The right patchwork pins

I think most quilters understand and subscribe to the concept of opposing seams in their patchwork. Creating opposing seams

  • evenly distributes the bulk of your seam allowances
  • facilitates the matching of seam intersections

Pinning enhances your chances of achieving accurately matched seams, but, as I learned the hard way, only with the right pins!

After piecing a top for Eric

Eric's top

with 81 blocks and hundreds of seams to match, I was desperate to improve my seam matching ability. I found the book Mastering Machine Piecing by Sally Collins (C&T Publishing) and took her recommendation for the two types of pins to use:

Clover pins

IBC pins

Both types of pins are now sewing room staples, but the IBC .5 mm silk pins are my secret weapon for achieving matched seams.

When making Eric’s top, I used these pins:

bad pin

They are big, chunky and not at all suitable for detail work like matching little ¼” seams. The ball heads are so big, the pin can’t lie flat on the sewing machine bed (notice the gap between the head and table):

bad pin space

I suspect this causes some distortion as the fabric area with the pin approaches the needle of the machine.

Whatever the reason, these pins failed the task of helping to keep opposing seams butted together and resulted in me having to pick out plenty of stitches and re-do lots of mismatched seams.

Now I use the Clover pins to secure patches together

These pins work great for pinning long seams like rows and borders.

These pins work great for pinning long seams like rows and borders.

but insert the IBC pins at intersections:

These pins are super fine and have a tiny head, allowing them to lie flat on the machine bed, creating minimal distortion in the fabric layers.

These pins are super fine and have a tiny head, allowing them to lie flat on the machine bed, creating minimal distortion in the fabric layers.

My rate of successfully matched seams has increased dramatically.

pins in CM block

Here’s a photo of all three so you can see the difference in their sizes:

3 pins

You wouldn’t think something as simple as a straight pin could make such a huge difference, but it does.

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3 Comments

Filed under miscellaneous

3 responses to “The right patchwork pins

  1. Rhonda

    I have the silk pins too and I love them. I would not piece with anything else. Oh, and I always use straight ones – bent ones go in the trash.  The pins with the colorful heads are just cute and only useful in a craft project but never for piecing. Great tips as always.

  2. What? You don’t like my semi-bent pins? I’m so hurt!

  3. Rhonda

    Semi-bent…those things were almost 90°. 🙂

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