Sewing Pins

Curious About the Smallest Yet Best-Selling Sewing Supply? Meet Sewing Pins

Tiny, up to the point of disappearing from sight in an instant, sewing pins are irreplaceable. You’ve heard about them during your first how to sew lessons. It’s because they are among the basic sewing supplies; there is no sewist who wouldn’t come across them at some point.  

What are t pins used for in sewing? Do they come in different colours or sizes? 

We’ve worked hard on giving you answers to the galaxy of burning questions (“galaxy” as “many”) that you may have. Follow our pins’ “stream of consciousness” in the guide below.

Sewing pins
Image source: Munro Studio on Unsplash

Sewing pins―basics

Let’s begin with a no-no. A lovely sewer Tabitha in her “Monday Minute” series, shows us how not to (and why) use sewing pins. Take a look:

In this video, you learn to sew in only one minute, but 60 minutes make an hour if you know what we mean. 

The road from a sewing hobby to successful sewing business is not that long. Get familiar with a couple of best sewing tips and tricks and sewing room ideas, and turn your house into a sewing kingdom!

Stick pins for sewing
Image source: Sarah Le on Unsplash

The use of straight pins for sewing

What are the typical ways to use straight pins? (for the record, pins and straight pins are the same things). 

According to Clover Mfg, we can utilize them to:

    1. hold patterns in place, 
    2. hold seams together, 
    3. anchor trims, beads or other embellishments in place,
    4. bind fabric pieces,
    5. block knitted products;  
    6. satisfy other specific demands and various applications;

Fine quilting pins
Image source: Suzy Quilts

Sewing pin sizes

The best sewing pins have lots of uses, and their characteristics vary. Are you curious why their size matters? Experience shows that it implies an abundance of variations of possible uses. 

Straight pins length range from 1,27 cm to 5,29 cm (1/2-inch to 2-inches). The length you want to choose depends on what you are doing.


What length of the pin

For most projects 

An all-purpose pin about 1-2 cm (1-1/2-inch) is perfect.

For quilting

You better go for a longer pin to pin through several fabric layers plus batting. Their length should be up to 5 cm (from 1-1/2 to 2-inches).

If you are applying trim

A shorter length of 1,9 cm (3/4-inch) is best, so pins don’t overlap each other.

For appliqué

You should get away with shorter pins.

We already imagine you sitting on your sewing chair in front of your sewing table (or sewing cutting table), with a pair of sewing scissors and other sewing tools in hand. 

You’re all ready and eager to start your biggest adventure. 

But hey, wait for us! Let’s conquer the fashion planet together!

Best sewing pins
Image source: Jose Pedro Ortiz on Unsplash

The thickness of a pin is measured in millimetres and is always below 1 mm.  

There are two rules to keep in mind when it comes to thickness (by The Ruffled Purse):

    1. The thinner the shaft, the smaller the hole in the fabric, crucial for delicate fabrics.
    2. The thicker the shaft, the less likely it is to bend when pinning many layers together.

We cracked various sizes of sewing pins in the table below, thanks to Sew 4 Home

The idea is to use the thinnest pin that will do the job. Common sizes include:




For very sheer fabrics


Good for:

    • delicate or lightweight fabrics, 
    • silks, and 
    • satin. 

It’s called super-fine or extra-fine.


Suitable for medium-weight fabrics. 

An essential multi-purpose pin.


For heavier fabrics like dense wool. 

They can leave a noticeable hole in mid-weight or more refined fabrics, so use it with caution.

For curious minds, and we know that everyone who is here is eager to learn, we found this exciting YouTube video. It describes all the way through the industrial making of pins and needles!

Now that you know all about sizes, let’s take a look at the material they are made of:

Sewing pins material

To review some of the most typical materials used for pins, we reached out to Sew 4 Home

The type of metal you use becomes vital in case of allergies to some of them. 

The available types contain:

    • The most common: Nickel-plated steel 
    • The strongest: Chrome-plated steel
    • The safest, made to avoid rusting: Stainless steel 
    • Nickel-plated brass

If you don’t have allergies to metal and your living environment isn’t humid, go for the most common material (nickel-plated steel). Just remember not to leave pins in fabric for long to be sure that you avoid rusting. 

Tip: You want at least a pin shaft made of nickel-plated steel to make proper use of magnetic caddies (otherwise―like in the case of stainless steel pins―they may not attract).

Straight pins for sewing
Image source: Marília Castelli on Unsplash

Pins and needles sewing points

Quoting Clover Mfg, a point is “the business end of the pin”.  

