Plain or Plastic?

What's Your Style

Over the last eight posts we have been having fun answering simple sewing/quilting questions. Today let’s answer question number nine.

Today’s topic is pins. Pins are a common quilting tool. Pins come in various shapes and forms. Some are very short and thin while others are not. The head of a pin can be made of metal, glass or plastic. There are ball-point and sharp point pins. There are appliqué, quilting, safety, silk, T-pins and clips. Today’s question has three parts:

  1. Do you use pins?
  2. For what purpose?
  3. What type or brand do you prefer?

As you have learned from my previous posts I am very fussy. I’ve tried to loosen up and not be so particular but it seems to be a long term process. Given my need for perfection you can be sure I use pins when stitching quilting pieces together. If I’m working with my improv projects I do not. There are no seams or points to match with improv. I like to use quilting pins as my pin of choice. I prefer these because of their larger size and the large plastic ball. I’m not as young as I used to be so the larger utensils make it easier for me. There is a drawback to the plastic heads. I’ve learned through experience that a hot iron can melt the head to your fabric. Sigh…. ;). Melted plastic doesn’t come off fabric very easy. Dah!

If by chance I am working with wool appliqué, which is very seldom, I use my teeny tiny appliqué pins.


22 thoughts on “Plain or Plastic?

  1. I pin when i need to get super accurate seams. I love the little plastic clips for English paper piecing and sewing down quilt bindings. For basic piecing I do not usually pin. I enjoyed reading the comments on this post!

    1. Tierney, I think we sort of follow the same mantra. Although I haven’t gotten into epp. Maybe someday! I have enjoyed interacting with everyone. It’s exactly the kind of conversation I envisioned! 🙂

  2. I can’t possibly pick just one. =) I have silk pins and 1/2″ applique pins, quilt pins with big yellow heads (which mostly pin things into the wall to hold on to them!), flat flower-head pins and even Soviet-manufactured pins which have no head at all, just a loop at the end. They are my favorite for pinning on a longarm machine, because they are totally flat and take no space, make no bump. I use the others for a variety of purposes, and flower head are probably my piecing pins.

    I don’t pin much other than borders, to make sure they are evenly distributed, and I take them out before I get to them when sewing. I don’t use pins for binding. I’ve used those bendable barrettes for years, and now you can buy them as binding clips! I like them better than wonder clips, because they are longer and I think they hold better. I haven’t bought any wonder clips, but people keep giving them to me, so I have a lot. Need some? LOL

  3. My piecing pins are, I think, “silk” pins. They are all metal and very thin. Thin pins don’t distort the way the fabric is laying, so my pinning and piecing accuracy are better. For quilting I use long heavy pins with flat plastic heads. They are what I use to attach my quilt backs to the leaders on the longarm frame. I like the flat heads because when the quilt layers are rolled up, the pins don’t leave bumps or distortions. Someone gave me a package of the plastic clips and I hated them. I don’t pin my whole binding up at a time. I use 2 or 3 springy hair clips and just clip a few inches. I move the one I stitch to, and then keep stitching to the next, and move it, and so on. For my money, they secure the layers in place better than the plastic clips.

    1. Melanie, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I use to pin my Quilts to the longarm quilter with T-pins but got tired of the amount of time I had to spend doing it. When I doing it as a business, time is money. Sad to say but that’s how it is. Now I use red snappers and am very pleased with the speed as well as the outcome. Another added bonus, no more bleeding fingers from poking my fingers. It is very interesting how differently yet similar the preferences run amongst my readers. Thank you for your thought provoking response. 🙂 Cindy

  4. In general: the finer pointed long shank quilting pins are my go-tos due to ease of use without ruining the fabric with ugly ‘holes’; I tried quilt-basting safety pins and almost ruined a treasured piece in the process (see- ) I will NEVER use those again!!!
    And I just discovered (even though they’ve been on the market a long time) plastic binding clips – I love,love,love them for use in that purpose! More precise in holding the binding to be hand stitched without the pin-sticking hazard and in machine use, they are easy to remove.
    Like Rosanne, that’s my 2cents’ on a clear, crisp, cold south carolina friday morning!

