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A Pin for Every Purpose

Although they are among the tiniest of sewing tools, pins have very important jobs.
Specialty pins assist with various sewing tasks
Traditional tomato pincushion
Although they are among the tiniest of sewing tools, pins have very important jobs.

Although they are among the tiniest of sewing tools, pins have very important jobs.


Some sewing projects require long pins, other ventures may do better with short, stubby pins. Pin length used to be listed on packages as sizes (size 12 = 3/4 inch long, etc.), but most pin manufacturers now just list the actual lengths.


Appliqué/sequin This 1/2- to 3/4-inch length is the best choice for applying appliqués, trim, or sequins, as you can position many pins close together (below left). Long pins, in comparison, overlap awkwardly (below right).

Short length Long length

Dressmaker/all-purpose If in doubt, reach for this medium- length (1-1/16- to 1-1/2-inch) pin. It is appropriate for all sorts of garment sewing.

Quilting pin

Quilting Made especially for pinning through many layers of fabric and batting, this 1-1/2- to 2-inch pin is also garment-friendly, as its long length hardly ever slips out of place.





To avoid marring fabric with pin holes, choose the thinnest pin to accomplish the task at hand. Unfortunately, we discovered that the naming convention, as it relates to actual diameters, isn't consistent among manufacturers. So the best thing to do is roll a pin between your fingers to gauge its actual thickness.

  .4mm, .5mm, .6mm and .7mm or .8mm.

.4mm The thinnest traditional pin we found was a .4mm "Patchwork Pin (Fine)" by Clover. It passes beautifully through the finest of sheers.

.5mm Called "extra-fine," "super-fine," "silk," or "satin," these .5mm pins are recommended for fine, lightweight fabrics, including some sheers.

.6mm Most all-purpose pins are labeled "fine," and are best paired with medium-weight fabrics.

.7mm or .8mm Although harder to find, these diameters are great for thicker fabrics like heavy wools, denim, and quilted layers. But they do leave large holes in their wake. 

Insect pins Insect pins: superfine and rust-resistant
Forget bugs, this very skinny (size 00 - .3mm) and flexible spring steel pin is a great choice for fine fabrics. Originally created for insect collectors and entomologists, the double-coating of black enamel-to, yuck, resist insect fluids-makes them easy to see, plus they're rust-resistant. Indigo Instruments

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Comments (4)

dmc000 dmc000 writes: Those bug pins are interesting I see that they sell a variety pack:
I still have a hard time finding super fine long pins with glass head for general sewing. I think I used to order some from Clotilde? It's good to buy back up when you find the good ones! I might try the bug pins, they have stainless as well as the black enamel.
Posted: 3:41 pm on June 20th

mjpoll mjpoll writes: I am looking for pins to hold doilies onto furniture. Do they sell them on this website?
Posted: 3:00 am on August 21st

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Posted: 2:30 pm on July 4th

cynsew cynsew writes: This is a great article. I have sewed for years and still read needle info that I did not know. Thank you!
Posted: 6:36 am on March 23rd

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