It’s the part of the pin that goes through the fabric first. So it should be clean, sharp, and shouldn’t be dull, bent or corroded. 

How can it vary, you’ll ask (not surprisingly, since we are talking about halves of millimetres).

The thing is, it can vary in sharpness.

The point can be sharp or rounded. 

    1. Pins with sharp points are suitable for most types of medium- to heavy-weight woven fabrics.
    2. Pins with rounded points (also called “ballpoint”) will be best for knits. A rounded point pushes the fabric threads out of the way and keeps them from: 
      • pulling, 
      • snagging, or 
      • breaking.

      3. The extra-sharp category also exists if we have special sewing needs. These points are: 

      • longer, 
      • more tapered and 
      • suitable for delicate fabrics. 

Quilting pins
Image source: Suzy Quilts

As we’re discussing sharpness, have a glance at “5 Tips For Using Pins Safe While Sewing” on Sew DIY. Sewing push pins aren’t big, but it doesn’t mean they can’t hurt notably. 

Given that now you know almost everything about pins, why not give your sewing kit a big-time?

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Your own custom clothing label

Heads of sewing pins

It won’t come as a surprise that petite ball head sewing pins and their other types have massive importance for the sewing process. 

You can compare them to the handle made to manipulate the pins.  

As Clover Mfg and Sew 4 Home report, pins can be made of:

    • metal, 
    • plastic, 
    • glass;

They come with specific advantages. So how to pick the one that best suits your needs? 

The glass heads are the most commonly used, as their glass ball is easy to grip. Another advantage is that they won’t melt if you touch them with a hot iron. Watch out! Some plastic pins look similar but are made of plastic that will melt with heat. 

Tip: Verify the heat resistance before using straight pins if you’re planning on ironing over your pins.

Furthermore, it’s not only the material they are made of but also the shape of the head that differentiates them.


    • ball-points (glass, metal and plastic) pins, we have:
    • flat big-head pins

They come in many shapes (i.e. flowers, butterflies, buttons). Their heads don’t melt. They are helpful when using a rotary cutter (a ruler will lay flat over the top of them). They’re easy to grip and handy for working with:

    1. loosely woven fabrics, 
    2. eyelet,
    3. lace;
    • headless pins

Also known as “satin”. These sewing pins are suitable for hand stitching as the thread is less likely to be caught on the tiny head (also read about sewing threads tips and types). They work well with:

    1. satin, and 
    2. medium weight fabrics. 

Any downsides? Headless pins are difficult to see on patterned fabrics.  

Sewing push pins
Image source: Michał Turkiewicz on Unsplash

Categorising all the types of sewing push pins is not that easy, though. So we reached out to The Ruffle Purse and Crafts to get to know a few more names (as of they weren’t already enough):

    1. T-pins
    2. Quilting pins
    3. Silk pins
    4. Pearlised pins
    5. Dressmaker pins
    6. Colour ball pins (for example, black sewing pins)
    7. Applique pins

We know how hard it is to find yourself in the store in front of the infernal overflow of pins. But we’re here to help, so don’t give up!

Sewing clips vs pins

You know the Nicon vs Canon battle, don’t you?

A similar, eternal fight takes place on the sewists’ battlefield. The only difference is that the size of objects of interest of conflicting sides is about a thousand times smaller. 

We won’t take you through the whole dispute, but take a look at this craft clips vs. sewing pins discussion on YouTube.

Best magnetic sewing pin tray
Image source: Suzy Quilts

Sewing pins FAQ

Thanks to Guide 2 Sewing, we resolved other burning questions many sewers and sewists have regarding pins. 

    1. Can you sew over pins?

It’s not the best solution if you’re working with a sewing machine. You will face the risk of the sewing machine needle hitting the pin and breaking the needle. And in this case, breaking the pin is not the biggest issue. It can cause the sewing machine timing to be off. Pull your pins out of the fabric you are sewing before it lands under the presser foot.

    1. Can you iron over pins?

You can, but only if you’re dealing with glass headpins. Plastic ones will inevitably melt, so if you like your garment to be, don’t even try. As a rule of thumb, we don’t want iron over pins to avoid all kinds of risks. 

    1. Where to stick pins for sewing? Do you need a sewing pin cushion?

There is a saying that goes:

“The very worst pin is… the one that’s stuck in your foot.” 

(Suzy Quilts)

Think about it if you’re still in doubt whether to get yourself a cute little pincushion. 

Sewing pin cushion
Image source: Nicolette Meade on Unsplash