Wednesday, March 7, 2012

~*What do you fill with?*~

Hello Dear Friends! It seems I've been a bit quiet here lately. There has been a lot of crafty work going on behind the scenes (so to speak)... but it can't be shared just yet. So... since it seemed past time to post... and I was struggling to come up with something to talk about... this subject dawned on me...

What do you fill with? Your pinkeeps, your pillows, your dolls... your crafty goodies?

Maybe you will find this information useful and want to try something a little different.

Here are many I've used. Some I like more than others... but only one I really dislike (but will use it if the need arises and I must use it)...

this is collected after my husband's woodworking task is complete... or from friends that are kind enough to share it with me when they have a pile or two. Use a small scoop to fill the sawdust into the opening. Then, I 'thump' it down by tapping it on the table to get it to 'settle'. Fill it slowly and be patient as you work. One thing you might want to consider when using it... the weave of your fabric. If your fabric has an open weave, you may want to use add some fusible webbing to the backside to keep the sawdust from leaking out.

***I'm editing my post to add... I use a small scoop to drop the sawdust into my pillow opening slowly. It does get messy, but with patience and perseverance it will work. ***

Play sand or sand you can find in the craft store may be 'better' because it is cleaner... but this ol' sand works well too. I will suggest though... BAKE it in the oven for a short time to kill any critters that may be calling it home. Simply put it in a narrow dish & bake it at 350 degrees for an hour or so. This will give you a good 'heavy' fill when used. It is also good to keep your pins & needles sharp.

Oh it just smells so pretty! Other dried flowers & herbs will work too! Just make sure that your drieds are good and dry... to prevent mold & mildew.

From the pet store... bedding used for your pet hamster. It isn't as fine as sawdust, but it works too. This will be 'cleaner' than sawdust.


Also from the pet store... crushed walnut shells. These are just WONDERFUL (yes, one of my favorites!)... and inexpensive too. Filling with them gives a good 'heavy' feel. It is also good to use to keep your pins & needles sharp. Some of my friends have made a blend using the walnut shells and the dried lavender.

Several years ago, I purchased a LARGE box from an online friend. She washed it & shipped it to me. It has a nice, plump feel when used and is great for your pins & needles... because the lanolin in the wool lubricates them. To use it, cut it into 'chunks' before you fill your pinkeep. It makes the task easier.

To re~purpose, re~cycle, or up~cycle... whatever you prefer to call it... these next two are GREAT for that!

These are the small pieces or un~usable strips leftover from my rug hooking projects. I save them in gallon size plastic bags until I have a pinkeep or pillow to pop them into. They give a great LUMPY sort of look when used. And because they are wool, they too are good for your pins & needles.

These happen to be strips from an old sheet that was 'too worn out to use' any longer. Rather than throw it away, I washed it one more final time... then began ripping it into 1/2 to 1 inch wide pieces. I'll cut these into shorter lengths later (18 inches or so)... and use them to fill pillows or dolls. They too give a great LUMPY look. They also have a good heavy feel. You can also use scrap pieces of fabric used for your doll bodies. I try to throw very little away in my studio!

Lastly, there is this. Yes, it is the one that I like least of all. It will work for filling dolls and pillows... but I would suggest you NOT use it for your pinkeeps. The synthetic material will dull your pins & needles. Plus, in the 'olden days' they didn't use this product... they would have used one of the items listed above. You know me... I like to keep it olde!

Well, that about wraps it up. Those are the items I have used. I hope you found this information useful.

Wishing you warm smiles...



  1. This very topic has been on my mind lately. I've stitched up a bunch of tops to make into pin keeps. I plan on using all of the above except the pine shavings and poly fill. I find the pine shavings to be lumpy, but in a crunchy sort of way. And I was always told synthetics will dull pins and needles so to keep it natural. I bought very fine sand at the craft store because I read somewhere that the larger grained play sand might actually be too coarse and "nick" the needles. I don't know if anyone else has had that problem. I'm afraid to use fusible webbing with the saw dust and sand though due to the same "dulling" issue as the poly? I am not sure if it is safe for the pins? I was going to line the needlework with muslim or cotton batting instead, but it would be easier to use the webbing. I've also only just recently heard of using the walnut shells. I have only read very positives on them, so can't wait to try them out for the first time.
    Absolutely love your blog Betty (and designs:))
    Debbie P

  2. I love using the walnut shells and sawdust, but my problem is actually getting the sawdust into the pinkeep! I end up making the hugest mess. How is the easiest way to fill with sawdust? I've tried funnels, but the funnel ends up being too narrow and the sawdust gets "stuck". I've tried rolling up a piece of paper to make a bigger "funnel", but end up covered with sawdust myself.

