Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stuffing a Pin Cushion

Miss Bumble Pin Cushion

 What do you stuff a pin cushion with? Many of you use fiberfill. It is available, cheap, easy to use. BUT, the down side is that it is so lightweight, your pin cushion can be sent flying through the air with just a flick of the wrist! It does absolutely nothing for your pins and needles either! It is really difficult to stuff the cushion firmly enough with fiberfill to easily hold the pins and needles.
I've been working on a new pattern. It is a  little bee pin cushion and will come as a kit. You will have the materials to make 2 pin cushions. Two little gift cards with a cute little verse will be included. While working on the design, I started thinking about stuffing. I was using cotton, which is okay, but still not perfect.
So I went on a search. What are other people using as filling for pin cushions? Here is what I found, in no particular order:
  • 1. crushed walnut shells (sold in pet shops as bedding for reptiles)(This is what I am going to try, by the way.)
  • 2. fine bird gravel
  • 3. sand, fine not coarse
  • 4. wool roving (the natural lanolin is good for your pins and needles)
  • 5. hair from your hairbrush (the natural oil in the hair is good for pins and needles)
  • 6. yellow split peas  or lentils
  • 7. dryer lint (Hmmmm....I don't have pets. This could work.)
  • 8. steel wool
  • 9. bran from a pet shop mixed with lavender (bran has natural oils and lavender has a good scent)
  • 10.  water softener rock salt
  • 11. bar of soap (I've actually used one for pins before but you can't "stuff" a pin cushion with one!
  • 12. polar fleece cut into tiny bits
  • 13. smashed coffee beans
  • 14. old ground coffee
  • 15. pencil shavings (the graphite supposedly acts as a lubricant to your pins and needles) (Does it leave a residue or does graphite sift out???? I have no idea.)
  • 16. fine sawdust, but not from pressure treated or exterior wood! 
  • 17. dry grass clippings
  • 18. husks from oats, buckwheat or wheat
  • 19. thread and fabric clippings
  • 20. "raw" cotton (from the boll) 
There are a few ideas that come to mind from historical accounts of mattress stuffing such as horsehair, feathers, straw, dandelion fluff and even Spanish moss!
I picked up a little pillow for a couple of dollars that is filled with little styrofoam pellets. I think that would work if stuffed tightly (although it wouldn't give the weight I would like.)
Notice that I am not endorsing any of these ideas. Some might work beautifully and some might make a mess! Some might need to be placed in an inner "bag" to keep dust from seeping out. 

Are there any other ideas out there? What do you use?
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  1. I have used 7 (dryer lint)especially after drying some thrift store wool sweater pieces. Which brings up my version of 19 (fabric snips)--wool bits. I use recycled/felted wool from sweaters and skirts in my crazy quilting and applique. Any small stuff is saved for pincushion stuffing. Several of the things listed will draw bugs over time.

    Very cute Bee!!!

  2. I have no idea, Linda, as I have never made a pincushion. I have one from my grandmother; I don't know what she used, but it's very firm and stable. That sure is a cute bee!


  3. I use the crushed walnut shells and add a little dried lavender for a nice scent. I really like the weight and haven't had any trouble with it leaking through the seams. Your Miss Bumble is adorable :)

  4. I've used the plastic pellets, but they are expensive. I am very fond of the crushed walnut shells. Economical, easy to use, add a nice weight the to pincushion. My favorite so far.

  5. I have not been able to find the crushed walnut shells, but have been looking. They seem to be the stuffing of choice. I love the bee pattern, just darling!

  6. anticipation....I was all ready to see what YOU used!!!!!! The bee is about the cutest thing!!

    I just use poly fill...but i might try looking for the crushed walnut shells, they sound good. AND, I liked Stray Stitches idea for lavender...
    Have a nice week!! Kathy

  7. Thanks for blogging about this! I have a list of pincushions I want to make, but I have been held back by the stuffing -- I want the pincushion to stay in place! I am going to try the crushed walnut shells!

