History of WW1 Pincushions

There has been surprisingly little written about these exquisite gems of emotion.  (If you have any information which you think participants would be interested to read, please message me through the 'Contact' page and I will be very happy to add links or pages/photographs to this website.)


Layette pin stuck pincushions, made from c.1650, were the forerunners of the military pincushions.  The first soldier’s pincushion dates to just after the Crimean War 1855/6. They continued to be made through the two Boer Wars and The Great War 1914/18.


· During WW1 thousands of commercially produced kits were made and distributed to soldiers and civilians.

· Mass production created a stereotype design and size. Hearts were pre-stuffed ready to be decorated.

· The kits were contained within a template-cut cardboard box, which was ideal to hold collected fabrics, beads, pins and sequins.

· The kit also included a piece of fabric, ready to cut, to form the geometric design at the centre of the pincushion.

· The therapeutic effect a wounded soldier gained by making and sending one of these sawdust hearts was immense, and indeed the practice of Occupational Therapy in the UK can be traced back to this time in history.



Untangled Threads has replicated the manufacture and production of the WW1 Sawdust Heart Pincushion Kits, as closely as possible. All 1,568 hearts have been made and stuffed by hand and an identifying number has been printed onto the back of each heart. The hearts have been packaged, again by hand, together with pins and instructions for their completion.


WW1 pincushions were decorated with recycled fabrics, trimmings and beads (whatever was available).  Charity shops are perfect hunting grounds for everything you need for this project. Look at clothing, soft furnishings, jewellery, ribbons, buttons, threads etc to find suitable additions for your Sawdust Heart.