Somewhere, at some time, I lost my pincushion. I’ve been keeping my pins in a little white jewelry box. Which is fine, sometimes…but every now and then my cat will visit my sewing table and oh-so-helpfully send them flying to the floor, or once or twice I may have brought the box over to the rickity ironing board where I was pressing a seam, and done the same thing, myself. So the other day, as I was picking straight pins out of the carpet for the second time that day, it occurred to me that most people don’t have this problem, because most people keep their pins in a pin-cushion. (Sometimes, I admit, my learning curve for life lessons is a little less sharp than it might be.)
Then, my impulse solution was to run by the local dollar store and just buy a pin-cushion–everyone has the red tomato kind, perhaps even my local drugstore. But where’s the fun in that? I asked myself “Isn’t this project about making things for yourself instead of running out and buying the closest ready-made?”
A pincushion, after all, is just a little pillow of fabric to stick pins into. I could use any old scraps. But just a plain pillow (or tomato-shape) didn’t seem exciting enough. I looked up patterns online, and discovered that there are roughly 19,500 patterns for pincushions, and about half of those are cupcakes. Adorable! But my fabric scraps weren’t saying “cupcake”, exactly, and then I realized another thing: I don’t need any new patterns, I have tons of those, already, too.
And that’s when I remembered my friend Sue Haven’s book, Make Your Own Toys. I’ve been meaning to try out those patterns for a long time, maybe I could find a sort of squat, square choice, and make it up, and use that as a pincushion. How much more charming would that be, on my work table, to look over and see a happy scrap animal than just a plain red tomato, or even a charming cupcake?
So that was what started the Pincushion Pig:
Pincushion Pig is an adaptation, I took the deer/poodle body and added the snout, ears, and tail from the pig pattern. And in typical haphazard fashion, I was unable to find my supply of pipecleaners in my stash of craft items, so instead of a twirly pig-tail, this piggy’s tail sticks straight out behind. (I felt it would be better to have a straight stick-tail than no tail at all.)
I weighted her legs and bottom with dried beans so that she’ll sit upright, and also so if my cat (or my elbow) sends her tumbling to the floor, she’ll likely land right side up. This was a fun little project to sew, and I was glad to have a chance to actually make something from this book. Pincushion Pig might be a bit overcomplicated, as pincushions go, but it gave me trial run for toy patterns, and now I might just make a few more of these in various sizes for some of the children I know. The tail, after all, reminds me of a mouse, and I think it would be very easy to take the same basic pattern and turn it into a mouse…or a whole family of them, perhaps.
Pincushion Pig does work very well as a pincushion, as well…but the photographs of her with pins sticking out of her back all akimbo seemed somehow brutal and inappropriate for the internet. You’re just going to have to take my word for that.
Sue Haven’s website is here, if you’re looking for more crafty toy inspiration. I’d also recommend this completely adorable video on how to make your own Patchwork Flat Bear–also good if you’re just trying toymaking for the first time.