The Essential Guide to Sewing Pins

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Inside: The Essential Guide to Sewing Pins

When it comes to sewing pins, I prefer the It Takes a Village approach.

No, I don’t have a weird pin-fixation. All of these pins have a purpose in sewing. Use the wrong pin and it could ruin your project.

The thing with pins is they sort of all look alike and if you just throw them in a pin box you are likely to use the incorrect one when you get ready to sew.

So, to better keep up with my pins, I’ve devised an inexpensive system.

The Essential Guide to Sewing Pins Collection

Why You Need A System

When you purchase sewing pins, they usually come in a plastic box and look like this.

A disaster if your pin box gets knocked off your sewing table and falls onto the floor. I make no confessions, here!

The Essential Guide to Sewing Pins - Ball Point Pins

Ball Point Pins for Knits

There are 75 ball point pins in this box, each 1.5” long. These pins have a specific purpose. They are designed for sewing on knits.
If I were to use a Universal pin, it would leave a small hole in my knit fabric.
If I use a ball point pin, it doesn’t leave a hole. You always want to use ball points when sewing with knits.
But, these pins look just like my other pins, so I need a way to keep them separate.

To keep my ball points separate, but available for knit sewing, I purchased a purple tomato pin cushion for $1.00 at Joann’s (w/coupon).
I labeled it with a fine point Sharpy. That’s how easy it is.

Hint: Find out more about sewing with knits. 

The Essential Guide to Sewing Pins - Ball Point Pins

Universal Pins for Wovens

I use this cute little bird pin cushion to hold my round-head universal pins. These pins are 1.75” long and need something deep to stab them into.

The Essential Guide to Sewing Pins - Universal Pins

Flat Head Pins

I use my Universal pins for most wovens. I keep these pins separate because of the yellow head. It is plastic and would melt if I ironed over it. I have another set of Universal pins, but they have a flat, no-melt head. They also are 1.75” long and need something deep, as well. I keep these pins in a large tomato pin cushion which costs about $2 at Joann’s (with a coupon).

The Essential Guide to Sewing Pins - Flat Head Pins

Extra-Sharp Pins for Sheer Fabrics

Anytime you sew on sheer fabrics or silks you need to use extra sharp pins.  I keep these guys on a magnetic pin cushion. Since I don’t use them that often, they can stay put in a drawer or on the back of my sewing table.

OK, I wasn’t completely honest, here. These pins are S-H-A-R-P and I always draw blood when I over-handle them. The magnetic pin cushion is the best choice for a blood-free project.

It would be easier if all of my pins were on magnetic pin cushions, but I’m always a little concerned about having magnets close by my computerized sewing machines.

Since these aren’t used every day, they are fine on the magnetic pin holder.

The Essential Guide to Sewing Pins - Sharp Pins

Sewing Machine Needles

Let’s not forget sewing machine needles. If you use a heavy duty needle for something like hemming jeans, you don’t want to just toss it after one use.
Here’s my way of keeping up with barely used machine needles. An inexpensive pin cushion and a fine point Sharpy are all you need.

The Essential Guide to Sewing Pins - Sewing Machine Needle Storage

I really like the tomato pin cushions for keeping all of my pins organized. (affiliate)

For one, the little strawberry has a purpose. It is filled with emery sand and will sharpen your pins.

The best reason for using them is that they come in a variety of sizes and colors, making it easy to keep your pins separated.
This makes pin-a-holics, like myself, very happy.

Please Pin this image so you can easily refer back to this post!

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  1. Leslie, I had to laugh at your post because I, too, separate my pins. My extra long piecing pins have either gold or green glass heads — and I keep them on the magnetic pin holder with all the gold ones pointing one way, the green ones the other.

  2. I had no idea that there were so many different pins and different uses for each one! Thank you so much for sharing this, I am going to go organize my pins now!!! 🙂

  3. Very clever! I always enjoy reading about how other crafters/sewers manage the organizational tasks. I believe in having the right tool for a job and having a place for everything and everything in it’s place. (I said I believe in it, but like many things I believe in, putting it in practice is another matter!)

