Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The Search for Just the Right Stuffing
Whenever I have made pincushions in the past, I have always just used polyfil to stuff them, and it has worked out fine. But for these new tetrahedron shaped pincusions that I have been making, I wanted to use something different, and I had two goals in mind...
I wanted the material to be natural, keeping with the whole idea of rural retro living, and I also wanted the stuffing to give some weight and firmness to the pincushion, similar to the feel of those old-fashioned tomato pincushions most of us have had at one time or another.
I know that traditionally often either sawdust, sand or metal shavings were used to fill pincushions. The weight of the filling helped keep small size pincushions from moving around when inserting and pulling out the pins, and they also helped to keep the pins sharp.
Now, I have no idea where to get metal shavings and saw dust seems just plain messy to me. Sand is easy enough to come by, but it's so... well I don't know, sticky? Invasive? It just seems that if you spill some, you are sweeping it up it for days!
After I did a bit of research on the internet though, I discovered another option... pulverized english walnut shells! Have you heard of this before? I didn't know such a product even existed. From what I read this is a favorite pincushion stuffing for a lot of sewers and the tiny grains help to keep the pins sharp.(Just one word of caution... this product should not be used by folks who have nut allergies, especially walnut allergies).
Now, where do you find pulverized walnut shells? The pet store of course! It seems to be used for both bird and reptile, (in exactly what way I am not completely sure, floor and bedding I think). I found a 5.5 lb bag in the reptile section for under $8.00. Plenty enough to stuff lots of pincushions!
It's kind of pretty, isn't it? You can see in this photo that it is really ground up very well. The grains are tiny, much like sand, but not as sticky. (I spilled some and had no trouble quickly sweeping it up, and the grains never stuck to my skin as sand does).
I was worried that getting the tiny bits of walnut shell inside the opening of the pincushion would be a challenge, but all I had to do was pour some in a paper cup, pinch the edge of the cup, and pour right in. The shells packed down nicely and in no time at all I had a nice solid feeling pincushion.
It even makes for a super-duper paperweight!
Update on this post: I now have a fully illustrated, easy to follow pattern for this pincushion available in my shop. You can find the pattern here if interested!