Pincushions come in all shapes and sizes, but the tomato is the design that remains iconic. We’ve often wondered, out of all the shapes, why a tomato?
According to folklore, placing a tomato on the mantel of a new home ensured prosperity and good health by warding off evil spirits. As tomatoes are seasonal, the good-luck symbol was frequently created from fabric and filled with sawdust or wool.
During the Tudor Era it became common practice to use fancy, stuffed shapes to showcase one’s collections of pins and needles. Eventually, the stuffed, decorative tomatoes were used as pin cushions. The strawberry tassel attached to the pin cushion was filled with emery and served to clean and sharpen needles and pins.
The tomato was further popularized in the Victorian Era. Victorian ladies took an immense pride in their parlor rooms, displaying collections of pin cushions in various shapes, and taking pride in their number and variety. The tomato was always the crown jewel of her collection. Since then, we’ve been piercing our pins into stuffed fabric tomatoes.
Do you have a tomato pincushion? Maybe you made one in Home Ec Class? Did your mother or grandmother have one? Share your pincushion memories with us in the comments!