Picture of Emery Pincushion - Keeps pins and needles sharp - Sew Useful Entry
Are you familiar with the little strawberry that comes along with the famous tomato pincushion? Do you know the purpose of that strawberry? It's an emery pincushion. Its purpose is to sharpen your pins and needles. It is filled with a mineral called "emery". Emery resembles fine metal shavings. It is used as an abrasive in industrial applications and also on many useful household items such as emery boards.

Well, that little strawberry pincushion just wasn't suiting my needs. I needed something larger, something that could sit on its own on my table. I searched high and low for a larger emery pincushion with no luck, so I decided to make my own.

The result? Here it is. This pincushion is small, as far as pincushions go, but large for an emery pincushion.

I'm offering these emery pincushions for sale and entering them into the Sew Useful contest because I feel they are so practical and they're just not available. They serve a great function for anyone that sews. There's just nothing else out there. I saw a need for something, both for myself and for others, and I've fulfilled that need. I saw a gap in what's available in the commercial sewing world, and I believe I've filled that gap with something handmade. What's better?

You can find my etsy listing for the contest at

That listing isn't for sale until after the judging on June 18th. If you'd like to purchase a finished pincushion or the loose emery, you can visit my shop at http://dottyral.etsy.com . They're both available there.

You may re-create this pincushion for your own personal use. You may not sell pincushions made using my pattern.

Ok, on to the instructions....
Allan Wells5 years ago
Thanks very much for this instructable. The sewing was easy but I couldn't obtain any emery powder locally so used fine cut sand instead-works a treat ! Apparently any medium to fine grade abrasive with a hardness of 5 or above will do eg aluminium oxide, carborundum, garnett, quartzite, sand (silica) and even crushed glass or glass beads. Emery has a moh hardness of 7 to 9.

scrub sponge works too. It is not as heavy, but is cheap, easy available and can be cut in many shapes.

dottyral (author)  Allan Wells3 years ago
I can't speak of any of those others, but emery works wonderfully. I sell it in my etsy shop (link in the instructions).
so sweet! thank you!
firefly683 years ago
dottyral, I am very impressed with the cushions in your shop. Who knew the humble pincushion could be so gorgeous?!
dottyral (author)  firefly683 years ago
So kind of you! Thank you! :)
mybb6 years ago
dental supplyindustrial supplyHere is an industrial supply co that has bulk emery

And here is dental supply company that has emery in smaller amounts.

I hope this helps
dottyral (author)  mybb6 years ago
Thank you mybb. The emery from your dental supply company doesn't give any specifics about the emery. I'd be very careful with emery from the other site too. There are so many grades of emery and not all of them are well suited for pincushions. Too fine or too coarse doesn't work well for our purposes. After many years, I've found that the emery that I purchase is the most suitable for pincushions.
ldesimon6 years ago
I didn't know those pincushions contained emery. Where can you purchase emery?
dottyral (author)  ldesimon6 years ago
Hi there. I purchase emery in bulk from an industrial supply company. I sell it in my shop at http://dottyral.etsy.com in smaller quantities for pincushion making.
UltraMagnus7 years ago
what sort of place sells emery powder? i am in the UK so don't want to order from the states
dottyral (author)  UltraMagnus7 years ago
Qwerty, that's pretty funny. I hadn't heard that one. :) UltraMagnus. Sorry. I don't know of a supplier in the UK. I do ship to the UK if you'd like to have a look at my shipping costs. dottyral.etsy.com
qwerty902107 years ago
I always thought it was a pepper that came with the tomato
ryzellon8 years ago
Here's a mock-up of an emery-wristlet
I think the photos are pretty self explanatory, though the crudeness might be a bit confusing. (Sorry, I had to improvise on materials.)
If Dottyral, or someone who's pretty adept wants to make this, you're welcome to write up an authoritative account. These steps are really vague and aren't going to be very helpful to someone very new to sewing.
(I hope the images will be accessible in full size...)

Here's what's going on in the photos:
Pouch of tiny metal rings == Pouch of emery
Green lens cloth == Foam block/pouch of packed poly-fill
Blue card == Scrap of stiff plastic (ex-credit card, etc)
Pink/peach tissue == Decorative outer cloth

Vague steps:
- Make a little emery pouch
- Make a foam block about the size of the emery pouch
- Cut a bit of credit card so that it's a little larger than foam/pouch
- Cut decorative cloth so it'll go around your wrist in one dimension, and around the stack of emery/foam/plastic in the other.
- Make sure stack and cloth will fit snugly, sew cloth shut on long side + one short side
- Stuff stack into center of pouch, sew on either side to hold
- Close final side of pouch
- Add velcro

Possible variations:
- Try tapering the long pouch at either end: it'll make the wristlet less cuff-like and give the velcro some reinforcement to hang on to.
- Put a broad swatch of velcro on one side to make the wristlet adjustable
01 Emery.jpg02 Emery.jpg03 Emery.jpg
dottyral (author)  ryzellon8 years ago
Great job ryzellon!!!
woodknot8 years ago
Domi Arigato Gazai Masu! (Thank you very much!!!) I can't wait to make one. I have a pincushion that is similar with elastic to go around the wrist, but probably contains sawdust. Would you suggest I make one with emery in it for my wrist?
dottyral (author)  woodknot8 years ago
Hi Woodknot, well I would suggest making one with emery. I know that people used to fill pincushions with sawdust to weigh them down and maybe to sharpen the pins, but I would guess that emery does a better job. People often fill pincushions with a combination of emery and wool. The lanolin in the wool conditions the needles. Since emery is rather heavy, if you want to make one for your wrist, I would probably add some wool or polyfil. Then it wouldn't be quite as heavy and wouldn't spin around on your wrist. Making emery pincushions for the wrist has been on my 'to do' list for a while now. Hopefully I'll get to it someday! Good luck!
VanessaEtsy8 years ago
dottyral, you rule! I love this idea.
dottyral (author)  VanessaEtsy8 years ago
Awww. Thanks Vanessa! That's so nice!
dottyral (author) 8 years ago
Terrific bethwalk and thanks!
bethwalk8 years ago
Fabulous tutorial! I'm new to sewing, and I'm really grateful for good instructions--and these are good. Glad you are entering this project into the etsy contest--
dottyral (author) 8 years ago
Thanks Craftchi!
craftchi8 years ago
Great tutorial. Images make it very clear. Thanks!
dottyral (author) 8 years ago
Thanks glassartist!!
glassartist8 years ago
Great instructable!
dottyral (author) 8 years ago
Thanks unjust! Yes, there are different grades of emery. I don't know much about the industrial stuff. I sell the perfect emery for pincushions in my etsy shop. http://dottyral.etsy.com
unjust8 years ago
great little instructable. as a reasonably adept sticher i was never aware of emery pincushions and always wondered why the lil cushion was so tiny. where does one aquire a cup of emery bits? does it come in various grades and if so what grade is appropriate?
dottyral (author) 8 years ago
Oh, thank you mje!
mje8 years ago
Excellent instructable! Great illustrations and descriptions.
dottyral (author) 8 years ago
Please let me know what you think of my instructable. Was it clear and easy to understand? Thanks!