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To pin or not to pin
using pins to hold seams together while sewing
pab
pab
Advanced Beginner
North Carolina USA
Member since 3/16/07
Posts: 35
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Date: 3/28/10 3:58 PM

I'm not quite sure whether or not to use pins when sewing seams. My mom always used pins perpendicular to the fabric edge and so that's what I've usually done. However, I have some issues with doing this:
1) If the pins are sticking out to the right of the fabric edge, I cannot use a seam guide. Even if I'm going slow I often see the fabric shifting slightly to the right or left, and my seams are not as straight as I think they should be. I'd like to be able to use a seam guide to help my fabric stay a little straighter, but cannot do this pinning perpendicular.

I've often wondered if this first issue is caused by me of the machine or a little of both. Am I just not being careful enough? I feel like I am being careful, so I find this very frustrating.

2) On the few occasions when I've tried not using pins, the fabric layers usually end up feeding through at different rates and this distorts the pattern. Even using pins I sometimes find this feeding issue between pins with the fabric bunching up on top just before the next pin. If I pull the pin out just before it gets to the needle, it either bunches up under the needle or continues pushing the top fabric further as if I didn't pin at all.

Regarding this second issue, it might be more of a pressure problem, but I've tried adjusting my pressure foot and it didn't seem to make a difference with the feeding. Most of what I've sewn through the years has been on plain weave cotton, so it's not like I'm using extra slippery or particularly difficult fabrics.

I recently bought a walking foot, but I've only tried it so far when I was sewing a flannel & cotton fabric together. I still had the shifting fabric issue. I tried it both with pins and without pins, and also tried switching which fabric was on top. The walking foot didn't seem to make it any better than the general sewing foot.

Should I pin parallel to the seam line? Would this help either issue? Or is there a better method for sewing without using pins? I'd be grateful to hear any suggestions you might give me.
Thanks!
Pam

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Pam

goodworks1
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goodworks1  Friend of PR
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Illinois USA
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Date: 3/28/10 4:34 PM

Margaret Islander has/had a method for sewing without pins that works well for many seams.

When trying to match points or seams sometimes basting in advance helps. Or pinning slightly 'off' to compensate for the uneven feeding.

I like to pin perpendicular to the seam too, but it's lots easier if you don't use a seam guide, but instead use the marks on the base/face plate of your machine.

Some people advocate pinning within the seam with the head of the pin toward you as you sew. Then you can sew a lot further while the pin is still in the fabric holding things in place.

I think you will develop the method(s) that work for you as you go along....

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blog: goodworks1.wordpress.com

Elaine Dougan
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Elaine Dougan  Friend of PR
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British Columbia CANADA
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Date: 3/28/10 6:41 PM

It helps to keep the fabric from shifting if you hold the two layers firmly. One hand can be behind the needle and the other in front but don't pull as that can cause the needle to bend or the fabric to stretch. You can use your fingers in place of pins and just put pins in the crucial areas that must match. Sometimes you can machine baste those areas that must match before you do your final stitching.

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Elaine

Kayseri
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Kayseri  Friend of PR
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NEW ZEALAND
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In reply to pab


Date: 3/28/10 6:45 PM

I always pin perpendicular to the fabric edge and I remove the pins before they go under the presser foot.
Two reasons for this:
A) Pins definitely get caught in the teeth of feed dogs and twist as the fabric goes under the presser foot, and the lighter the fabric the worse it gets.
B) If the needle hits a pin it will blunt. Blunt needles then cause other issues, eg skipped stitches, pulled or cut threads in the fabric.

When I am working with a seam that needs precision as it goes under the needle (eg. easing or slippery fabrics) then I will hand baste and remove all pins.

Occassionally I will leave the pins in, working with gathers for example, and if the fabric is lightweight I just have to live with the pins twisting.

ukdame
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ukdame
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Washington USA
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In reply to pab


Date: 3/28/10 7:05 PM

I usually pin parallel to the fabric edge , pinning to the left of my 5/8 seam allowance. I can then remove them as I sew , well before they reach the pressor foot. If I pin crosswise it feels akward and I end up sticking myself. I have not had any problem w/bunching. I sometimes baste when I think I need a more secure hold before machine sewing.

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It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. ~ Franklin D Roosevelt 1843
Janome 19606 ,Janome My Excel 4023, Brother 1034D, White 1750C, Kenmore 158.1803, White 764, Brother 780D.

3HoursPast
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3HoursPast
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Date: 3/28/10 7:09 PM

It almost sounds like you might be pushing or pulling on the fabric a little and that causes your distortion. Every time I sew a seam I have to remind myself that I'm guiding, not pulling or pushing. I also tend to use my fingertips to gently smooth the fabric before it goes under the needle. Like a little bit of tension perpendicular to the cut edge.

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http://3hourspast.com- Vintage Style, Sewing, and Ethical Fashion

Sewing Joe
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Sewing Joe
Indiana USA
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Date: 3/28/10 7:11 PM

I like to pin perpendicular to the edge of the fabric as well. I feel like I get better results with that, although I find it more difficult to use a seam guide when I do it that way.

I find that if I do "taut" sewing, I have less problems with seams not matching up. I hold the fabric taut on either side of the needle. You have to be careful not to pull the fabric and bend the needle, but it gets easier with practice.

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Joe in New Albany, iN

Lynnelle
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Lynnelle  Friend of PR
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Michigan USA
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In reply to pab


Date: 3/28/10 8:32 PM

Everyone has different techniques. This works for me:

I pin perpendicular to the edge and only gently hold my fabric. I find that too much hand-pressure causes the fabric to shift. Let the feed dogs do their work. My hands are very relaxed (slightly resting on the fabric) while gently guiding the fabric and adjusting only when necessary.

nancy2001
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Date: 3/28/10 8:43 PM

I used to pin every seam, but now I rarely pin anything except the start and/or the end of the seam. I use my own version of the Islander Method to keep everything in line. If I'm having trouble with a tough seam, I baste it with Wonder Tape. But the technique I use depends on the particular fabric and seam. There is no perfect method that works for every part of every project.

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No sewing project is ever a complete success nor a total failure.

pab
pab
Advanced Beginner
North Carolina USA
Member since 3/16/07
Posts: 35
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Date: 3/31/10 7:45 AM

Thanks for all your responses. What would be really helpful would be to have someone who has mastered this issue standing over my shoulder to watch what I do and see my results. It seems like no matter how firmly or loosely I hold the fabric and no matter how slowly I go, the fabric still doesn't feed straight, and I still have the issue of uneven feeding of the layers. For now, though, I guess I just have to keep practicing & determine what works best for me. With different types of scrap fabric I'll try sewing with pins parallel to the seam, without pins, etc.

Pam

Pam

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Pam

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