Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Sterling Silver Pincushion, Needle and Spoon Holder
 My sister-in-law, Maria, is from Brazil, and a few years ago, she went back for a visit. While there, she watched a cousin make adorable pincushions out of 2 liter Coke bottles. Back home,  Maria decided to try her hand at making the pincushions. Once she made one, she couldn't stop.  As I looked at how cute and unique her pincushions turned out, I couldn't help but wonder how the original "pincushion" came about?  I  discovered that as early as the 1300's, metal pins were very costly, precious items ad hard to find.  They were kept in small cases made of bone, ivory, or silver.  These  cases were often called pin keeper, pin case, pin poppet or tuffet.

Pink Antique Pincushion - Handmade American Shaker 1800's-1900's
At the beginning of the 1700's, simple stuffed shapes started to be used instead of the cases and were called pin-pillows.  They were made of colorful and elaborately decorated silks, linens, canvas, or satin.  The parlor room became the perfect place to display the novelty pincushions of that time.  

The pin-pillow evolved into mounted cushions. Silver or wooden stands were topped with these pin-pillows.
Large Antique Sewing Companion with Spool Holders & Pincushion Top
Many of the  pincushions were made in the shape of baskets, shoes, dolls, teacups, eggcups, fans, fruits, and vegetables.  Often, the pincushion was actually used more as a home decor item than as a sewing tool. They were hung on the walls or placed on tables.

Antique Victorian Sewing Bird Thread Holder Pincushion Quilt Clamp

During the 1900's, pincushions became more useful as sewing aids.  Clamp pincushions were decorative and functional.  They would be screwed onto a table edge while holding the fabric in place.

Victorian Mauchline Ware Treen Pin Cushion Sewing Haddon Hall c1890

Today, pincushions play an important part of our sewing history and a collectible that comes in many, many designs.

 Typically, it is a small cushion that is used in sewing to store pins or needles with their heads protruding so as to take hold of them easily, collect them, and keep them organized.  Pincushions are usually filled tightly with stuffing, so as to hold pins rigidly when placed.

Not many people actually have time to sit down and whip up their own

homemade pincushions.   For all the people out there who might want a pincushion, for whatever reason .  .  .  . Sewing, Gift-Giving, or Decor, here are some totally cute and gorgeous PINCUSHIONS by Maria.   


Friday, June 22, 2012


When I got married over forty years ago, I carried a bouquet of gardenias. At the time, I was drawn to the gardenia  because of it's fragrant, delicate white flower that seemed intoxicating. I've tried growing gardenia plants through the years with no success. On numerous occasions, my niece has brought me transplanted gardenias from her and her mother's yard in North Carolina. Recently, we moved to Millersville, Maryland, and once again, my niece has given me several gardenia plants for my new home.

 This time I decided to do some research on basic care and growth requirements in hopes of maintaining a lasting and rewarding relationship with my gardenia plants. I discovered that gardenias are tricky plants that are very particular about their growing conditions. They also require some consistent maintenance in order to keep them happy and beautiful. Many people, and I hope not to become one of them, give up on gardenias because of their finicky nature.  However, once I understand what a gardenia needs to survive, growing them will be very rewarding with their glossy green foliage and fragrant white blossoms.

 Gardenia Requirements are Very Exact:       
  • It demands bright (not direct) light - some shading in the summer (in the hottest areas)
  • It flourishes in acidic soils with good drainage
  • Keep the soil with plenty of organic matter, moist, but not soggy
  • It demands high humidity, or daily misting
  • Heavy feeding
  • Cool night temperatures
 I also discovered that gardenias are cold sensitive and may die during severe winters - something that can and has happened in my area.

For now, my gardenia plants are thriving.

Just this morning, I discovered a beautiful blossom on one of the plants. This, in itself, is a success story  .   .   . .   .   I've never had a gardenia plant to bloom!

See the morning dew? Oh, how pretty
 it is!!!