a straight answer about straight pins

a straight answer about straight pins

By Patricia Belyea

SEATTLE WA   The Supply List for my Doodle Piecing Workshop includes "fine pins" as one of the things to bring. What does that mean? Students have arrived with pins as fine as butterfly antennae and pins as chunky as little nails.

When I was at Quilt Market in St. Louis this May, I asked Veronica of Clover Notions what would be the best pin for my workshop. I had three criteria—fine enough to sew over, not too long so the pins don't pop out when sewing on a curve, and strong enough to not bend easily.

To answer my question, Veronica sent me packages with every kind of straight pin that Clover makes. That way I could try them all out!

Here is what I learned through my testing experience:

1 Flower Head Pins—Red
20 pins per card, $3.95
100 pins per clear plastic box, $12.50

Fine Flower Head Pins—Blue
20 pins per card, $4.75

I have always enjoyed using Flower Head Pins. They make sewing more fun. Both of these pins are 1.5" long but the red ones are noticeably sturdier than the blue ones: .55mm diameter versus .45mm. Both are just the right size for pinning two quilting fabrics together, with the blue ones designed for lighter weight fabrics. Note that the ABS resin heads will melt if an iron is applied directly to the pins.

2 Quilting Pins
100 pins per clear plastic box, $9.50

These pins are long—a whopping 1 13/16" with samurai-sharp points. And heavy-duty with a .60mm diameter. They are excellent for multi-layered quilt projects. Stainless steel with glass heads, they can take the heat of an iron.

3 Fine Quilting Pins
100 pins per clear plastic box, $11.50

Also 1 13/16" with ultra-sharp points, these Fine Quilting Pins are .50mm in diameter. Perfect for pinning a quilt sandwich, the glass-topped, stainless-steel pins can be ironed. If they share a pin cushion with regular Quilting Pins, think "translucent" when you want to grab a fine pin.

4 Patchwork Pins
100 pins per snap-close plastic box, $7.15

A handy 1 5/16" long and .50mm in diameter, these pins feature a stainless-steel needle and a super-sharp tip. The glass head is heat-proof so you can confidently iron over the pins.

5 Fine Patchwork Pins
100 pins per snap-close plastic box, $8.50

Extra-fine at .40mm in diameter, these 1 5/16" long pins pass smoothly through cloth. The stainless-steel needle and glass head are rust-proof and ironing-proof.

6 Silk Pins
100 pins per clear plastic box, $5.75

As you can imagine, Silk Pins are fine—with a .50mm diameter. These pins are excellent for lightweight fabrics and will not leave marks. The needle is made of stainless steel and and the glass bead top of ironing-proof glass.

7 Appliqué Pins
150 pins per snap-close plastic box, $6.75

What a joy! These short pins, 3/4" long, hold tiny pieces in place when working on an appliqué project. Sharp and glass-topped, Appliqué Pins are quick to see with their bright white heads. And impossible to bend with a .60mm diameter.

That's the line-up of Clover pins.

What’s the answer to my question? Number One for pinning on curves: Fine Patchwork Pins. Second choice: Fine Flower Head Pins (blue). Also a favorite: Silk Pins.

What about you? Do you have use different pins for different tasks? Do you have a favorite pin for your quilting projects? Any recommendations for others?

To buy Clover pins, check out your local fabric store. To buy Clover pins online, +click here

Okan Arts was not compensated for this article except for the gift of pins from Veronica.


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23 comments


  • Patricia Belyea
    Amy—I learned a lot when I researched pins for that blog post. When I started as a quilter, I had no idea there was more than one kind of pin. Now I am a bit of a pin snob. Gotta have the right pin! PB

  • AmyInNH
    Thanks for your post. My pins were getting damaged, by the iron getting too close. I didn’t know they made glass head pins – it’s been that long since I shopped for any.

    Again, thanks!


  • Patricia Belyea
    That sounds great. P.

