a diminutive detail, each cactus comes with two pin "flowers" in pink and yellow.

Shop Now: Crisp Ceramic Cactus Pincushion, $36, crispceramic.etsy.com.

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Natural Materials

wooden emery pincushion
Courtesy of Colored Craft / Etsy

This pincushion is filled with abrasive emery sand, meaning every prick of the cushion will sharpen your needles and prevent them from rusting. On its covering, the open weave of the burlap fabric means that needles will pass through it with ease.

Shop Now: Colored Craft Emery Wooden Pincushion, $24, coloredcraft.etsy.com.

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Cuddly Creature

felted hedgehog pincushion
Courtesy of Uniq Wool / Etsy

What could be more fitting than a hedgehog? This felted woodland animal holds sharp pins and needles as its prickly spines; plus, it makes a charming companion to all of your sewing projects.

Shop Now: Uniq Wool Hedgehog Pincushion, $38, uniqwool.etsy.com.

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Custom Flair

embroidered felt pincushion
Courtesy of Stitched Modern

Lastly, what pincushion could be better than the one you made yourself? As a crafter, you can stitch together your own cushion—a lesson in sewing and embroidery techniques—in folk-art design.

Shop Now: Corinne Lepierre Embroidered Felt Pincushion Kit, $16, stitchedmodern.com.

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