Geraldine Settles Sewing Pin Squabble

Geraldine Settles Sewing Pin Squabble

Dear Geraldine,

Is it ok to sew over pins?

I’m hearing differing opinions from my sewing friends and I’m writing to you to settle things once and for all. 

-Ambivalent in Albuquerque

Dear Ambivalent,

Some swear they've mastered the art of playing chicken with the sewing pins, claiming it saves time. It seems like such a harmless shortcut, until it isn't...

True, the majority of times you won’t hit a pin with your needle, but it’s only a matter of time and statistics- you WILL hit one!

Our trusty sewing machines are meant to sew fabric, not metal. Sewing needles that meet with metal will get bent, and often break and go flying. Obviously needles and pins flying about can be quite the hazard. They may hit you in the moment, or you may step on them later. Ouch!

Replacing bent or broken machine needles is a pain, and the cost adds up. Plus, hitting that pin can cause internal damage to your machine from the impact. Broken as needle points can end up in your bobbin racer and cause untold damage and frustration. This is not to mention the bane of any sewer’s existence- taking your machine in to be repaired. (So expensive and all the time not being able to use your machine. Ugh.)

It’s just not worth it. It might take an extra moment to remove those pins while sewing but it's worth it for the longevity of your machine and, more importantly, your safety.

If you just can't resist trying to sew over those pins, let’s talk about alternatives to pins for keeping your fabric layers in place whilst sewing. Depending on your sewing project, you have several options:

Good old fashioned thread basting- use old or off color thread to hold layers in place with large, easily removable stitches

Glue basting- use washable glue stick or liquid glue, or basting to keep seams (and quilt layers) in place

Sewing clips- this is the latest innovation- tiny little clothespin like clips that firmly hold layers together.  Pinch your layers right outside the sewing ‘line’ and you can leave them in. Or remove them as you go. Bonus- you won’t stick yourself on them AND they are magnetic just like pins, so you can toss them onto a magnetic wrist pincushion to corral them. Love Sew carries both!

Sewing clips 

Hem clips- These will not only hold hems in place instead of pins, but they have measurements on them to keep your hems even!

Hem clips

I hope that not only answers your question, but offers you some useful alternatives. To each their own, but in my opinion, sewing over pins is a really good habit to break!  

Love always and happy sewing,


P.S.  Please share your thoughts on sewing over pins, solutions, and pins-go flying-stories!


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Would like to purchase the Ferris wheel kit but I cannot find the kind of thread that is recommended. I’m a newbie but want to have the kit for a. It later in my quilting career! lol!

Joan Dressler

Joan Dressler

When you say the quilt kits are pre cut does that mean ready to sew together ? Just had surgery and at almost 90 years old want to get back into sewing..
Thanks Joan

Nancy Gaffney

Nancy Gaffney

I have issues with my fingers so I do this:
Large paper clips work wonderful. You can easily remove them.



Do the hem roller feet fit a babylock jazz 2

Robin B

Robin B

My mother & grandmothers always sewed over pins so I did too. UNTIL I hit a pin with my favorite Singer Featherweight machine. 😫 That one pin messed up the timing and was quite expensive to repair. Unfortunately it has never sewn the same since the pin catastrophe. 💔
Lesson learned the worst way.

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