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The innocent tomato

The recorded origins of pincushions date back to the Middle Ages of Europe. In the English language, they became known by many names: "pimpilowes, pimpilos, pimplos, pimploes, pin-pillows, pin-poppets".[1]In 1376, Jehanne de Mesnil was bequeathed a silver pin case in a French text called Testament of Advicewritten by a woman known as La Monteure, from Rouen. Other references to pin cases during the Medieval era exist. By the 16th century, these were supplanted by references to "pin pillows". Some examples from various parts of Europe survive that have elaborate embroidery. Small porcelain baskets with a pin cushion inside were highly popular, as were small cushions, such as wedding pillows or maternity pillows, embroidered with messages.[2]Typically, the pincushion was filled with cotton, wool, horsehair, or sawdust, though some were filled with emery powder, an abrasive to clean and sharpen the pins.[3] You need to be sure the pincushion filling is small enough not to dull the very tip of the needles and pins or big enough to not leak from pinholes.[4]

During the 18th century, weighted pincushions became popular among seamstresses. In England, seam clamps attached to a table and designed for holding hems for sewing became common and were often in the shape of a bird (the tail would be pinched to open and close the "beak" to hold the fabric), attached to the back of the bird was a velvet pin cushion.[5]

One especially popular design is that of a tomato, often with a small attached strawberry containing emery powder.[6] The tomato design was most likely introduced during the Victorian Era. It is commonly stated that the origin of this design was a belief that placing a tomato on the mantel of a new house guaranteed prosperity and repelled evil spirits and that if tomatoes were out of season, families improvised by using a round ball of red fabric filled with sand or sawdust, which also became a place to store pins.[7] However, this statement appears to have no basis in historical fact, and pincushions in the shapes of many different vegetables were common in the Victorian Era.[8]

Starting soon I will be having donation workshops. We will be making lap quilts for hospice patients that are wheel chair bound. We will meet on a regular basis. (most likely on Saturdays) The lap quilts are easy and a request is for mostly for men.

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