  • Karen Krueger
    I will bring some fork pins to October Yukata retreat in LaConner for you to try.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Angela—Let me know how you do with the blue flower pins. Best, PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Pat—Where do you get your entomology pins (usually used for pinning insects!)? Thanks for recommendation. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Thanks Karen! I was not sent those pins but saw them on the website. I’ll have to try them. PB

  • Karen Krueger
    My favorite pins for curves and matching seams are Fork Pins by Clover (Article #240). They are .56 in diameter and come 35 per small box. Try them! You will like them!

  • Pat
    My favorite pins are size 2 black entomology pins. The are sharp, and so skinny, that is doesn’t matter all that much if I accidentally sew over one. They are great for fine fabrics as well as regular cottons.

  • mzjohansen
    My favorites are the extra fine .40. For me, they are a delight. I also use the flower head pins for something with a bit more heft…I like the length and they are so sharp …go through anything just about! I did not realize the difference in the head color…great to know, I do also use the shorty appliqué pins as well, I love pins…and have always enjoyed experimenting by trying “new to me” styles and brands.

    I took me a long time to find a hand sewing needle that was strong enough and thin enough as well as having a relatively large eye….to suit my tastes…it was a revelation to discover Clover Black Gold hand sewing needles…. (I use several sizes). Tulip’s had been my “go to” hand sewing needle brand until I found these Clovers. I have always been a Clover product fan!


  • Angela J Short
    Thank you and Clover for the info!! I recently purchased the flower head pins, blue I believe, and I am looking forward to trying them out. The applique pins seem awesome, I will have to look for those. Thanks again! Have a great day!!

  • Patricia Belyea
    You’re welcome Kae. Hope it helps in your quilting journey! PB

  • Katrine Eagling
    Thanks Patricia for the great pin information!

  • Patricia Belyea
    Thanks for reading, Lady. I learned a lot too. Sometimes local stores don’t have a big selection of pins so it’s difficult to know about all the pins available. PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Laura—Thanks for the affirmation that you like my choice of pins too! PB

  • Patricia Belyea
    Marilyn—I think it is a little eye-opening to see that there is such a variety of pins out there to help us create great projects! PB

  • Lady
    Wonderful research! Thank you so much for all the information, I learn a lot!!!

  • marilynpwaitempwstudiosMarilyn wa
    Thank you for sharing your research! Now I can match project with pin maybe!!!

  • Laura Tawney
    I absolutely love the Fine Patchwork Pins and I’m able to sew over them! Especially when trying to match seams it’s easier to sew over the pins. I always have a box or two on hand and like to give them as gifts. I also like the flower head pins and will have to try the blue ones and give that a try. My next favorites are the appliqué pins and they are great when needing to hold small pieces in place. Great article and reference.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Robin—There are lots of reasons of why not to sew over pins: the danger of the needle breaking and a tip flying into your eye, your machine getting out of adjustment, and sometimes a straight line of sewing gets a little wiggle when you sew over a pin. All the same, when I am sewing two pieces of fabric to make a custom curve, I have to secure them. So I sew over pins! PB

  • Robin Shilman
    I have never used different pins for different projects. I guess I had never read up on it before. I use a long quilting pin with a glass head. I have bent my sewing machine needle when hitting it straight on so now I just remove them when I get. Interesting information and thanks for sharing. I will look into some alternative pins for other projects.

  • Patricia Belyea
    Janet—I agree with the never-ending quest. There are other manufacturers and other pins to discover as well! I’m just thankful that manufacturers are still willing to make pins. Not many folks need them these days. Just us quilters and sewists. PB

  • Janet Wright
    Interesting—-I was just in the middle of reading your Facebook page when you blog post on pins came in. I must admit that I am still confused about pins. I do like the flower head ones—the finer ones best right now. The fine quilting pins- are great also. They were a present from a quilting friend of mine. It seems like a never ending quest.

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