Are you wondering how to pin fabric before you sew your first seam? Pinning is a form of basting and is used to hold 2 or more fabrics together before you start sewing. There are 2 main methods you can use to pin fabric – horizontal to the seam or vertically (sometimes referred to as perpendicular).
How to Pin Fabric
My mother always taught me to pin horizontally so most of the time I use this method out of habit. There are circumstances however where vertical pinning will be more effective at holding the fabric.
Vertical pinning is great for curved pattern pieces and ruffles. Experiment and choose the method that suits you best. There is no right or wrong.
How to Pin Fabric Horizontal
When you pin fabric horizontally, you pin in line with the edge of the fabric.
Make sure the pins are pointing in the same direction as you are sewing so you can remove them easily without pricking your fingers. The heads should be pointing towards you.
Start stitching slowly and remove the pins as you sew. This method is best used for straight seams.
How to Pin Fabric Vertical
Vertical fabric pinning is especially useful for sewing curves or ruffles as it securely holds the fabric in place. The pins are placed at a 90-degree angle to the edge of the fabric. Since the pins are pinned through your main fabric, it is advisable to first make sure they don’t mark the fabric.
You won't be able to use this method for fabrics such as fine silk and vinyl where the pins will leave holes.
Place your pins across the seam allowance with the heads sticking out. (If you are left-handed then you may find it easier to have them pointing in.) In theory, you can stitch over the pins but I have had many a broken needle caused by pins that weren’t removed - so don’t do it!
Further Reading: Can you sew over pins?
More Ways of Pinning Fabric
How to Pin Stretchy Fabric
It is recommended that you use a horizontal method for pinning stretchy fabrics. This is because many pins will snag the delicate stretch fabric and leave holes that will get larger after you have washed your items a couple of times.
How to Pin a Pattern to Fabric
Pinning a pattern to fabric involves pinning through the tissue paper and down into the fabric. The best way to do this is to smooth your paper pattern flat and then start pinning at the edges. Once the edges are sufficiently secured, place further pins in the center of the pattern piece. I always place a pin at the edges where there are notches so I can cut them accurately.
How to Pin Fabric for Quilting
Quilting can involve pinning through numerous layers including thick batting. The easiest way to hold quilting together is actually with safety pins rather than regular straight pins. You can purchase specialty quilting pins or use regular safety pins. Ensure you use large ones, however.
How to Get Pin Holes out of Fabric
If you use the wrong size pins or simply have delicate fabric, you may end up with holes where the pins were inserted. Here are some ways to remove these holes.
- Run your nail or a small spoon end over the hole to move the threads to cover it.
- Spray with water, then gently massage the area.
How to Pin Fabric | TIPS
- Keep a spare pin-cushion next to your machine to put the pins in once you remove them.
- If a pin has trouble piercing your fabric, throw it away immediately. Don't put it back in the pincushion to have the same problem later.
- Use the correct type of pin for your project. Read my article on types of pins for sewing. Specialty pins for jersey knits and silk will stop unwanted holes or snags in your fabric.
You will need somewhere to store your pins. On this blog, I have several pin cushion patterns which are great beginner projects.
If you have any extra tips on the best way how to pin fabric for sewing please share them below.
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