Why Pincushions Have Always Seemed To Resemble a Tomato

What’s red and ripe and bursting at the seams with sewing pins? That enduring icon of the needlework world: the pincushion. If you grew up with a grandmother who sewed, no doubt you’re familiar with the tomato-shaped pincushion that was home to a variety of pins and needles. Pincushions come in all shapes and sizes, but the tomato design is classic. According to tradition, placing a tomato on the mantel of a new home ensured prosperity. A lady of the Victorian era would take immense pride in a parlor stocked with shelves of pincushions, but the tomato was always the crown jewel of her collection. The tomato pincushion was more than just a convenient place to keep needles and pins. Inside the tomato was sand and wool. When needles and pins were pushed into the tomato, they were sharpened by the sand and wool. The next time they were used, they would slip effortlessly through fabric to make sewing a breeze.