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Quilting Pins Vs Sewing Pins: All You Need to Know (2024 Full Guide)

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quilting pins vs sewing pinsYou’ve got the fabric, pattern and machine—now you just need the perfect pins to start quilting! We all know pins are crucial for piecing quilts, but not all pins are created equal. In this guide, you’ll discover the differences between quilting and sewing pins so you can choose what’s best for your project.

We’ll also share pro tips for finding lost pins and keeping your pincushion stocked.

Quilting is more than a hobby—it’s freedom, artistry and community. So let’s dive in and find your new quilting best friends: pins built for your unique style.

Because the best part of quilting is the joy, not the struggle. Grab your favorite mug and get comfy as we explore the wonderful world of quilting pins vs sewing pins!

Key Takeaways

  • Quilting pins tend to have thicker shafts and larger heads for stability when pinning multiple quilt layers.
  • Longer lengths like 1.5-2 inches are useful for quilting to span thicker battings.
  • Ball-point and extra-fine pin points reduce fabric damage on knits and delicate wovens in sewing.
  • Bright pin heads in contrasting colors help track quilting progress and spot pins on busy prints.

Pin Types

Pin Types
Here are the types of pins for quilting and sewing. Whether you’re an avid quilter piecing complex patterns or a beginner sewing garments, having the right pins makes all the difference. Glass head, plastic head, ball-point, and silk pins give you options to choose from, picking ones suited to your project ensures precision and protects fabrics.

Glass Head Pins

You’ll want to pick up some of those slender glass-headed pins to leave your light fabrics barely marked. The skinny, shiny pinheads slide right through layers of fabric without tearing a stitch. Sturdy stainless steel shafts hold steady but bend before they pop any delicate stitching.

Save the heftier quilting pins for heavier fabrics. Those glass pins are just right for keeping barely-there prints perfectly aligned.

Plastic Head Pins

Colorful rounded heads won’t melt on you when ironing those delicate fabrics. Plastic ball-headed pins are perfect for fabrics prone to water-spotting or scorching. Their smooth plastic heads glide over fabrics without snagging delicate threads.

  • Ironing synthetic fabrics like polyester
  • Making kids’ clothing and crafts
  • Sewing with fabrics like silks and satins
  • Wanting extra visibility with bright colors
  • Avoiding glass head scratching on delicate fabrics

The colored plastic balls make it easy to spot them on your project. Grab those plastic head pins when sewing tricky synthetics and delicates.

Ball-Point Pins

You’d snag fewer knits with ball-point pins gliding smoothly through the loops. Their rounded heads gently separate fibers instead of piercing them. Ball-point pins have thicker shafts with softer metal that parts fabric without damaging delicate knits.

Just like a ball-point needle, they’re ideal for heavyweight sweater knits, fleece, jersey, and stretch wovens.

Silk Pins

Don’t you damage delicate silks; grab those slender silk pins.

  • Slide smoothly through sheer fabrics.
  • Thin, strong stainless steel shaft.
  • Fine glass heads in bright colors.

Trust those classic silk pins to flawlessly handle lightweight fabrics without snagging threads. Their extra-slim yet sturdy shaft glides between delicate fabric layers. Choose from a fine selection with shaft thickness and length perfectly suited to your project.

Pin Lengths

Pin Lengths
Pin lengths matter, so grab extras when picking supplies.

Pin Type Length Use Case
Sewing Pins 1 to 1 1/4 inches General garment sewing, piecing quilt blocks
Silk Pins 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches Delicate fabrics like silk, chiffon, lace
Quilting Pins 1 1/2 to 2 inches Pinning quilt sandwich layers
Applique Pins 1/2 to 3/4 inches Precision curves, small pieces
T-Pins 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches Pinning patterns or fabric to mats

Having pins in an assortment of lengths expands your sewing capabilities. Short pins, like 1-inch sewing pins, give you control for constructing garments, sewing thick seams, and piecing standard cotton quilt blocks.

Medium 1 1/4-inch pins work for most sewing tasks. Longer 1 1/2 to 2-inch quilting pins are crucial for keeping quilt layers aligned during machine or hand quilting. Consider stocking up on various lengths so you always have the right pin for the project at hand.

As your skills progress, add specialty pins, like silk and applique pins, to your arsenal.

Pin Heads

Pin Heads
When choosing pins for your next quilting or sewing project, consider the differences between standard sewing pins and specialty quilting pins. Quilting pins are designed with brightly colored heads for high visibility on fabric.

They also often have plastic heads that will not melt under the heat of an iron like traditional glass-headed sewing pins.

Bright Colors for Quilting

Colorful pinheads grab your eye when quilting layers together. Brightly colored pin tops help track quilting progress as you stitch rows. Push a red pin after completing one direction, then switch to blue for the perpendicular rows.

Quilting pins with yellow, green, or rainbow heads add flair while organizing the quilting process. Their long shafts keep the batting, backing, and quilt top perfectly aligned. Sturdy steel pins won’t bend while holding the thick sandwich.

