Ever wondered where the tomato pin cushion comes from?
Well, we did so we did a little digging and discovered it’s origins. What we found was so interesting that we shared it as our first segment of I’ve Got a Notion on our Quilting Podcast Stitched (That you you can listen to HERE.)
Below is the transcript from that segment…so you can find out all about the tomato pin cushion as well:
This week’s notion is…the tomato pin cushion. It seems like everyone has one…small, round, red….pins crammed into the top. But why a tomato?
To answer this we need to hop into the wayback machine and head straight for the Middle Ages. We will arrive somewhere in Europe at the dawn of the 15th century. The Renaissance is just beginning, Columbus is discovering the West Indies, Michelangelo is starting his work on the Sistine Chapel, and tomatoes are all the rage on fireplace mantels.
That’s right. Tomatoes on the mantel. Vine ripened tomatoes were placed on the mantel to ensure prosperity and, some say, to ward off evil spirits. However, in Mid-Evil Europe fresh tomatoes weren’t always on hand so decorative ones were created using fabric filled with sawdust.
It was also during this time period that pins became more readily available to the average housewife. Prior to this time pins were both rare and expensive and were kept in special boxes…but now that they more utilitarian and less precious it wasn’t long before those decorative tomatoes next to the hearth became a perfect place to hold those pins as the thouroughly modern midevil mother toggled between chores.
From here we are going to fast forward to the opulence of the Victorian Era. Napoleon is the French emperor, Beethoven is composing symphonies, America is heading towards a civil war, and the need for posh parlors was sweeping across both Europe and the United States.
And what was trending in all of those posh parlors? Why itty bitty little pin cushion collections of course! All the ladies had them in a variety of shapes. From dolls to shoes and from fruits to vegetables….and of course a must have in every collection was…the tomato.
It is likely that during this era the tomato was given a bit of a makeover with the addition of a tiny strawberry springing from its stem. This strawberry, filled with emery powder, is a handy tool for cleaning and sharpening your pins….which made the already perfect pin cushion even more perfect.
And just like that the tomato claimed her title as pin cushion champion and has been staple in sewing rooms ever since!
If you want to buy yourself a tomato pin cushion you can find one HERE on Amazon for less than $5.
Or….if you want to make your own pin cushion you can check out this tutorial to make a log cabin inspired one….you can find the free tutorial HERE.
And, if you want to find out more histories and interesting facts about quilting and notions check out Stitched HERE or subscribe to it on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify!
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