Sewing Pins – Knowing the Different Types
Sewing pins are used to hold fabric together prior to sewing. They temporarily hold the fabric in place when attaching and cutting patterns, or while sewing. They are best to use with a machine because they are easy to remove quickly as you sew. Sewing pins come in many lengths and thicknesses, and have different pinheads, materials, and tips, each with a specific purpose.
Types of Sewing Pins and Choosing the Right One
There are two types of sewing pins. The most commonly used is the straight pin, also know as the hemming pin or basting pin. The key facets of straight pins that differ and can help you choose the type you need are length, thickness, and type of head and tip. The metal or finish of the straight pin is typically brass, steel, nickel, or a combination thereof. The metal used with sewing pins determines whether the pins will stick to a magnet - a plus for making sure there are none on the floor. Nickel plating is useful for steel pins as it helps the pin stick to a magnet and prevents it from rusting.
The other type of sewing pin typically used is the safety pin. These pins are ideal for sewing projects in which the fabric will be moved around a lot or there is a risk of a person being stuck by a stray pin. Learn more about safety pins and sewing with them at the Safety Pin Buying Guide.
Heads and Tips on Straight Pins
- The typical pinhead on the straight pin is a blunt nub made of the same metal and called a flat head.
- Straight pins are also available with large color ball heads made of plastic or glass, making them easier to see and grasp.
- T-pins have a head bent into the shape of a capital letter T, making them also easier to grasp and see.
Straight pins come standard with pointed tips, but ballpoint tips are available to avoid catching threads when working with knits.
Straight Pin Length and Width
Metric and imperial pins are made to different specifications and are not exactly equivalent. Pins made in the US, or imperial pins are categorized by a size number and length in inches to the nearest 1/16 inch. The sizing systems are different for straight pins and safety pins. Metric pins are not categorized by a size number, but rather by length in millimeters to the nearest millimeter.
Imperial straight pins are offered in sizes ranging from ½ inch to 1-3/4 inch (~1.3 mm to 4 mm), with each size corresponding to an increase in 1/16 inch (~1.6 mm). The most common sizes are 8, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 24, and 28. One oddity to note with regards to T-pins is that, while they are available in sizes 16, 20, 24, 28, and 32 - the longest T-pin at 2 inches (~51 mm) - size 28 T-pins are sometimes referred to as "extra long".
For metric straight pins, typical sizes are 13, 25, 26, 30, and 34 mm (~0.5 to 3.7 inch). Metric T-pins are often offered at a 44 mm (~1.7 inch) length, and safety pins at 37 mm (~1-1/2 inches) and 46 mm (~1.8 inches). Descriptions of metric pins are more likely to include the thickness and offer more variety in that area, while imperial pins seem to be available in a greater number of lengths.
In general, longer pins tend to be thicker, made for coarser fabrics. Dressmaker or seamstress pins are the most common, and are designed for fabrics of light- to medium-weight. Pleating pins are a bit shorter and extra fine, suitable for delicate fabric. Very short pins, often called appliqué and sequin or sequin pins, are some of the shortest pins offered. Another type of straight pin is the bridal and lace pin.
Differentiating Pin Types
Sewing pins are differentiated from specialized pins for other tasks, including quilting pins, flower or corsage pins, kilt pins, a knitting stitch holder that looks like an oversize safety pin, hat pins, bobbin lace pins, and diaper pins. There are also fork pins, sometimes known as upholstery pins or loose cover pins, which are shaped like a U. Tidy pins, also called twist pins or upholstery pins, have a top like a thumbtack and a helix shaped shaft, and are specially designed to hold slipcovers, mattress pads, and doilies in place. Notice that the name upholstery pins is used for two quite different items.
Common Sewing Pin Manufacturers
Sewing Pin Inspiration
Jar Pincushion from ThinkCrafts.com
Check out various craft projects using sewing pins at our Think Crafts Blog.
Billie G. Henson is the owner of Crafty Angel Designs
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