Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Pin Cushion

You have the dress, the petticoats, the underwear, the hats, the gloves, the muff, the fan, the shoes, the stockings, the this, the that, etc etc. But there are lots of little known accessories that get overlooked when creating costumes. One of these, that I have been looking into recently, is the pin ball. A pin ball is a type of pin cushion ladies used to wear on their person, hanging from a chatelain or ribbon of some kind. Often these were embroidered and given as gifts. Below are two examples of different ways of sewing these pin balls. 
The top picture is from the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. It shows a very simple construction, where the decorative fabric, a brocade, is mounted on a band of satin, with a satin back. It has a loop at the top for hanging. The picture below is from eBay. This embroidered pin ball is mounted on a silver ring frame and chain. I am told, replica rings can be ordered from the Mary Dickenson Shop in Williamsburg, though I have not contacted them myself. 

18th century, American, MFA

Late 18th century, American or English, eBay

I chose to sew one using the same construction as the pin ball from Boston. I embroidered two circles, one with a cartouche of initials, and then sewed a ribbon around the edges to close the piece.  At the top, it has a cord loop. It is filled with fiberfill. I haven't come across anything that shows what the original pin balls were stuffed with. I suppose you could fill it with something else, like lavender, if you wanted, as lavender was used throughout history in sachets as an insect repellant. And it smells nice too.

**Update, 9-23-11: I don't know how I missed this before but the pin ball from the MFA is stuffed with wool. 

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