Sunday, January 20, 2008

Let's talk stuffing

I have had many people write me about what I stuff my pincushions with. I use the ordinary Polyfil.

I know some stuff with wool but I try to avoid it since I'm not using wool for the outisde due to many people being allergic to wool so I just use the ordinary cheap as you can get fiberfill. Hypoallergenic is good, recycled is good. I also pack them FULL, stuffing in as much as I can get them to hold and still keep it shut. I use the ends of my blunt scissors or even old take out chopsticks for stuffing sticks. if you can still fit in our stuffing, keep stuffing, and be sure to pay attention to the sides ad there are no flat areas. You want it to be well rounded and bounce back fully from a hard finger press.

Be sure to stuff any wrinkly areas to fill out the wrinkles entirely. No one likes a wimpy pincushion.

A few words on stuffing materials:

There is a "hard" pack or clumping kind for dollmakers, I have tried it and I hate it, clumping is right! It compresses and doesn't have the oomph. Compression is bad as I see it you want the airspace to fill so your pins/needles are held securely, when they compress they get hard for one, but they also decrease the surface area gripping our pins and I find it will allow 'shake outs" or pin droppage.

I will on occasion use polyester "Dollmaker" beads to add a little heft and weight to the bottoms (only) as well, you could even use them to fill a pincushion entirely though I won't suggest it as they would provide too little support with the round sides not giving enough surface contact to actually HOLD a needle or pin. Not enough resistance means pins would loosen with a easy drop.

The first pincushions in the 16th century were stuffed with sawdust or wheat bran or germ. I imagine the dust from one of those after a few years use was pretty bad! And probably went mealy or bug infested in time. Ew. That stuffing, as well as wool or hay, seemed to carry on for quite a while it was cheap and readily available in most households.

I've seen DottyRal use Emery sand which is what the old little attached strawberries on the old style red tomato pincushions your grandma used were filled with - and I wanted to address that. While it is a old style of sewing notion it's not the best idea for a pincushion.

When old pins dulled they became dangerous to fine fabrics as they pulled fibers, so they used the emery bags every so often to keep them sharp and clean from tarnish. But here's the problem: modern pins/needles don't dull or tarnish, and antique pins weren't plated.

Pressing a modern pin into a emery bag can scratch that highly slick chrome finish and even help flake it off with the abrasive action of being sand. You ever press a flakey finish pin through fabric? Trust me, it causes pulls. Modern pins also are of a more hardened steel, they rarely if ever dull and due to the finish to do not require sharpening. And if they do, they are cheap enough to discard if they flake or dull. Antique pins were pricey, even when they first began to be at least partially factory manufactured in the Victorian era so you tended to try to eek every cent out of them.

I hope this helped I'll think I'll be posting some more of these how-to/info posts on materials, and history (I'm a history nut) as this blog progresses.

Thanks for reading!


Joana said...

Great post! Thanks:)

Karina said...

Wow - you answered every question I had. Thanks for the info. I was so caught up in "designing" a cute pin cushion...I got a little stressed when I finally realized I didn't know what to "stuff" it with.

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