These are adaptations of decorative pincushions given as presents to new parents upon the birth of their children. The present was actually the straight pins, which were quite costly and used for fastening clothing, even diapers. The decorative aspect of the pincushion was simply a very pleasing way of presenting the pins. Scraps of silk, lace and trims left over from dress making were used to fashion the pincushions.
I hand sew each pincushion, which has a lining of 100% cotton canvas, and is stuffed with sawdust. I use modern pins. Reproduction pins are available, but sell for $2 each. If I were to use reproduction pins, the price of the finished pincushions would be prohibitive.