Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back to basics: "Rhea's fancy-schmancy pinning tutorial"

(That is the official title.)

Before we begin, let me preface this whole post by saying that there are lots of different ways to pin, and no one way is "right" or "wrong." Certainly there are times when extra-special pinning is called for, but the following is my way of getting the down and dirty, everyday pinning done.

This is excerpted and adapted from my Virtual Turning Twenty class, but fits most any project. Hope it is helpful to you, too!

Now, the whole point of pinning is to temporarily hold your fabrics together in the same way that the stitching will eventually hold everything together.
Pinning is not my most favorite thing to do, but I still like it better than cutting (ugh, cutting... you all know how I hate to cut!). Point is, there are times when you have to pin: there's just no getting around it. And as much as pinning might not be my favorite part of quilting, it's much, much better than finding a "gone" place in your stitching and having to go back and re-stitch. Might as well do things right the first time, don't you think?

When quilting, you are normally stitching with a 1/4" seam allowance, so I am going to place all of my pins approximately 1/4" away from the raw edge of my fabrics. If I was stitching with a 5/8" seam allowance, I would place my pins 5/8" away from the raw edge.

I also like to put my pins in parallel to the raw edge (just like the stitching will eventually be parallel to the raw edge).

I also like to weave the point of my pin in and out of the fabric a few times (if you just put it in once, the fabric can pivot around the pin and wiggle and doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of pinning? I mean, if we're going to do this let's DO THIS!)

I also like to think ahead and imagine the direction in which I will be sewing and place the point of the pin so that, as it travels up to the foot of the machine, I will be pulling the pin out towards myself instead of trying to pull it out towards the presser foot.


(If that last step has left you scratching your head, the next couple of photos should clear things up for you, so just file that sentence away and keep on chugging with me...)

Here's a photo of how I like my pins to be placed:

There are three pins along the top edge of the fabric in this photo: they are my favorite flat flower pins and they are long and sharp with a nice big flower head that's easy to see and easy to pull out. They're great for quilting when you want a nice long pin, and usually great for garment stitching, too. There are times when a nice long pin is called for and times when a shorter, daintier pin is called for.

I always put the "middle" pin of a section in first, then place the pins on the left and right-hand sides of the fabric.
That way, any excess fabric is distributed evenly to both ends of the section.

See how these pins are parallel to the fabrics' raw edge and woven in and out a couple of times?

Here's a close-up:

As I am sewing, because I have placed the pin with the pointy part pointing away from me, I can pull the pins out as I go by pulling the pin heads towards me. Trust me, this is much easier than pulling the heads of the pins out towards your presser foot.

True, this can take a little "getting used to," but once you do it a couple of times, you will be able to think ahead and figure out how you should place your pins so you can pull them out towards you as you are sewing (I promise!).

And because I have woven the pin in and out of the fabric at least a couple of times, that sucker's not going anywhere, unless I want it to.

Although there are a few exceptions to this rule, you should always pull your pins out before you stitch over them. I could tell you some doozies about late-night extractions with pliers from where a needle struck a pin, breaking it in two, sending tiny metal pieces deep into the machine.

And worse, I could tell you some doozies about trips to the emergency room where a needle struck a pin, breaking it in two, sending tiny metal pieces deep into someone's eyes and forehead.

The former has happened to me. The latter, thank goodness, has not.

Sometimes when I am sewing my face is right up in the machine, much, much closer than I realize, and I am probably a good candidate for sewing with safety goggles on, but I much prefer to remove a pin before I stitch over it.

Although there are a few exceptions to this rule (like when I am stitching around a curve or setting in a sleeve), that's my personal "pin removal" policy.

And that's how (in my opinion...) you do "everyday" pinning: with nearly all projects.

Hope the fancy-schmancy tutorial was helpful to you: now go forth and pin!




RCA said...

Very good advice on pinning. It's the smallest things that can really make a difference. Thanks, Rhea!

Iris E. said...

Awesome tips, Rhea! Thank you so much! Basics, gotta love 'em. At first I was like, oh snore, pinning, ironing... Well, OK since Rhea put them up there, they must be something good. And I was not disappointed.

I'm onto my 2nd Turning Twenty... Loving it all over again. And I've had some adventures in quilting freedom, of late!


Anonymous said...

Great advice thanks - I almost skipped reading the post - pinning blah blah etc , glad I read it though. No personal injures from stitching over pins but have broken quite a few needles so I now (mostly) remove them. I've never given it much thought as to how to pin - just did it the way my mother showed me. Will try some of your tips next time - thanks

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I actually used to sew with carpentry goggles on. I was always always breaking needles, and one actually bounced off my forehead once, so I thought better safe than sorry. Thankfully, my skills have improved and I don't sew over pins anymore.