  3. This was so helpful !!!! I have used saw dust & it is messy & gets stuck in my funnel too. I didn't know the lavender could get funky...after all that work ! I was afraid to try sand, it can filter thru some of the linen or other fabrics I use. Sometimes the polyfil can show thru the weave of the fabric & I hate to see that pure white in the background. Now I want to hit the Pet Store & get those crushed walnut sheels !!! Thank You So Much !!!! I also want to give the wool scraps & torn fabric !!!

  4. Thanks for all the info Betty I've been wanting to try the crushed walnut shells but I had no idea where to find them. I'll be heading to our local pet store tomorrow. :0)

  5. So glad you did this post. I have used fine sawdust to fill some pinkeeps for myself. I used a funnel & it would clog & was a mess. I wanted to make more but did not know what others used. I thought about asking in a post but thought it might be asking to much. Maybe the crafters secret I was afraid. So I am tickled you gave all this information. I keep every scrap of fabric & old sheets right down to my thread clippings when sewing. I use all this & old clothing to stuff my dolls. Blessings!

  6. THANX BETTY! i found your post very informative. i like to recycle as much as i can even coffee grounds and egg shells for in the garden. soon the birds will be nesting so we can throw out our scrapes of threads ect.. enjoy your day!

  7. I've been wondering what to use to fill some pin keeps I made during the holidays. Now I know. I actually need to keep this post to refer to in the future! Thanks!

  8. Great tips!! I agree with your views on using polyfil and for keeping it old and traditional. I've used the crushed walnut shells and absolultely love how is works and looks.

    Great blog! Thank you.

  9. What a wonderful post Betty. I really enjoyed reading it a lot and feel the same way about that dreadful polyfil :)

  10. Hey Betty....Good question and I love your explanations and other stitches comments...I am nearly a strictly crushed walnut shells lady. I love the weight. Rarely I will use polyfill in an ornament that the walnut shells just wouldn't work in.... I have never tried the sawdust and doubt I will....but, I may "cook" me up some sand and give that a try~~ We live in the Sandhills of North Carolina, surrounded by golf courses etc..... I would be a nice substitute to visiting PetSmart like I have to do!!

    Great question....keep 'em coming!! Take care,


  11. Great post, I have used some of the things you mentioned and wondered about the other things. Thanks so much for sharing, I'm going to print it out and save it. I enjoy your blog!

  12. Hi, Here's a thought...when using sawdust maybe you could use a plastic soda bottle as a funnel. Just cut the bottom off. The mouth(top of the bottle) would be larger than a funnel and maybe less of a chance of getting clogged. Just a thought here. Hugs Mary

  13. I like the feel of snippets in pin keeps, but I usually use fiber fill, since it is easier and weighs less for shipping;)


  14. Thanks so much for this info. I'm getting ready to finish a few pinkeeps and this is super useful. Love your blog and designs!


  15. Hi Betty, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  16. You always have such wonderful suggestions girl. Another great article. I did put your link onto my blog to share with others. Thanks Betty.

  17. Hi Betty!

    Thanks for this post! I was planning on stitching up some pin keeps and never gave it a thought about what to fill it with other than Poly-fil! I didn't realize it could dull my needles. I have crushed walnut shells for another project and didn't think about putting it in my pin keeps as well.

    I love the work you do! It's all so nice!


  18. I don't think I've ever tried the crushed walnut shells. Thanks for the tips!

  19. The crushed walnut shells sounds really neat. Love your blog!

  20. Excelsior otherwise called wood wool works well. It is most commonly used for packaging but is a nice alternative to sawdust. It was used as a stuffing for Teddy bears.

  21. I love using the crushed walnut shells and saw dust myself. I do also want to try the Excelsior, I recently just a felt a pinkeep with that used and oh loved the feel of it. Betty you are always so sweet to share with all, thanks!! Rhonda

  22. Betty
    Just thought I'd share...a few bloggers have found that over time, the crushed walnut shells rust the pins left in the cushion... I LOVE using some lavender along with my filler of choice!(This tends to vary.) One thing that I find works when filling is to use an envelope...seal it closed, cut it open on one of the "short" ends, cut a triangular piece to create the funnel...filler up!!!!!
    Busy Hands...Happy Heart
    Busy Hands...Happy Heart

  23. Great post. I've used everything but the walnut shells and bedding so far.
    Funnels work ok with the sawdust...but if the opening is small,you have to tap it or use a toothpick or something to keep it motivated! ;o)
    Or I'll use one of those medicine spoon tube things for little kids. More success with those.

    I'll also use a combination of the above items. Can also use unscented cat litter, I add lavender to many of my pinkeeps... love the smell.

    ~ Debbie


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