Can I Sew Over Pins?

We Carry
by Sara Snuggerud in Sewing Tips


(This is a picture of an actual pin that was hit by a sewing machine needle. Ouch)!

This question often is asked by sewers or from people looking at purchasing a new machine. They want to know if the new sewing machine they purchase can sew over pins like their 30 year old Kenmore can.

Answer: Yes, all sewing machines can sew over pins, most of the time.

The REAL Answer: NO, you should NOT sew over pins. Why? Please continue reading…

There are a variety of outcomes when sewing over pins.

1.  The pin was perfectly placed in the fabric and centered perfectly between the needle holes of the selected stitch length. Needle glides effortlessly over the pin without contact. Score: You Are Expert Pinner (How did you do that?)!

2. The pin was placed near where the needle is taking a stitch and you hear the needle tap the pin gently as it went into the fabric right next to the pin. Now the sewing machine needle is making a ticking sound as it goes into the fabric and even seams to be snagging the fabric with each stitch. Score: Time for a needle change. Remove 60 cents from your wallet and throw both needle and money in the trash.

3. The sewing machine needle and pin go head to head in battle, the needle breaks and flings tiny shrapnel pieces toward your face. You wish you had on your “Princess Safety Glasses” to protect your eyes. Score: You are feeling pretty lucky you weren’t hit. Again remove 60 cents from your wallet and throw both pin and money in the trash.


4. Sewing machine Needle vs. Pin battle ends badly. Needle breaks, pin is decimated into pieces you can not find. (Your hubby/kid/friend will find it in their foot next time they come to visit you barefoot in your sewing room). After rethreading your sewing machine you discover that the new needle does not pick up the bobbin thread. Score: Game/Sewing Over – sewing machine must be taken in for timing adjustment. Pay the service guys and promise not to sew over pins anymore.

Come see our service guys, Gary and Ryan …. they would love to see you!


Does the size/diameter of the pin make a difference?
Very fine silk pins are more likely to bend when hit. The needle is not as likely to break but the pin and fabric may get wedged in the throat plate. The other end of the spectrum might be the big pins used in quilting. They are long and thick and do not give when hit.

It is SO not worth the hassle of a broken needle, we have seen pins and broken bits wedged down into the throat plate, tips of needles that got into the carpet and took FOREVER to find, and you WILL hit one sooner or later. For more information, click here to read a previous tip entitled “The Proper Pin”.

When should pins be removed?
Pins should be removed a stitch or two before the needle is to the pin. This allows the presser foot to be on top of the pin but not move the fabric out of position. The pin is there in the first place to keep the layers from sliding.

Does it matter if I sew slow or fast over pins?

Pin Alternative
Professionals do not always take time to pin or baste everything. They often just align the notches or seam allowances by hand and go for it because they know their skill will make it come out right. For the rest of us, there are other options for unique situations that include scotch tape, masking tape, basting tape (double sided sticky tape) and washable glues.

From an unknown technician’s online blog –
“I am a sewing machine technician and can tell you a lot of my business comes from people who sew over pins. I wish I could remember how many jammed up pins I have taken out of machines in for service. Sure, you can sew over pins but you will relinquish the right to complain when you get one in the bottom or hook area jamming the machine and causing damage you have to pay someone like me to fix. I will always be against people sewing over pins, even though it brings me a good deal of business.

Sergers and Pins:

If you are in the habit of pinning perpendicular to the line of stitching for sewing machine sewing, and if you do not pull the pin out before it reaches the knife of the serger, the knife will CUT the pin….and RUIN the knife. Recommendation: pin parallel to the line of stitching and far enough from the edge so the pin will be to the left side of the serger’s foot as it moves past the needle.

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