Sewing Pins: A Love-Hate Relationship

Pinning is one of the most tedious aspects of sewing. That’s why I hate it! When I’m in a hurry, it is the first step I skip. But even though I hate pins, I can’t deny how much nicer my sewing projects turn out when I use them.

Sewing pins actually make machine sewing easier because they keep the fabric from pulling or going out of alignment as you sew — I can’t tell you how many seams I’ve had to unpick because I didn’t use pins. Sewing pins also make your cut lines better when cutting out pattern pieces. So, if you use pins throughout the sewing process, you’ll always get a better finished product.

Steps for Pinning Pattern Pieces to Fabric

You should always pin your pattern pieces to your fabric before cutting them out. Typically, the more pins you use, the straighter your cut lines will be.

Follow the steps below to learn the best way to pin a sewing pattern onto your fabric.

  • Step 1: Start by putting a pin on each end of the grain line mark (the double-ended arrow in the middle of the pattern). This will help you make sure that your garment drapes and stretches properly when it is finished. It also helps keep the pattern flat while you are doing the rest of the pinning.
  • Step 2: Place a pin at each corner of the pattern piece, smoothing the pattern down as you go.
  • Step 3: Place pins every two to three inches apart — it’s a good idea to use more pins around the corners and near notch marks.

Before you start cutting, make sure that none of the pins are going to get in the way. The pin heads should not be hanging over the edge of the pattern at all. They should be parallel to the cut lines and about a 1/2-inch in from the edge of the pattern pieces.

Pinning Each Step of the Way

Once your fabric pieces are all cut out, you should pin each step on the sewing instructions before sewing them. This prevents fabric slipping while machine sewing. It also gives you cleaner seams and a better finished product.

The way you pin pattern pieces is different than the way you pin as you sew. When you are pinning before sewing, it really helps to put the pins perpendicular to the fabric edge so that they are easy to remove no matter which way you are sewing. It is perfectly fine for them to hang off the edge of the fabric because you aren’t cutting anything.

Helpful Pinning Tips

  • I prefer magnetic pin holders over standard pin cushions because they can quickly pickup pins to keep them all in one place. You can also just drop pins on a magnetic holder instead of having to make sure the point of the pin goes into a standard pin cushion.
  • Ballpoint pins should be used with knit fabrics to prevent snagging.
  • 1-inch pins with balls on the top are the best pins to use because they are easiest to spot.
  • Throw away dull pins because they can snag fabric.

My Love Hate Relationship with Sewing Pins