Sewing tips, Sewing tutorial

Emery Pin Cushion

My pin cushions are filled with batting. In my previous post (Common Sewing Tools2) I mentioned that I’ve noticed that some of my pins are dull. I’ve heard that an emery-filled pin cushion keeps pins sharp. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.) I ordered a package of “Yarn Tree 4333 Sewing White Emery for Pincushions-4 Ounces” so that I could upgrade one of my pin cushions to an emery filled one.

The Yarn Tree brand of “Emery For Pin Cushions” is pure aluminum oxide. It’s packaged inside a small plastic bag which is inside a larger plastic bag with some instructions and information about the history of emery. The instructions state that we need to create a small sack to hold the emery and then that sack and batting are used to fill the pin cushion. While this emery is non-toxic, care should be taken to wash your hands after handling it.

Yarn Tree Emery for pin cushions (Sewn By Tanya sewing tip)
Yarn Tree Emery for pin cushions

Since the emery was packaged in a small plastic bag, I was able to wrap the plastic bag in some fabric and estimate how much fabric would be needed to hold all of the emery. I estimated that a rectangular slip of fabric 3” by 7.5” (folded in half and sewn with a 1/4” seam allowance) would make a pouch large enough to hold all 4 ounces of the emery.

Emery inside inner plastic bag  (Sewn By Tanya sewing tip)
Emery inside inner plastic bag
Make emery pouch

My favourite pin cushion is 2.5” wide by 2.25” deep by 2” thick. My goal with this project was to add an emery filled pouch to it. The pouch formed by the 3” by 7.5” fabric strip ended up being a little bit too long to fit in this pin cushion. I trimmed the ends of the fabric strip until it was just right. The final size of the strip was 3” by 6.5”.

Fold the strip in half lengthwise to make a 3 “ by 3.25” rectangle. Pin along the raw edges and sew with a 1/4” seam allowance, leaving a 1.25” gap along the top edge. I used the shortest straight stitch my sewing machine has in order to minimize the likelihood of emery escaping between the stitches.

Emery pouch with pins marking the opening.  (Sewn By Tanya sewing tip)
Emery pouch with pins marking the opening.

Clip the corners and press the hem.

Emery pouch with corners clipped and opening pressed (Sewn By Tanya sewing tip)
Emery pouch with corners clipped and opening pressed

Turn the emery sack right-side out and use a funnel to fill it with emery. I did this step in my kitchen to make it easier to clean up any spilled emery. Filling the pouch over a sheet of computer paper also helps to recapture any spilled emery. I placed the emery pouch in a small container that I could tap on the counter and settle the emery into the pouch. I was able get most of the emery into the pouch. It was getting on my hands when I was pinching the top closed to sew it, so I took a little bit of the emery out.

Emery pouch with funnel for filling with emery  (Sewn By Tanya sewing tip)
Filling the emery pouch

Hand stitch the opening using the ladder stitch. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly to avoid spreading lost emery around. When the opening was sewn halfway shut, I was able to add a little more of the leftover emery into the pouch.

Here’s a photo of the emery pouch beside the pin cushion.

Filled emery pouch and a batting filled pin cushion  (Sewn By Tanya sewing tip)
Emery pouch beside batting-filled pin cushion
Empty pin cushion

Remove the all the pins from the pin cushion. Open the side seam and carefully remove the batting. When I was removing the batting, I discovered three hand sewing needles that had slipped all the way inside my pin cushion. (I usually keep my sewing needles in a 2.5” square by 1” thick pin cushion to avoid this exact problem). The button and red decorating embroidery floss were sewn all the way through the centre of my pin cushion so I had to remove them in order to remove all of the batting.

Fill pin cushion

Once the pin cushion is empty, carefully insert the emery pouch through the opening you used to remove the batting.

Replace as much of the original batting as you can. I put a small piece of the original batting at the top of the pin cushion to help fill out the original shape. I placed the rest of the batting below the emery pouch.

Pin cusion with exposed batting  (Sewn By Tanya sewing tip - emery filled pin cushion)
Replacing the batting

Sewing the opening closed using the ladder stitch. Replace decorations and embellishments.

Here’s a photo of my completed pin cushion. It’s a little over-stuffed in the top left corner, but squeezing is has helped to shift the batting around and re-square the top.

Pin cushion containing emery pouch and batting  (Sewn By Tanya sewing tip - emery filled pin cushion)

The embroidery floss on the batting filled version of this pin cushion was sewn through the centre of the pin cushion. This pulled in the sides slightly and helped the pin cushion to sit flat. When I attempted to sew the embroidery floss on the emery filled version of the pin cushion, the 3” long upholstery needle and embroidery floss were pulling the emery right out of the emery pouch and pin cushion. Rather than sewing the embroidery floss through the pin cushion, it’s only sewn to the exterior. This means the emery filled version doesn’t sit as flat. The new pin cushion is noticeably heavier due to the addition of nearly 4 ounces of emery. I’m hoping the added weight will compensate for the slightly rounded bottom.

If you are planning to add emery to an existing pin cushion, you may follow the above steps. Of course you’ll have the adjust the shape and size of your emery pouch to best fit your pin cushion.

If you are making an emery pin cushion from scratch, you may find this Vicky Myers Creations post (how to make an emery pincushion) helpful. It’s what inspired me to add emery filling to an existing pin cushion.

Only time will tell if the emery filling really helps keep pins sharp. I’ll looking forward to finding out. Do you use an emery filled pin cushion or have any tips and tricks for keeping your pins sharp?


Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tip: Emery Filled Pin Cushion
Sewn By Tanya Sewing Tip: Emery Filled Pin Cushion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.