  4. Leslie, I’m so glad that you keep these older posts archived. I just made a trip to Jo-ann’s yesterday to get the ball point pins and a double ball point needle. Since my old machine was about 40 years old, I wanted to get back into sewing so I purchased a new one a little while back and then realized that many of my sewing accessories were not marked or hopelessly useless. I am already an avid labeler and love the pin cushion for the machine needles–plan to use that one right away. I have really enjoyed your articles and always look forward to the new ones.

  5. I love this article! I have been sewing for years, and make draperies and other soft furnishings for clients. I like to use long glass head pins for my projects. I’m hoping to get back into sewing clothes, so the info about the ball-point pins was very helpful!

  6. Love knowing how others do things. I even stored some needles in pill bottles, guess I’ll find them a less dull place.

    1. Betty, Just glue a fabric covered wad of steel wool on the top of the pill bottle. Then store updide down. If your very dexterious the steel wool can be glued in the bottom of the bottle, but I am lazy and use the easy method. My older home in the middle of a field is rather dusty, so I like to keep items covered. I have 1 large pin cushion that some pins of each type are kept in. I just remember which are which. Dont know why I never thought of using different pin cushions.

  7. as I read this I thought thank you thank you thank you and why didn’t think of it and could you come organize my whole sewing room because I bet you’d have some really. good ideas. these kinds of tips not only help keep your sewing room tidy but also make it more efficient when you only have a little bits of time to dedicate to your projects. Thanks so much.

    1. I have a set of shelves in my sewing room where I have a basket just for pin cushions with all my different pins. Always organized and available.

      1. Another great idea I cd just make a cover for this basket to keep dust out and free up limited drawer space. Thank you, I just love useful tips that I shd’ve thought of myself.LOL.? Come on over, youre hired to help organize my small sewing room/and way too much stuff.

  8. Thank you. I need some organization for my sewing notions. These ideas help if I can just act on it.

  9. Thank you! Seriously! Who hasn’t knocked their pin box on the floor! Love these ideas, especially the magnetic one.

  10. i loved your ideas. I have used many of the suggestions from your post, maybe from this that you posted before. My problem is that I have dropped too many boxes of pins and have a very large quantity mixed up. How do I identify which pin is which?

  11. Your tip on sewing machine needles is great. I never know how to separate new ones from the old, but still usable ones. Now, rather than putting back in the case, I’ll use the tomato. Thank you.

  12. Can I separate all my pins by the ,”top color, or style of design” and know which type of pin they are?

  13. An eye opener. Thanks so much for all the useful information, I really appreciate it. I won’t be tossing sewing machine needles out after one use. I normally put them in a pin cushion, then forget about them. Months later I don’t remember what I did, so I toss them. No more!

  14. This was a very helpful post. I keep my pins separated by purpose, but my machine needles (barely used) tend to get mixed back into the not yet used container or tossed because I can’t remember what the specific needle is. I am picking up a tomato pin cushion ASAP and getting my machine needles sorted and kept useable. Thanks

  15. I use magnetic pin holders. I take the time to have all the heads in one direction, this keeps me from getting stuck (blood)on things. I like the idea of the machine needles in a pin cushion.

  16. What a blessing this article was to me! Somehow the age/used time of pins also could be a consideration, for some of my pins have been in use for decades and are not very sharp. I’m of a mind to toss out most all of them and get new pins and organize in ways like yours. It is scary to think that a pin, put to the wrong intended use, could damage something I make!! Thank you for bringing this topic into focus.

  17. Great post! I’m inclined to also throw out all my pins and start over with a system like yours.
    I keep the case for my current machine needle right in the small attached accessory holder of the machine. That way, I always know what type of needle I have in my machine. In the past, I’ve put a lightly-used machine needle back into the case, but I think maybe your “sectioned & labeled tomato” idea is better.

  18. Leslie, do you know if same type and sź machine needles but from different companies (Singer, Kenmore, Shmetz, etc) are different or the same? Can they be used in different brand machines ? Thank you for any help.

  19. Fun fact: Singer makes a pink tomato-shaped pincushion specifically for machine needles. Each segment is meant for a different size/type of needle, and there are also lines around the circumference of the cushion for noting how may hours of sewing the needle has done. I’ve been using it for years now, and it’s pretty handy. I don’t have to wonder when to throw out my needle anymore.

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