    1. Laura, I have used the curved safety pins that are supposed to be great for quilting but abandoned them early on. I hated putting them in and even more when removing them while quilting. I even purchased the tool that is supposed to make them easier to apply and remove but was not impressed. I have since abandoned both of them. The plastic clips are my favorite as well. So versatile! So sorry South Carolina has been hit by this nasty cold. Stay warm! Thanks for sharing your “two cents!” Loved reading your comment. 🙂 Cindy

  5. When I first started, I pinned everything 100 times over. I use the yellow head quilting pins.
    Now, I still use these pins, but I only pin in strategic places. I also use the flat head butterfly pins when I am working on on some projects. They are flatter, but they are flimsy. Also, I usually jab myself with these longer pins, so they are not my first choice.
    I have a question about marking pens. I have tried the Pilot FriXion, but they do not come out smoothly and they seem to dry out right away. I have also tried the water and air soluble, but the air pen dissolves right away and the water pen is sometimes difficult to come off. The pencil marking pens are hard to see, and the chalk is not as accurate. What do you use? Maybe I am doing something wrong when it comes to using the FriXions. Any hints?

    1. Good question! I have used the Pilot FriXion pens too. It does take quite a bit of friction to completely remove the markings and that is why I don’t use them very much. I have heard that people seal their pens in plastic zip bags to keep them from drying out but I have never tried it. Perhaps I should though because I would agree that those and most of the other pens dry out much quicker than I would prefer. The air pens do disappear quickly so they are only applicable for a very short lived project. The water soluble ones can be real stinkers to remove entirely. With those it’s important that the ink not be exposed to heat from your iron. To remove them completely I would use the Dawn dishwashing soap and water method Melanie shared on her blog. Here’s a link to the article . My preferred method to mark items is my chalk pencil. While it is not particularly accurate it serves my purpose. Does that help you or confuse you? Thanks for asking! 🙂 Cindy

      1. I never rub out the FriXion pens! I just press with a hot iron, or even get the steam close enough and out they go. Yes, I stuck a block in the freezer once, and light lines came back, but they also ironed right out. My crazy quilting, embroidery and applique (my uses for the pens) are not going to be any place that cold! =)

  6. I use puns for everything, even in my knitting!! My safety pins are all metal, but my straight pins have a plastic head of some sort on them so I can grab them easier. The flower ones make me smile:)

  7. Hi Cindy,
    You know, I think everyone is a little ‘fussy’ about some things and in many different areas of life. Like pens and pencils – I only like fine point and mechanical. I have just recently (2017) started using those cute little clips. I got 100 pink ones in a very inconvenient package (that I promptly threw away) and they work just great for holding the binding in place. And no more getting stuck with the pins as I sew down the binding! I really prefer pins for piecing though. And not those yellow pins that are long and too thick – they leave big holes! I like the little white pins that are thinner and shorter and very sharp. I have not had the iron issue – I don’t recall ever having pins in something I’ve ironed . . . hmmm. So there’s my two cents on this very chilly Friday morning. Happy day! ~smile~ Roseanne

    1. Roseanne, We are creatures of habit. I totally agree with your choice of writing utensils. I use the same ones. I don’t even know how many clips I have. All I know is that I have enough to fill three storage bins which translates into enough to clip the binding on a king size quilt. LOL! I don’t mind the holes made by the yellow pins especially because the pins are very sturdy and not whimsy like the ones with the multi colored heads. I’ve even had some with butterfly’s on them but after only one use I gave them to my daughter. Way too flimsy for my taste. Thank you for your “two cents!” I enjoyed reading your reply. It is indeed a very chilly Friday. I’m looking forward to Sunday’s thaw! LOL! If you can call temperatures in the 20’s a thaw. I bet my hubby will get the shorts out because it will be so warm. 🙂

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