This or That : how do you pin your seams?

I always mention to my students that some techniques are a personal choice. There isn’t the right or wrong way. Just the way you feel the most confident or comfortable.
Some people don’t pin at all (I’m getting to that stage, I’m afraid) but I learned to pin horizontally on the seam allowance as guide. If you pin horizontally, always pin towards you so that the pins will be on the right side for sewing.
Pinning vertically is perfect to anchor fabric in place, so they don’t move. I use to match all my seams, notched etc. So my pining is a mix of horizontal, vertical and big gaps without pins.
How about you? What is your preferred method? What technique did you learned first?
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  • I pin about halfway in between that, pinning on the diagonal. I’m self taught so have the habit of pinning horizontally but find I get better results pinning more vertically (which takes more effort for some reason – habits always do to change!). But I find pinning diagonally as quick and easy with the benefits of the vertical pin.

  • Since I took the express sewing class on craftsy I am pining less and less ! Tend to pin both ways on importat matching points, such as at side seams at the waist. And when I use slippery fabrics. Otherwise not find it faster not to pin at all.

  • Sometimes I alternate – one vertically, the next horizontally, and so on – especially if it is a slippery fabric. This seems to hold the fabric in place better for me.

  • I’m a vertical pinner 😉 or not at all. I use my clover wonder clips a lot too because I sew with a lot of knits.

  • I used to pin mine horizontally, but I hated how it made the fabric bunch up a little and it made it harder to line things up. Now I pin vertically, if I do pin – like you, I don’t do it so much these days, only if I’m working with slippery fabrics or easing in sleeves!

  • I pin straight long seams vertically before tacking or to sew straight over pins. When I’m setting in a sleeve I pin horizontally so I can check how the sleeve falls before tacking and sewing it.

  • It depends on what I’m working on. In bramaking, I don’t pin at all; I use my hand as a guide. Most of the seams on a bra are contrasting curves. When pinning a concave to a convex curve, you pull one layer in the direction of another, and this causes it to stretch. But when fitting a muslin, I pin parallel to the seamline, and double pierce the fabric with each pin because it’s stronger and usually won’t piece my skin as I try it on.

  • I pin vertically because sometimes I don’t pull them when they get under the sewing feet (bad habit!). I don’t like to use lots of pins and usually just pin on the notched area 🙂

  • I use both methods, too. Like you, I pin perpendicular to the seam when I need to match something or am stitching gathers to a bodice or something, but I pin parallel to the seam when I’m just sewing regular stuff.

  • Ann

    I pin vertically because, as you said, it holds the fabric in place more reliably. Also, it is possible (although not recommended) to sew over vertical pins, but not horizontal ones. Additionally, I place pins on the diagonal at corners to help me judge where to pivot at corners.

  • I pin vertically. I used to pin horizontally because it made sense to me when I was starting out, but I find that vertically allows for more accurate sewing (plus I don’t impale my finger on a pin as often).

  • I pin both ways deppending what I am sewing

  • I was taught to pin horizontally, but never really warmed up to it. Now I pin vertically because I like to sew over my needles. With the exception of very slippery or sheer fabrics like chiffon, etc. Here I pin in a mix, always one pin vertical and one pin horizontal.

  • If I pin (try to avoid it as much as possible!), it is vertical for the sewing machine and horizontal for serger. How’s that for covering my bases? 😉

  • I pin vertically as I learnt to quilt first! in quilting pinning is essential. I also learnt to match seams perfectly by “locking”them !

  • “So my pining is a mix of horizontal, vertical and big gaps without pins.” That made me smile.
    I second that! I followed the “sew better, sew faster” class on Craftsy a while ago and not using pins saves so much time! I must admit that I use pins when I feel insecure about a certain seam or area. If that’s the case I pin vertically. When I insert zips, I always pin horizontally.

  • I pin vertically because I’m naughty and sew over my pins. I read somewhere that that was ok because the needle can just slip over the pins, but yea, I don’t often sew without pins except for straight lines. A craftsy course shows you the way to hold the fabric so that it doesn’t slip whilst you sew which does help 🙂

  • Normally, I do it horizontally, but if it is a thicker fabric, I do it vertically!

  • I’m dropping the pins in some instances. I’m not sure if that’s getting a bit too arrogant or just the parts where I know I can save a little precious time..

  • I do a mix, both vertical and horizontal, although I seem to prefer the horizontal more nowadays.

    I also like the option to skip pinning, but then one needs to be careful with holding fabric so the bottom layer doesn’t ease into the top layer. I use a trick I picked up on this “industry secrets” craftsy class, where the teacher says to form a 90 degree angle upwards with fabric, about 5-7 inches away from the needle position (basically rather than hold fabric flat, keep it up like an L-shape.

  • I tend to use Clover Wonder clips instead of pins now – they hold very securely and leave no holes.

  • I’m in Fashion School and we are taught to pin vertically at all times.

  • I’ve always pinned horizontally, but worry I’m doing it ‘wrong’ because so many good tutorials show their pinning vertically!

  • For me it’s: “normal” sewing machine = perpendicular to the fabric-edge, for “overlocker/serger” = it’s parallel to the fabric edge (and far from the overlocker presser-foot + blade!!)

  • I learned to pin like you, but a while back I read a blog post talking about the downsides to pinning, so now I rarely pin anything at all (even zippers!)

  • Anonymous

    Method of pinning depends on reaction of fabric. Swimwear, and linen both forgive pinholes… and so are pinned horizontally. Fabrics whose wounds never heal, well, they get in seam allowance pins. (and not too many)
    Mary in Thailand

  • I pin perpendicular to the seam taking only the smallest bite of fabric – ie: pin basting. That way, if I miss a pin and run over it with my sewing machine it can wiggle out of the way even with a direct strike from the needle. I also pin as little as possible – really just where there are notches or other things that need to be aligned.

  • Ali

    I started off pinning vertically, but have moved to no pins.

  • I pin both vertically and horizontally depending upon what I’m working on. If I’m using my serger I’ve learned to always pin horizontally a good ways away from the seam so I don’t run over a pin. I once ran over a pin TWICE because I was pinning vertically. Doh! I’ll never do that again.

  • I’m like you, exactly! I’m a mixture of both, but lately, I haven’t been using pins at all. Both because that’s how I’ve been taught, but also because it’s faster

  • Horizontally…well, depending on the fabric I´d add some vertical pins too. Not pinning at all scares me too much!

  • Interesting question! I use a mix of both parallel and perpendicular to the fabric/seam edge. I’m using fewer pins now than when I started but I think I’m still a long way from being pin-free!

  • The first way I learned is vertically and I usually pin vertically, but sometimes I pin sort of diagonally, especially if I am pinning something like a binding on a curve.

  • I usually pin vertically, unless I am using my serger. When pinning vertically, I try to remove the pins as I am sewing, as fast as I can… Ha! Many bent pins and a few broken needles…me against the machine 🙂

  • I started off horizontal, then when I was in college I was told to pin vertically so I mainly do that, sometimes I’ll do a mix and I’m also getting better at not using any.

    Interestingly a friend who studied fashion design at uni was told to always pin diagonally?! – something to do with less stress on the grain?

  • I pin vertically for most things cos that how I was taught but find it easier to pin horizontally when I’m sewing a hem – definitely wobbles less which means less swearing!

  • I pin both ways, but mostly vertically. I have a terrible habit of leaving pins in and sewing over them but I always pin horizontally on hems.

  • Vertically 🙂