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Pin cushion

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1670-1680 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Edlin, Martha, born 1660 - died 1725 (embroiderer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered in silk thread , backed with plain woven silk

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Art Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 6

Object Type
This pin cushion was among the contents of an embroidered casket used by a young girl, Martha Edlin, to store her small personal possessions. She would have embroidered it herself. It does not appear to have been used. It is worked in flame stitch, a technique also sometimes known as Irish stitch, Hungarian stitch, florentine stitch and bargello stitch, the variety of names indicating the uncertainty of its origins.

Martha Edlin (1660-1725) worked a series of embroideries during her childhood, including this jewellery case, which were cherished by her descendants and passed down through the female line in her family for over 300 years. We know little about her life, except that she married a man called Richard Richmond and appears to have been a prosperous widow living in Pinner in Greater London at the time she drew up her will, with daughters and grandchildren.

Materials & Making
Following the usual development of needlework skills in a young educated girl in the mid-17th century, Martha Edlin embroidered a sampler in coloured silks at the age of eight, and a more complicated piece in whitework and cutwork at nine. By 1671, her eleventh year, she had embroidered the panels of an elaborate casket, and two years later this beadwork jewellery case. The needlework skills she demonstrated in these pieces would be important attributes in her adulthood, in the management of her household and the making, mending and decoration of her own and her family's clothes.

Physical description

Pin cushion, rectangular in shape. The front is embroidered in shades of blue and pink silk in flame stitch, and the back is covered in pink plain woven silk. Edged with a plaited cord of pink silk and silver thread.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1670-1680 (made)


Edlin, Martha, born 1660 - died 1725 (embroiderer)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered in silk thread , backed with plain woven silk


Length: 7.5 cm, Width: 6.3 cm

Object history note

Purchased. Registered File number 1989/1572.

Descriptive line

Embroidered silk pin cushion, made by Martha Edlin, England, 1670-1680

Labels and date

British Galleries:

The small scale of each piece is further evidence of Martha's sewing skills. She used different stitches and techniques, like the flame stitching on the small pincushion and plaiting on the cords of the purse. [27/03/2003]


Silk (textile); Silk thread; Silver thread




Embroidery; British Galleries; Needlework accessories; Textiles


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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