Introduction: 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 . 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....

Step 1: Prepare the Fabric

Here is a list of the materials and tools needed:
muslin fabric, approximately 5"x5"
decorative fabric, approximately 5"x6"
matching thread
sewing needle
sewing machine

You can make your pincushion any size and shape. The finished pincushion I'll show you today measures 2 3/4" x 1 1/2".

You're going to make the pincushion out of muslin, then cover it with decorative fabric. I do that because I don't want the tiny emery particles to escape through seams and pinholes.

Fold the piece of muslin in half. The fold is now on the left sie. Draw your lines as shown below. The muslin rectangle should measure 1 1/2" x 2 3/4".

Fold the decorative fabric in half, right sides together. The fold is on the left side. Draw your lines as shown below. The decorative fabric rectangle should measure 1 3/4" x 3".

Extend the vertical lines that you drew by about 1/2" inch above the rectangle.

The solid lines are your sewing lines. The dashed lines are where you'll fold it later.

Step 2: Sew

Now you'll use your sewing machine to sew across the bottom and up the side on each piece of fabric. Be sure to sew all the way up to the top of the vertical line that you drew.

Don't sew on the dotted line.

I used red thread in the picture below. That is for demonstration purposes. You should use matching thread.

After sewing on the solid lines, trim to 1/4" or less along the bottoms and sides. Trim across the top, just above the top of the vertical sewing line.

Step 3: Turn

Now you turn each piece inside-right. You have two sacks now, each with one closed end and one opened end. The muslin tube is slightly smaller than the decorative one.

Step 4: Fill

Now you'll fill the muslin sack with emery. I use about 1/8 cup for pincushions this size. Fill it to just below the dashed line inside the sack.

Step 5: Sew

This is probably the trickiest step.

Use a straight pin to pinch together the top of the sack. Insert the pin as close to the emery as possible. It will help keep the emery in the sack while you're sewing.

Use the sewing machine to sew the sack closed. Go back and forth a couple of times to make sure the sack is closed securely.

Again, I used red thread in this picture so that you can see it. You should use matching thread.

Trim across the top, just above these sewing lines.

It's not very pretty at this point, but "function over form" is what we need for now.

Step 6: Finish It Up!

Fold the top down on the decorative sack. Fold it to the inside of the sack. You should fold it on the dashed line that you can see on the inside of the sack.

Insert your filled muslin sack.

With needle and matching thread, sew it closed. Use a blind stitch so that your stitches will be virtually invisible.

That's it! You're done!

Now jab all of your pins and needles into that baby. You'll never have dulls pins again!