  8. Oh that little bee is too cute! I've never made a pincushion....thought about it, but never did it. After reading your list, I'm thinking about a combo of crushed walnut shells and wool roving!

  9. Very cute bee - I Love it!!
    I have only really used the hobbyfill stuff you get in a big bag from spotlight, maybe with a little bit of plastic pellets at the bottom for stability, though i don't actually use them (pincushions) myself. Here in Darwin we have so much humidity, you are better off keeping them stored in a container - and I just keep mine in the ones they come in.
    I am keen to try out those crushed walnut shells though - might be enough incentive to get me to make one up (then store it in a sealed container when not in use, lol.

  10. I've used quilt batting cut into small pieces but found tough spots where my needles wouldn't push in and I've tried fiberfill and like the feel for pushing pins. However, you're right, it does make for a too light pincushion. I think I'll try the crushed walnuts. Thanks for giving a source. Your bumble bee is so cute!

  11. Very cute bee! Interesting question that I've never thought of. I will be interested to see what you discover.

    Thank you for your comments on our Mailbox Moments blog!


  12. I love the little bee pin cushion! Didn't the old pin cushions (you know those 50's tomatoes?)have sawdust?

    I would be worried if you used anything edible you would end up with those little bugs and in a matter of time it will break down to a fine powder. I had to throw away a rather new package of rice yesterday because I found little black bugs crawling inside the bag. I am thinking the crushed walnut shells might be good though. I wonder what you could find in a good gardening store that might work.

  13. I too put in a vote for the crushed walnut shells. I will tell you that I recently won a kit for a pincushion from my LQS, and in the kit was a bag of crushed, crushed walnut shells. I'm not sure what they did, but it appears they hammered(?) the shells to grind them even finer. I'm not sure how helpful that is to you, but it worked great. It was a great weight!

  14. Cute pincushion Linda. I've used wool batting with a pocket of sand in the bottom to weight it down, crushed walnut shells. I really need to make a couple new ones for gifts. I have my patterns, just need to take a break to make them.

  15. It's nice to meet you....Your blog is so colorful and so full of great ideas....
    I'll definitely be back.....

  16. I tend to use a magnetic dish for my pins! One thought about crushed walnuts ... The user, or subsequent casual users, may be allergic to nuts; would the cushion need to have a warning on it? I don't know if the shell would produce the same reaction as the nuts?

  17. That is the CUTEST BEE-dazzled pin cushion!

    I've used for many years, fine grade aquarium sand in an inside muslin casing...then raw (clean) wool with lanolin around the edges. I put a bit of scented oil in the the wool too. this has always kept my pins sharp and slide-eee.


  18. Walnut shells may have to have a warning label - some allergic people do react to the shells. I don't recommend dried grass or anything that may mildew, mold or draw bugs (remember mideval times - straw bedding attracted the fleas-pleague) - and no drier lint!! highly flameable!

    I use the tiny plastic pellets (craft supplies) for stuffing toys - they make a nice weight - in a muslin bag and then fill in with mix of wool and fiber fill. I don't scent as a lot of people are sensitive.

  19. Thank you for this very informative post. I have been wondering what to use for these. I read somewhere about using rice, and a friend told me about using flax seed. One of these days, I will have to make one to try these things out.

  20. I use crushed walnut shells and can get them really inexpensively from a local pet store. I have also read about using white rice. That would add a nice weight as well.

  21. who knew there were so many ways to stuff a pincushion! very cute bee!!!

  22. What an adorable pincushion!
    I use wool roving...but then, I have a lot on hand from spinning. I like how it conforms to shapes and it is great for your needles and pins. You could add nut shells or something weighty to the bottom half and then fill it up with roving.

