…. that is the question.
As I learned to sew years ago, pinning was a MUST. I couldn’t stitch a thing w/o pinning. As I advanced I’ve noticed I rarely use pins anymore. The following is nothing scientific or researched. This is my personal journey, thoughts and common sense.
Let’s talk about common sewing. In general, you have two pieces of material that will go under the needle. Assuming all sewing machines have a feed dog, presser foot and needle, your machine will be stitching through both layers (or multiple if that is the case). It’s important that the fabric is where it needs to be when it hits the needle. Which is why we pin, so they keep that rascally thing in place!
My journey may be different, the same or have similar qualities as yours. For me, I just want to get to that point of actually sewing. Which brought me to my first change: ditching the rotary (and that is another article all together found here). The second change: ditching the pins. And this brings us to why. This is not something I put much thought into until I joined a few Facebook pages and the questions began about this and that causing me to stop and think about the answer. One of them was about pins. I admit I did not post a reply, but it still left me with the question: Why did I stop using pins for the most part?
So here it is. When using a paper or PDF pattern there are all kind of elements put into place to ensure you don’t foil the whole thing. The instruction page obviously, but I’m talking about the famous markings on the pattern itself, i.e. notches, fold lines, ease dashes, etc. Patterns are designed with the home sewer in mind and they are perfect! Once I’ve cut the pattern the fabric lines up… yup…perfectly! To save time – because I’m all about speed – I had started ditching the pins at the shoulder seams, side seams (on shirts, skirts and pants), and other seams that matched up…perfectly!
My left hand holds the fabric as it guides it through the needle and my right hand holds the bottom fabric guiding the fabric to the needle. If you have a knee foot drop that is handy I’m sure, but I don’t. I get the fabric under the needle and drop the needle. My machine will allow me to do that. In other words, I do not have to drop the presser foot to drop the needle. When the needle is in the initial little bit of fabric, I get the fabric at the presser foot situated and voila, I drop the presser foot. Once that is done, then I use my foot peddle to run the machine, using my hands to keep the fabric lined up.
This is a Set-In Sleeve with knit fabric. Here I have matched up seams under the arm and at the top of the shoulder. I manipulate the fabric as I go and that’s it!
I was once told years ago by a highly successful seamstress that the farther out (or towards YOU) the seam is lined up with the machine, it will be on track to sew the seam at the proper seam width when it hits the needle. Which in essence means that my left is holding it directly to the left of the needle and right hands are working the fabric about a foot out from the needle, getting it lined up (notches matched up, etc) and ready to hit the needle. This may or may not require stops and starts with the foot peddle. Fabric type has a lot to do with whether or not I start/stop along the way.
Before I thought about writing this, I to really think about why I do and don’t pin and how I maneuver fabric since I don’t put much thought into why I’m doing what I’m doing, I just do it! I know that I haven’t used pins for a long time on those straight perfectly matching seams and it’s just been recently that I’ve found myself ditching the pins for the more ‘complicated’ areas such as arm curves, necklines, and patterns I’ve hand drawn out. I manipulate the fabric much closer to the presser foot for these types of situations, but doing so w/o the pins. I think beyond the straight/matching seams the next phase of ditching the pins is all about you willing to giving it a try.
It’s important to note on closing that I DO pin squirrelly fabrics. You know the ones…silk, satin, chiffon, etc. Another item that I use when getting several layers of fabric together for sewing is clips. I started with those office-style black clips with the silver ‘wings’ and then discovered the Wonder Clip. I encourage you to find what works for you and have confidence in your abilities. Practice makes perfect when starting something new (like ditching the pins).
I hope as you proceed farther into your journey as a successful seamstress that you’ll find this information useful to help with your speed as well. I’m certain there are those who live and die by the pin and that is great! Every seamstress has their thing for sure, but perhaps this will help someone along their journey to try something new and different which provides the opportunity to eliminate a bit of time until the fabric hits the needle.
Until next time, get your Sew Jam On!