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5 minute guide to pinning like a pro

Selection of pins and clips on pink cutting mat. Text reads: 5 minute guide to pinning like a pro!

Would you be surprised to hear that the way you pin your fabric together while constructing a garment can have a negative impact on how the garment comes together?

It's probably one of the more harmless steps in the process of making your own clothes, but pinning correctly can make your sewing experience much more enjoyable, lead to less wasted time and a better finish on your makes.

And who doesn't want that, right?

The impact of poor pinning

What can you expect to see if you're being a bit sloppy or lazy with your pinning method?

Probably the most noticeable affect will be on your sewing efficiency.

Now, you might be thinking, "Lindsey, I'm not too worried about my sewing efficiencies." 😆 And I can totally appreciate that, but when you're sat at your sewing machine ready to stitch and you realise the way you pinned the pieces together means you can't remove them easily while you sew...

OR you've already stitched the pieces together, only to find that the fabric moved and now there's gathers and so your choice is to unpick the seam, re-pin and re-sew or just be happy with always disappointed whenever you look at that seam (because you will, let's be honest)...

Well, let's just say 'Future You' might just thank 'Past Lindsey' for creating this post and helping you save some time. 🤣

And, of course there's the impact on the quality and fit of a finished garment. Poorly cut pieces, misaligned construction, gathers in seams where there's not meant to be gathers, pieces stretching while being sewn together... and the list goes on.

By just taking a very brief moment to make sure you're pinning correctly you can avoid a lot of stress!

So, today I'm giving you super-fast overview of how to pin so that you end up with a garment that comes together beautifully that you love to wear!



What direction should you pin in?

Apart from the quality of pins you use, the direction you pin your fabric together in is probably the main thing you need to consider.

Parallel pinning

If you're pinning parallel to something, think of it as being in the same direction. For example, pin parallel to the edges of a pattern when you're cutting out the fabric.

This way you don't risk potentially blunting your scissors if you try to cut through a pin that's sticking over the edge of the pattern piece.

Pattern piece pinned to pink fabric.

It can be hard to pin neatly when working with narrow widths, like zips and bias binding, so I recommend pinning parallel to the edge of the fabric in these situations as well.

Also, insert the pins in the opposite direction to how you will sew the seam so that as you are sewing you can remove the pins by pulling them out towards you.

Pinning in the same direction as the seam will be sewn can make it VERY difficult to remove the pins once you've started stitching the seam. Plus, you have to remove them well before the needle stitches where they were holding the fabric together, leaving more chance for movement between the pieces you're sewing.

Perpendicular pinning

Perpendicular pinning is when the pins intersect the seam you're sewing at a 90 degree angle.

Perpendicular pinning on garment.

This is the most common pinning method, because it's much easier to remove the pins (to the left) as you sew.

Pinning across the seam also means you can *gasp* SEW OVER the pins, instead of removing them. While I don't recommend you do this, if you're going to, please SEW SLOWLY - you're less likely to break a needle, put a hole in your fabric, and kick yourself later.

An alternative to pins?

Sometimes there might be reasons why pins aren't the best options for holding fabric together, like when you're sewing leather, wool, canvas or other heavyweight fabrics.

Even though they might be sharp and able to get through lots of layers, pins can leave a hole in some fibres (like leather) and the pins themselves need to bend in order to do their job through lots of layers.


For situations like this I highly recommend having a stash of clips close to hand. If you're a quilter, you've probably already got these in your kit because they're often used when sewing binding on.

Clips are great because you can slide them along as you sew, leaving less chance of things moving around, plus they won't leave any unsightly holes in your fabric.

Delicate fabric stitched and held together with blue clip.

On the other hand, clips are also really good for using with delicate fabrics, particularly if the quality of your pins leaves a little to be desired and are likely to cause pulls and runs.

You should ALWAYS test your pins for sharpness on a scrap of fabric before you begin to pin! And invest in good quality pins right from the start.

Well, that's it for the 5 minute guide to pinning like a pro! Pinning really doesn't have to be complicated, but just a few little tweaks to your approach can really make your sewing experience a lot more enjoyable!


Hey y'all!

Welcome to Sew To Grow!
Our mission is to help you build a perfectly fitted handmade wardrobe, so when someone asks where you got your fabulous frock you can confidently say 'I made it!'. To help you on your sewing journey, here you'll find a range of tutorials about sewing techniques, garment fitting, notions and tools, fabric and more!

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