  23. I love your little pin cushion! Whoop whoop!!

  24. Thank you for your sweet comments you left me on my blog...oh how I adore your sweet pin cushion! Happy weekend to you. xoxo

  25. I've been wondering about this, too. I think I'll give the crushed walnut shells a try. Thanks for all the tips and your pin cushion is adorable!

  26. Great idea. I will be making these out of the left over jeans from throws

  27. Cute lunch bags. Sure beats using a plastic grocery bag. Thanks for the listing of ideas for pincushion stuffing. I have not made any pincushions but have a new pattern so I might have to try making one. Thanks for the giveaway.

  28. Well, looks like walnut shells wins so far. I've always wondered what the bst product would be??? I read that sand was a good choice.
    Love your cute pin cushions.
    Gmama Jane

  29. Have you seen the little strawberry that comes attached to the old tomato pincushions? It's filled with Emery. Like the emery board you use to file your nails. If you use that in a pincushion, it will sharpen your needles.

  30. Whatever you use to fill your pincushions, try adding 1 tsp. of silica gel ( available in the floral craft dept) It will keep the rust at bay all your pins will last longer.

  31. I use oven-dried white sesame seeds to fill my pin cushions. The seeds are not too fine and not too coarse, and provide a nice weight to the cushion.

  32. I use oven-dried white sesame seeds to fill my pin cushions. The seeds are not too fine and not too coarse, and provide a nice weight to the cushion.

  33. I wonder if I could use kitty. Liter?

  34. I wonder if I could use kitty. Liter?

  35. I've been pulverizing eggshells as a calcium supplement for my dogs, and have heard that putting egg shells in a blender sharpens the blades. I wonder if the pulverized eggshells would be suitable filling for a pincushion - they'd have a good weight, conform to whatever shape I wanted, no issues with humidity or bugs, and maybe even the same sharpening effect on the needles & pins as on blender blades.

    To prepare the shells for my dogs, I remove the membrane, bake at 250 for half an hour (to remove any pathogens and get them really dry), crush them by hand and then pulverize them with a mortar and pestle. It is time-consuming; any time I watch TV I have my mortar and pestle in-hand grinding away. That would be the major drawback - they're free but labor-intensive.

    1. I love this idea! I utilize egg shells too and I think this would be excellent.

  36. I just filled my new pincushion project with sawdust . . . worked great but hard to get in with a paper funnel. On second project, I created a plastic funnel -- used empty large hand cream plastic container, cut off the top leaving a 2 inch lip. I screwed the opening into my nearly completed "envelop." I used a barbecue stick to help push the sawdust into the cushion. The larger top of the plastic container made it easy to load with sawdust. The hole was large enough that my finger could push the sawdust into the corners and pack it hard. The cushion filled in 1/4th the time of my first one. I'd love to post pictures but don't see that option. Many thanks for keeping this blog!

  37. Just pinned your cupcake pincushion.

  38. Hi, I make lots of tapestry pincushions and I use the cushion filler , but I push it ti the outside of the pincushion and into the corners, then I use sawdust in the middle also packed really tight, so that the pincushion is packed , hard and stable. I then also use a few pieces of natural lambs wool, to prevent the pins going rusty, never had a problem with any thatvi have made.

  39. Hi, I make lots of tapestry pincushions and I use the cushion filler , but I push it ti the outside of the pincushion and into the corners, then I use sawdust in the middle also packed really tight, so that the pincushion is packed , hard and stable. I then also use a few pieces of natural lambs wool, to prevent the pins going rusty, never had a problem with any thatvi have made.

  40. Use a small rock with a flat bottom for the well. Gotta get these little bees they are beyond cuteness.

  41. Hasn't anyone used emery? That is usually what is in the little "strawberry" in the tomato pin cushions that you buy commercially. It can be purchased on Etsy. I have some but have not used it yet. Should provide a nice weight and keep pins sharp but it is pricey and I'll make rather small pin cushions with it. I love the little Bee pin cushion!!


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