Finger Pincushion; smallest item, biggest seller

Finger Pincushion; smallest item, biggest seller

Finger Pincushion 1

   My husband and I create literally OODLES of pincushions, selling to quilt shops across the U.S. We have our own wholesale website and work with another distributor as well. In addition, we sell them in our crafty Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/OodlesOfWhimsy) and at the local Farmer’s Market. We offer a variety of shapes and sizes in every color of the rainbow :) Without a doubt, our smallest item is definitely our biggest seller !
So what is a Finger Pincushion ? And what’s the big deal about it ? Well, it’s a mini pincushion that you wear on your finger or thumb while hand sewing. It’s tiny and portable; doesn’t take up much room so you can tuck one in your travel sewing kit, car glove box, purse or overnight bag. You can keep one stashed in your office drawer for those little emergencies like repairing a sagging hem or replacing a popped-off button. You can hem curtains while they are hanging and this little pincushion moves along with you so you aren’t tempted to stick a pin or needle in a nearby chair cushion or (heaven forbid~) in your mouth. When the phone or doorbell rings, your pincushion stays safely with you keeping pets and toddlers away from pointy pins and needles while your attention is elsewhere.

  Let’s look at one Finger Pincushion up close…..

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  A Finger Pincushion measures about 1″ across. The top cushion is made from 100% cotton fabric. The cushion is plumply stuffed with bounce-back stuffing (~that’s my own name for it; some brands are rather flat and mash down easily. We only use the one brand that feels sufficient enough.). The base is a sturdy wood piece that we coat with a nice finish. My husband is a furniture re-finisher and is picky about how wood is stained, sealed and protected :) We use stretchy yet soft elastic for your finger’s comfort. It took us a great deal of time to resource our supplies and perfect the process. Each Finger Pincushion is made by hand, one at a time.

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   We search diligently to find prints that are nicely size proportioned. It’s really hard sometimes ! Next time you’re at the fabric store, take a look at the smallest prints you can find. Try this test: make a circle with the thumb and pointy finger on one hand, touching the tips. Now slide the finger’s tip from the thumb’s tip down to the thumb’s first knuckle, decreasing the size of the circle. This final circle is the area of the cushion-top of a finger pincushion and is just about all that the user sees when it’s worn. Any fabric print we choose must fit nicely into this limited area.

***Reader Challenge: We are always on the lookout for new fabrics that meet the above criteria. Searching in person is best as online photos don’t always show true to size or display pattern repeat measurements. If you happen to find a proportionate-appropriate fabric to suggest to us, we would appreciate a website link to the shop or info on where it is located (offer for U.S. only). Should your suggestion become one of our new fabrics, we will send you a free Finger Pincushion as a ‘Thank You’ for your great detective work !

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  Take a close look at the tiny prints we have used. We also work to match the elastic bands to these prints so the whole item is pleasing to look at. The bands are made in different sizes so folks can pick out the perfect fit for their finger or thumb. Those who buy for gifting usually purchase one that fits their own ‘ring finger’. The recipient can use it on most any finger. Most of them fit ring sizes 6-10.

   How did we get started doing this ?  We live in an area of the Midwest that is full of quilters. When I was attending our church sewing bee, I observed ladies wearing pincushion rings someone had made using 1/4″ flat elastic, a plastic soda cap and a ball of yarn, padded felt or fabric cushion. I liked the basic concept of a miniature pincushion and set out to tweak the materials and sizing to something I was comfortable using. I gave some to friends and word got around. I was invited to sell crafts at a local school bazaar and took along some of these little creations. We sold a few items but nothing earth-shattering until… the manager of a local quilt shop stopped to chat. She bought a couple items and then asked me if I would be interested in making these Finger Pincushions for her shop to sell. And that’s how it started, about 15 years ago, in just one shop.

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    And today ? Well, pictured above is a group of 100 Finger Pincushions (along with my hand). Last week we received our largest single order for them; the gentleman wants 2,000. Yes, two-thousand ! The day we received the request, my wonderful hubby read the email first. He came over to me and gently hugged me.
“How are you feeling ?”, he asked.
~You see, we recently went through a month of medical insanity. There were odd symptoms, doctor visits, 3 or 4 trips (I lost count; it’s pretty much a blur) to the ER for pain and nausea management due to a reluctant kidney stone. In the midst of that drama, I had scheduled surgery for gallbladder removal which happened when we thought (wrongly) that the kidney stone had passed. Surprise~ 6 days after gallbladder surgery I was back in ER with more kidney stone pain :(  About a week later they decided we’d been through enough and did surgery to remove the stuck stone. So when this wonderful order came in, hubby Rick was excited to share it with me yet understandably hesitant to accept it if we weren’t physically able to handle the work. I still have another medical issue to address (a biopsy procedure is tomorrow, actually !)
We decided to take the plunge and accept the order. So far, it’s going rather well and in one week we have already completed over 800 pieces ! Nearly halfway there and still a few weeks before the deadline (yipee!). Sometimes it’s those little things in life that add up to be your biggest triumphs :)
How did we reach this goal ? How did we make this product succeed ? Well, this much I know; steady, consistent quality and prompt customer service is required. Details count. So does good, old fashioned hard work. Sometimes it is so slow-going that very little progress is obvious. However, remember the story of the tortoise and the hare ?
I wish you happy crafting !

~Cheri

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