Colored pinheads also prevent losing pins among fabric prints. The vibrant hues pop against fabrics so they’re easy to spot when removing.

Opt for straight pins with fun colors to lend brightness to your quilting as you securely join the layers.

Glass Won’t Melt

You’d appreciate traditional glass heads won’t melt under a hot iron while seam-stitching. Unlike plastic, glass pinheads won’t deform when pressing hems, appliques, bindings. Sturdy glass allows high heat on heavy home décor fabrics or synthetics without compromising your pin stash.

However, plastic ball heads suit lighter cottons and woven blends. Reserve those for piecing quilts, garments, accessories.

For both types, keep pins nearby in a magnetic tray or vintage tomato pincushion. Quick access prevents searching when fingers are busy creating. Whichever pins you prefer, appreciate their service.

Pin Shafts

Pin Shafts
Their long, strong shafts’ll pin your quilt’s layers while the flexibility suits varied fabrics.

When prepping your next quilting project, don’t underestimate the importance of pin shaft strength and flexibility. Heavyweight nickel-plated steel shafts have the sturdiness to pierce multiple layers of thick fabric like sturdy cottons.

They’ll hold quilt sandwiches together securely as you work. But flexibility is key too, as stiff shafts may damage delicate fabrics or frustrate you when pins won’t bend.

Look for shafts with enough give to curve gently around curves and edges, yet strength to withstand pulling and friction. Thinner, more flexible pins suit lighter fabrics like silks or voiles. Big heads anchor well without excessive bulk.

Test some pin weights and flexibilities on your fabric scraps. Finding the right balance of sturdy and supple for each project’s needs helps ensure frustration-free piecing and smooth quilting. Don’t be afraid to use different pin weights on a mixed fabric quilt. Pick shafts able to handle each section’s fabric and layers without damage.

With the right pins on hand, you can focus on bringing your creative vision to life, not fighting uncooperative tools.

Pin Points

Pin Points
Keep piecing precise with ultra-fine points that’ll pierce fabric cleanly.

Your quilting pins are the unsung heroes that hold your project together. Choose pin points suited to your fabric’s needs:

  • Extra-fine pins glide through lightweight woven with tiny holes.
  • Ball-points avoid snagging knits or tearing bias edges.
  • Sharp points for heavy woven, but be gentle.

Having the right pin points prevents frustration. Curved edges stay smooth, stitches stay straight. Fabric slides on and off cleanly without damage. No frustrating tugs or ugly ragged holes.

With each perfectly placed piercing, your vision takes shape. Points aligning corners just-so for flawless blocks. Guiding curves with gentle care to match seamlessly. Effortless precision thanks to pins that suit the fabric and task at hand.

Pin Materials

Pin Materials
Your project’s layers will stay secure with rust-resistant quilting pins that won’t stain fabrics.

Choose pin materials wisely for your quilt sandwich’s needs:

  • Stainless steel resists rust if accidentally left in project.
  • Nickel plating adds smoothness, avoids snagging.
  • Plastic heads prevent heat damage from ironing.
  • Glass heads have high visibility on all colors.

Steel quilting pins offer strength to pierce layers while remaining flexible. Length gives hold without poking through.

Metal pins last with care. Inspect for rough edges that could tear fabric. Clean in oil regularly to prevent rust. Store upright in a lid to keep dry. Choose pins suited to your fabric and task for smooth sewing success.

Pin Storage

Pin Storage
For convenient pin access while crafting, keep quilting pins and sewing pins stored in magnetic trays and portable pincushions. Stash the sharp tools safely out of the way, but close at hand right on your sewing machine or worktable.

Select sturdy trays with a strong magnet to corral those slippery pins, so they stay tidy and don’t scatter across your workspace. Choose fabric pincushions in fun prints that inspire your projects and perk up your sewing room décor.

With handy pin storage solutions, you can focus on stitching and creating instead of hunting for the needed pin.

Magnetic Trays

Organize your supply of metal sewing accessories real pretty in magnetic trays. They’ll keep your pins and needles all tidied up together in one handy spot. Just reach right on over and grab what ya need without hunting around your sewing room.

Those magnetized trays will hold tight to them metal items so they don’t bounce and scatter every which way. Choose a sturdy one with strong enough magnets to keep your pins upright, like the Zirkel brand trays.

They come in fun colors but still show them silver pins nice and clear. Your pins will line up all organized, ready for plucking as needed for your quilting or sewing project. Then when you’re all finished stitchin’ up something real nice, just plop them back in their magnetic home, no fuss.

Magnetic trays are a great way to organize your metal sewing accessories. They’ll keep your pins and needles together in one spot, so you can easily grab what you need without hunting around your sewing room.

The magnetized trays will hold tight to the metal items so they don’t bounce and scatter. Choose a sturdy tray with strong magnets to keep your pins upright, like the Zirkel brand. They come in fun colors but still show the pins nice and clear. Your pins will line up neatly, ready to grab as needed for your project.

Then just plop them back in their magnetic home when you’re done – no fuss! Keeping your notions organized makes sewing feel smoother than buttery biscuits.


