10 Types of Sewing Pin (and when to use them)

I‘ll be honest, for a long time pins were pins.  I had them, I used them, I gave them very little thought.  Turns out its really handy to know what different pins are out there, and what their best uses are.  Read on to discover what I discovered, and you’ll be pleased you did!

So, in alphabetical order…

Applique pins

These teeny tiny pins are useful for pinning really small areas, so as the names suggests they come in very handy with applique, but they can be helpful when you need lots of pins in a small space (for example curves).  You can buy some by clicking here!

Ball-point pins

Just like sewing machine needles of the same name, these pins have a rounded end so are ideal for knit fabrics as they slip between the fibres rather than cutting through.

Bridal and lace pins

So, the name tells you a lot here, but I imagine you could substitute other kinds of luxury fabric in the title.  The science here is that these pins will have been made from a material that doesn’t rust, such as brass, and therefore there is no risk of leaving marks in your expensive fabric.

Dressmaking pins

No surprises as to what these are used for! Although in reality these are pins that can be used for a whole range of sewing (bags, purses, toys etc). The thing you need to watch out for is the thickness of the pin, as they come in different sizes.  In the UK this is given in mm, in the US it will be denoted by a size number.  As you can probably imagine, finer fabrics require a thinner pin to avoid leaving a nasty hole.  It’s sort of obvious, and yet I’ll admit for a long time I never realized this was the case!

Flower head pins

These are long and thin, so often used for quilting because of the many layers of fabric and wadding that are involved.  However, the flat flower head is also helpful when: you need to lay a tape measure across your pinned area, or you are working with lace or other materials with a loose weave as the head won’t slip through.  Plus they are super pretty and make you smile.

Glass head pins

So-called because of the colourful glass bobble on the end (lovely!).  These could probably be classed as a catch-all pin, so useful for when you don’t need one of the other specialized varieties.  However, once again its worth taking a closer look at thickness and the type of material they have been made from.  Usually, this is nickle-plated or stainless steel, which are fairly strong and therefore less likely to bend (I’ll admit I do have a few bent pins in my pin cushion which I really must get rid of, how irritating they are!)  And the glass head means they can cope with the heat of an iron if you need to keep pins in while pressing.

Plastic head pins

As above, these have a colourful little bobble on top (or similar, there are some quirky little numbers out there including hearts and flowers).  But these are made of plastic.  So DON’T iron over them!  Again, a catch all pin, but generally cheaper, so good for a wide range of projects that don’t require any specialist thought.  And with both the plastic and glass heads, you can easily see them (reduces risk of leaving them in by mistake!)

Quilting pins

These are longer and stronger than other pins, meaning they can cope better with the layers of fabric and wadding used in quilting.

Sequin pins

These pins tend to be relegated to the realm of the wider craft world as they are often used for sticking beads and sequins into polystyrene to make those sparkly ornaments and decorations.  However, being short they can also serve a similar purpose to applique pins in enabling you to pin small areas of fabric (just watch the thickness with your chosen material).

Silk pins

Similar to bridal and lace pins in that they are designed not to rust.  However, these are also extra fine to avoid leaving holes in the lovely expensive silk you are using.

Now I could go on, as the world of upholstery has its own family of pins for specific purposes, but for the average sewing enthusiast the above list should cover most of your sewing needs.  Its certainly helped me to get a bit more savvy about how these small and relatively inexpensive items can make such a big difference to my sewing.

If you love to sew, why not sign up to my Creative Sewing Challenge?  You’ll receive a new prompt each month to inspire your sewing.

I hope that’s been useful!  If you wanted to share my pin on Pinterest I’d really appreciate it…