I’m sure this has happened to many a sewing phenom who’s had one of those magnetic pin holder contraptions. You know, the yellow oval thing that looks like it could double as a soap dish. Nice for keeping the pins in place . . .not so nice when it drops on the floor late at night and all the pins go scattering across the floor along with the cat who was dozing so nicely under the sewing table. So I have reverted back to a traditional stuffed fabric pincushion.
The uber-common design of a tomato with a funny little strawberry attached was most likely introduced during the Victorian Era. But really . . . a tomato and a strawberry? I mean, the strawberry is kinda cute but the tomato just makes me think of pasta which makes me hungry. According to Tomatoes Are Evil.com, pins were initially stuck in ripe tomatoes all over Europe. The firmness of the skin with the softness of the inner pulp was ideal for keeping the pins in place. When no ripe tomatoes were abound, housewives and seamstresses made red, tomato-looking cushions for their pins. And since tomatoes and strawberries grow well together . . . voila!
Pincushions are typically filled tightly with stuffing so that the pins are held rigidly in place once poked into the fabric. Traditionally, wool roving (un–spun wool) is used in the tomato in order to prevent rust on the pins. The attached strawberry is typically filled with an abrasive such as emery in order to keep the pins clean and sharp.