Handy your pincushion so stitches flow freely as tumbling creekwater. Keep that soft cushion within reach as you sew, a trusty companion ready to cradle pins and needles when needed. Tuck your pins in its padded body after piercing fabric; slide between layers to align your quilt sandwich.

Let it hold t-pins when ironing, keep sewing pins poking its surface to grab for basting.

Customize your cushion to suit your style – velvet, wool felt, chic linen. Stitch a cover from fabric scraps or thrift a teacup to fill. However it looks, a pincushion keeps your notions orderly, saving you from frustrating hunts mid-project.

Pin Safety

Pin Safety
Take care not to prick fingers when pushing pins into pincushions. Whether you’re dressmaking, quilting multi-layered masterpieces, or simply hemming trousers, your nimble fingers work closely alongside those thin slivers of steel.

Keep a well-stocked pincushion within easy reach. Press pins in firmly and pay attention to the angle and direction. Make a habit of checking for strays before running hands over fabric or reaching blindly into your sewing box.

Always grasp pins by the flat ends and set them needle-side down in magnetic trays.

Before sitting or leaning on your work, do a quick sweep with your palm. And insist others in your sewing space wear slippers, not bare feet! With mindfulness and care, you can enjoy a prick-free creative experience.

Pins are precise helpers, not hurtful hazards. Respect their points, and they’ll help you produce countless handmade treasures.

Finding Lost Pins

Finding Lost Pins
Trust your intuition when searching for invisible needles in a haystack.

Kneel down and run your hand slowly across the floor, feeling for any pinheads. Check under furniture and rug edges too.

Shine a flashlight across the surface to catch a glint of metal. Sometimes seeing that subtle shine is easier than feeling for them.

Use a magnet on a string to sweep and capture any loose pins. Pass it over the floor and then your work area to collect strays.

Make a habit of vacuuming frequently to pick up dropped pins. They get tangled in the brush roll where you can later cut them out.

Gently shake out your in-progress quilting before washing. Pins hidden in the layers can damage your machine or scratch you.

Lost pins always turn up somehow! Stay focused during your search and trust your senses. Running hands across the floor feels silly but it’s effective. And it makes for a good story later – Remember when I army crawled looking for pins? The time spent will save you from future pricked fingers.

Appreciating Your Pins

Appreciating Your Pins
Precious pins, you’re the silent heroes holdin’ our projects together through thick ‘n thin.

Whether you’re a tried ‘n true straight pin or a fancy specialty pin, we couldn’t create without you. You pierce layers of fabric so gently, leavin’ the tiniest of holes that disappear once removed.

You align pieces perfectly so we can stitch an accurate seam allowance. You tack fabric in place and hold patterns steady as we cut. Dressmakers would be lost without your assistance in fittin’ garments. Oh, and don’t get me started on what chaos quilting would be without you! You’re the key to keepin’ layered fabric stable so our machine quilting designs and hand quilting stitches turn out gorgeous.

We know you don’t get the glory of colorful thread or fancy buttons. But stitchers worldwide appreciate you holdin’ everything together with quiet strength. Thanks for all your hard work keepin’ our projects from fallin’ apart! We’ll try not to stick you in the iron or mistakenly sew over you.

You pins support our creativity in so many ways. We’d be a hot mess without you! Here’s to a long life of seamless teamwork together.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I tell when my pins need replacing?

  • Bent, blunted, or rough tip points – these make piercing fabric difficult.
  • Rust spots or tarnished chrome – these can cause snagging.
  • Pins slipping out of fabric easily or failing to grip fabric tightly – the spring tension is diminished.
  • If you find yourself poking fingers more often, it may be time for new pins. Pin performance tends to decline with use, so periodically refreshing your pin stash is a good idea.

What’s the best way to clean and care for my pins?

Wipe your pins down with machine oil periodically to keep them clean and prevent rust. Store them upright in a lid or pincushion to avoid bending. Remember to discard any pins that develop rough edges or stop sliding smoothly through fabric.

Are there any good alternatives I can use instead of pins for some projects?

Clip-style binder clips are perfect for lightweight fabrics. Wonder clips grip tightly and pop open for reuse. Washable disappearing glue sticks temporarily hold pieces. Paper clips or recycled plastic work for paper crafts.

What are some creative ways I could repurpose my old pins?

You could use them for crafts, like attaching beads, buttons, or sequins. Make a mini collage by pinning scrap fabric, photos, or artwork to a board. Turn them into jewelry, such as earrings or brooches. Or get crafty and hammer the pins to make sculptures, wind chimes, or a unique mobile.

Are there any good tips for helping my pins last longer before needing replacement?

Dream of an organizer that brings joy! But first, use pins in layers’ dance, moving through fabric with a gentle hand.


As you sail the fabric seas, don’t rely on just any old pins to keep your quilt layers from billowing. Seek out pins suited to the unique needs of your quilting voyage. Whether you prefer the trusted glass heads of sewing pins or opt for the bright beacons of quilting pins to light your way through layers, let your project guide you.

For smooth sailing across the seas of quilting versus sewing, choose your pins wisely.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.