Can You Sew Over Pins? To Pin or Not to Pin?

Last Updated on August 15, 2023

Unravel the sewing mystery: “Can You Sew Over Pins? If you’re a beginner in sewing, you’ve likely encountered the seemingly straightforward task of pinning fabric. After all, what could be complicated about inserting a pin through cloth, right?

Well, as many sewists can attest, pinning is a skill that requires finesse, technique, and a good amount of practice. You’re not alone if you’ve ever struggled with getting that pin through the fabric or wondered about the right pinning direction.

Sewing over pins is a topic that often sparks debates among sewers. Some staunchly believe in never sewing over pins, while others have embraced the technique as a time-saving measure.  

Can you sew over pins?

Sewing over pins is a debated topic among sewers. While some opt to sew over pins for efficiency, avoiding it with large or decorative pins is safer. Smaller, finer pins, like satin pins, are better suited for sewing over.

But Yes! You can sew over pins, but it’s important to consider the direction you’re pinning. Lengthwise pins offer a sewing guide but must be removed before sewing, while crosswise pins can be sewn over, aiding beginners.

Strategic pin placement, such as angling pins or using shorter ones, can help streamline the process.

Here, we’ll delve into the full process of intricacies of sewing over pins, explore different types of pins, and provide tips on effective pin placement to make your sewing experience smoother and more enjoyable.

Pinning Process: It’s All About Tension

Pinning Process
Image Source: Evelyn Wood

For beginners, the most challenging part of pinning often lies in accurately getting the fabric onto your pattern. The key to successful pinning is maintaining tension on the fabric. If you try to pin while the fabric is loose, you’re likely to encounter difficulties.

To overcome this, create tension by stabilizing the fabric on both sides. One hand stabilizes the fabric on one side while the other hand places the pin. Gently slide the pin down along a surface, then lift it slightly to create a ridge that allows the pin to pass through smoothly.

Pinning Directions: Lengthwise and Crosswise

There are two primary directions for pinning fabric: lengthwise and crosswise. Each has its own advantages and considerations.

  • Lengthwise Pinning: This involves placing pins along the length of the fabric parallel to the seam edge. The benefit of lengthwise pinning is that it serves as a sewing guide, helping you maintain a straight seam. However, you cannot sew over these pins, as they can break your needle.
  • Crosswise Pinning: Crosswise pinning entails inserting pins perpendicular to the seam edge. This direction allows you to sew over the pins, which can be helpful for beginners who need extra assistance in keeping fabric layers in place. However, crosswise pins may extend beyond the stitch line and leave unwanted holes in your garment.

Which Direction to Choose? The Lengthwise vs. Crosswise Dilemma

The choice between lengthwise and crosswise pinning depends on your personal preference and the requirements of your project.

Lengthwise pinning offers a guide for sewing and ensures minimal pin marks on your fabric. It’s beneficial for maintaining straight seams and preventing distortion. However, you must remove the pins before sewing over them, which can be time-consuming.

On the other hand, crosswise pinning allows you to sew over the pins, making it ideal for those who need more confidence in their sewing skills. This direction provides additional stability during sewing but may require more pins and could result in visible holes in the garment.

Pin Quantity: Less Can Be More

SINGER 07051 Pearlized Head Straight Pins

  • Set of 120 pearl head pins
  • Used in crafting, sewing
  • Made of nickel-plated steel for rust resistance
  • Pearlized heads for simplicity
  • Size 24 – 1 ½ inch

As you gain experience, you’ll discover that you need fewer pins than you initially thought. Experienced sewists often rely on their ability to manipulate fabric while sewing, reducing the need for excessive pinning. As you become more skilled, you’ll use fewer pins and rely on your hands and sewing machine to guide the fabric.

Video: How to Pin Fabric for Sewing? -2 ways to pin fabric plus my method!

Different Pin Types

Pins come in various shapes, sizes, and materials to suit different sewing projects. Let’s take a closer look at some of these pin types:

  • Easy Grasp Pins: These pins feature a large rubber head, making them ideal for individuals with dexterity challenges. They are easy to pick up and handle, but due to their bulky heads, it’s advisable to avoid sewing over them.

Dritz 135-40 Easy Grasp Pins

Dritz 135-40 Easy Grasp Pins
  • Elongated ball heads with indented bases
  • Perfect for seasoned sewists
  • Great for sewing, quilting and craft projects
  • Easy pin removal
  • Size 24 (1-1/2″), nickel-plated steel
  • Decorative Pins: Pins with large decorative heads, such as buttons or intricate designs, should generally be avoided when sewing. Their bulkiness increases the risk of accidentally stitching over them, potentially damaging your fabric or needle.

Pin Options for Sewing Over

When it comes to sewing over pins, the rule of thumb is to opt for smaller, finer pins. Satin pins and fine pins, characterized by their thinness and lack of a bulky head, are prime candidates for sewing over.

  • Satin Pins: Characterized by their thinness and lack of a bulky head, satin pins are suitable for sewing over. They offer a higher chance of success when sewing at a moderate pace.

Dritz 75 Satin Pins

Dritz 75 Satin Pins
  • Use for delicate and lightweight fabrics
  • Extra-fine 0.5mm shaft
  • Nickel-Plated Steel
  • Reusable plastic storage box
  • Package contains (400) 1-1/16″ satin pins
  • Fine Pins: Similar to satin pins, fine pins are delicate and thin. Their unobtrusive design reduces the likelihood of interference with your sewing machine’s needle.

Their delicate structure reduces the likelihood of them interfering with your sewing machine’s needle and causing mishaps. While sewing over pins is a personal preference, these pins offer a higher chance of success.

Consider Pointed Pins for Special Fabrics

Ballpoint pins, designed to navigate between fabric fibers without piercing them, are particularly suitable for stretchy fabrics like polyester. These pins minimize the risk of creating holes and ensure a clean stitch line. However, due to their slightly thicker build, it’s advisable to avoid sewing over them to prevent potential breakage or needle damage.

Strategic Pin Placement

Proper pin placement is key to successful sewing over pins. Follow these guidelines for strategic pin placement:

  • Angled Placement: Angle pins so their heads hang off the fabric’s edge. This keeps the tips of the pins within the fabric’s seam allowance, making removal easier without disrupting your stitching flow.
  • Shorter Pins: Use shorter pins, such as applique or sequin pins, for uninterrupted sewing. Position them further away from your stitching path to sew right up to them without needing removal.

Shorter Pins for Convenience

For those who aim to sew over pins without interruption, consider using shorter pins like applique pins or sequin pins. These pins, which are shorter than regular ones, can be strategically positioned further away from your stitching path.

This allows you to sew right up to them without the need to remove them, making the process smoother and more efficient.

Adapt to Your Project

While sewing over pins can be advantageous in certain scenarios, it’s important to consider your project’s specific requirements.

  • Flat Fabric Pieces: Sewing over pins works well for flat fabric pieces like pillowcases, as they allow for greater flexibility in pin placement.
  • Curved or Intricate Patterns: When working with curved or intricate patterns, opt to remove pins to ensure precision in your stitching.

However, it may be wiser to remove pins to ensure precision when working with curved or intricate patterns.


Whether you’re a staunch advocate for never sewing over pins or a fan of the time-saving technique, understanding the types of pins, their characteristics, and strategic pin placement can greatly enhance your sewing experience.

Choosing the right pins and adjusting your approach based on your project’s needs will enable you to tackle your next sewing endeavor with confidence and finesse. Remember, sewing is a creative and versatile craft—so feel free to explore and find what works best for you!

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