A (Very) Little Guide to Pins

A box (or tin) of pins is an essential part of any stitcher’s work box. But did you know how many different kinds of pins there are to choose from? All the different types have different dimensions and specific uses.

First consider the head – they can be either spherical or flat head. Flat heads are just tiny metal discs which are ideal for hand sewing as your thread doesn’t get caught on them. Spherical heads can be made from plastic, metal or glass. Beware though, the plastic heads can melt if you accidentally iron over them, whilst the glass or metal won’t – though they will become very hot.

Pins have different kinds of points too and you should choose the type that slides easily into your fabric without catching on the threads. Sharp point pins are all-purpose and can be used for both medium and heavy-weight fabrics. You can obtain extrasharp points for more delicate fabrics and ballpoint pins for knits.

Pins also come in a variety of lengths. A general rule is to use short pins for thin delicate fabrics and longer pins for heavier ones. Use the finest pin you can push through the fabric without bending so that it doesn’t leave holes.

When you’re stitching straight lines place the pins at right angles to the fabric – this means you can stitch over them, even with your machine, without breaking your needle. Try to keep your pins within the seam allowance in case the pin holes do mark the fabric. For straight seams use one pin every 2” or so, but for curves and slippery fabrics use more pins to hold the pieces together securely.

We hope you find these tips useful – if you’ve got any to add, please let us know in the comments below!

*Article originally featured in Bustle & Sew Magazine. Find out more HERE

Suggested Post: A (Very) Little Guide to Fabric


I don’t have a comment on pins, Helen, but want to thank you for my Adventure Bear kit. The packaging is beautiful, the materials top quality and the instructions very clear. Thanks again!


Aw thank you for such a lovely comment Patricia – I’m so pleased you love your little Wilderness Bear kit! We would love to see pictures of your bear once you’ve made him xx

Glenna D.

Thank you, Helen and Rosie, for your tips and hints. I am finding that newer pins tend to be less consistent and thin so I am being very careful with my older ones. I especially like Iris pins for their length and sharpness and have some old short, sharp applique pins that I use for so many things, even pinning bindings for hand sewing. I am finding the same is true with needles, it must be frustrating to be just starting out with sewing and having a hard time finding quality notions.


Thanks Glenna, yes it is hard sometimes to find good quality notions I agree, and modern ones can be a bit variable. Like you I have some older pins in my tin too – dating back to my mum’s sewing days – a very long time ago!! xx


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