Pin Point

We Carry
by in Sewing Tips

Pins are a sewer’s necessity. Mom always said, You have to pin before you sew. As a child, I hated pinning, but throughout my sewing years, I have come realize that pinning is a fact of life. For the best results, pinning is a requirement.

Selecting the right pin is a whole other story. If your pin cushion or pin box has a collection of pins that are different lengths, different colors, and different sizes, which ones do you tend to reach for? The ones that are the sharpest? The ones that push through the fabric best? Or the ones that are the straightest?

If your pin collection is mixed with different kinds of pins, it is time to sort! First, remove all the pins that are bent or dull. There is no reason to keep these around just to be frustrated! Second, determine the type of pins you personally like. Though there are different pins for different fabrics and projects, pin selection comes down to personal preference. If one pin is easier for you to handle than another, then that is the right pin for you.

There are five parts of a pin to consider: head, point, length, thickness and metal content.

Pin heads can be made of plastic, glass or with no-head at all. Glass headed pins can be ironed over without melting and are often found on higher quality pins. Plastic flower head pins are great for easy handling and do not get in the way when measuring over these pins. When hand sewing, select pins without heads for less catching of the thread.

Pin points can vary in sharpness from sharp for regular fabrics to extra sharp for finer fabrics. There are even ballpoint pins to use with knit fabrics so not to break the fibers.

Pin length varies from pin type. Pins that are ½ to ¾ in length are perfect for pining appliques or trims in place where multiple pins may need to overlap. Overlapping of longer pins would get in each others way. The most common length is between 1 to 1 1/2″ for general pining of fabrics and patterns. Quilting pins are the longest ranging between 1 1/2 to 2inches making them the best choice when pining through multiple layers including batting.

Pin thickness is important to not leave a pin hole. Using a finer needle on satins, micro-fibers and other dense fibers will leave less of a mark than with a thicker pin. Always test the pin on the fabric before pinning to be sure the pin holes will heal on their own or press out. There is nothing worse than having permanent pin holes showing after a project is completed.

Pin metal content should be checked if using pins from grandma’s sewing box. These days most quality pins are made of nickel-plated brass that will not rust. To test rust-resistance, spray fabric with salt water to see which pins rust. For safety, do not leave pins in fabric for years on end.

Specialty pins such as fork pins and T-pins have specific uses. Fork pins look like a fork tuner with double sharp points. These pins are perfect for matching plaids, strips and are great when aligning diamond shaped quilting points. T-pins are very thick and are best used on heavy upholstery fabrics. Being extra thick they will not bend while being forced through bulky fabrics.

Take a few minutes to clean out your pincushion. Group different types of pins together separating them by length or by type of head, plastic and glass. If it is time to buy some new pins finding your favorite pin might take a few purchases. My favorite pin is the Quilting Pin (Fine) by Clover. They are glass head pins that are extra long and extra fine. It is so nice not to have to hunt for the good pins, because no other pins are mixed in with them!

The moral of the story is: The next time you try to use a pin that has to be forced through the fabric, throw it out!