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The purpose of the Strawberry on the Tomato Pincushion

The purpose of the Strawberry on the Tomato Pincushion as we know strawberries don’t grow on tomatoes or vise Versa. What are the purposes for it and yes there are more than two! #pincushion #strawberrypincushion #tomatopincushion #pepperpincushion

The purpose of the Strawberry on the Tomato Pincushion

The purpose of the Strawberry on the Tomato Pincushion as we know strawberries don’t grow on tomatoes or vise Versa.  What are the purposes for it and yes there are more than two! #pincushion #strawberrypincushion #tomatopincushion #pepperpincushion

Why is there a strawberry on the tomato pincushion. I never knew this and I took Home Economics and interesting enough, I still have my tomato pin cushion from then, the early to mid 1990’s. I never knew it was strawberry until 2021.

I heard it had at least two functions … So is that true and/or there other uses? But I dug and found more!

In the world of sewing and quilting, having the right tools at your disposal can make all the difference in the outcome of your projects. One such tool that has stood the test of time and remains a beloved staple in every quilter’s arsenal is the tomato pin cushion.

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Though its name may sound whimsical, this unassuming little tool serves an essential purpose in the sewing world. In this blog post, we will delve into the history, functionality, and enduring popularity of the tomato pin cushion.

The design of the tomato pin cushion is simple yet effective. Traditionally, it consists of a round ball-shaped body resembling a tomato, made of fabric and filled with stuffing. The fabric covering serves as a soft surface for pins and needles to be pushed into, while the stuffing helps keep the pins in place. Additionally, a small attached loop or ribbon allows the pin cushion to be easily carried or hung on a sewing machine or worktable.

1. Sharpening your needles

The tomato pin cushion often includes a small attached strawberry-shaped emery-filled pincushion. Rubbing your dull pins against the emery surface helps remove any rust or burrs, effectively sharpening the tips for smoother and easier sewing.

2. Use it to hold the current needle you are working on

The small strawberry can be used to hold your current needle if you wanted too.

3. Cleaning your needles

The emery powder inside the strawberry also helped to clean your needles too. So a multiple purpose.

4. Decoration and looks

But that handy strawberry pairing wasn’t in the original design. It is more of a newer addition. Tomatoes were kept on the mantle to ward off evil spirits. Thus the main reason for the tomato design. (They date back to 15th Century)

5. Portability

Due to its compact size and lightweight design, the tomato pin cushion is highly portable. Whether you’re attending a sewing class, a quilting bee, or simply moving between workstations in your own sewing room, you can easily carry your tomato pin cushion with you.

6. Organization & Storage

With a tomato pin cushion, you can keep your pins and needles neatly organized and readily accessible while you work. The cushion’s soft surface allows you to push pins in and out with ease, preventing them from scattering around and getting lost.

7. Stress ball

The tomato pin cushion can be used as a stress ball substitute or as a handy wrist rest while typing or crafting.

Although the traditional tomato pin cushion is widely recognized, there are regional variations that reflect the diversity of sewing traditions worldwide. For example, in Japan, the equivalent pin cushion is often shaped like a small bag or pouch known as a “tomiko.” In some African countries, pin cushions are crafted using local fabrics and decorated with intricate beadwork, showcasing the uniqueness of their respective cultures.

Over the years, tomato pin cushions have become highly sought-after collectibles. Vintage pin cushions, especially those from the Victorian era, are particularly valuable and can fetch high prices in the antique market. Collectors often look for unique designs, rare fabrics, and exceptional craftsmanship when adding to their collections.

Side note, some people think that piece attached to the tomato pincushion is a pepper. We could say this blog post can also serve as the purpose of the Pepper on the Tomato Pincushion for those folks.

Another note pins used to be more rare and expensive, but now they are readily available and cheap. But, sewing clips are replacing pins.

So I found four uses of the strawberry on the tomato pincushion. Do you know of any other uses? Feel free to share in the comments below. I just might add it to this list.

Some say that the strawberry is useless with todays straight pins because the way they are made and how cheap they are to buy.

Beyond its practical utility, the tomato pin cushion holds a special place in the hearts of quilters and sewers as a symbol of their craft. It represents a connection to a rich history of needlework and serves as a reminder of the creativity, skill, and dedication required to create beautiful quilts and garments. Many quilters cherish their tomato pin cushions as heirlooms, passing them down through generations.

The tomato pin cushion, with its humble origins and timeless design, continues to be a cherished tool in the sewing community. Its ability to keep pins organized, sharpen needles, and provide a portable pin storage solution has endeared it to quilters and sewers around the world. As you embark on your next sewing project, remember the humble tomato pin cushion, a small yet essential companion that will serve you faithfully for years to come

Pin Cushion Costume this person dressed up as a pin cushion for Halloween.

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First published December 31, 2021. Last updated or republished May 2, 2023.

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