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How to Pin Fabric to Pattern

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If you are wondering how to pin fabric to a pattern before sewing your first seam, then you are in the right place. Pins are one of the most essential tools used in sewing. 

However, there is a proper way to pin fabric to pattern to make the cutting easier and more precise. Start by choosing the best sewing pins for each fabrication you are working on.

A sewing pin used for pinning has three parts- a head, a point, and a shaft. Pinning is a type of basting and it is employed to hold two or over two fabrics together. 

This will help before you cut or sew with them. But, is there a proper way to pin the fabric to a pattern? 

How do you pin fabric to a pattern? The primary methods to pin a fabric is horizontal and perpendicular/ vertically to the seam. Pinning should be done right for safer and neater sewing. With right pinning the fabric sewing/cutting gets a neat and smooth stitch/cut.

Some advantages of pinning properly are:

  • Fabric layers/pattern pieces are secured and remain together
  • Anchor seam allowances as you sew
  • Gives a smoother and neat stitch line
  • Easily fit fabric on the body
  • Sew seams and hems quickly

If you are a beginner and need to secure two pieces of fabric pieces, the pin method will help you sew straight with a sewing machine.

This article discussed the ins and outs of pinning a pattern to fabric. Detailed below are the frequently asked questions about everything you need to know when pinning fabric and a sewing patter together.

step by step how to pin fabric to pattern

How should the pins be places on the pattern?

When pinning a garment on the pattern, place the pins either horizontally or vertically to the seam line just outside the seam allowances. This is to ensure safe pinning, prevent damaging the fabric and also indicate the seam allowance width. 

Always, use the right type of pins to avoid fabric damage while pinning. The goal is to not mar the surface of the fabric with pins, but thicker pins can damage the delicate fabric such as chiffon or silk materials.

While pinning a garment, ensure you are placing the pins outside the seam allowance of the pattern lines. Line the fabric edge first and then place the pins perpendicular to the fabric edge. 

The pinhead should be sticking at a right angle to the cut lines. Make sure to use the correct kind of pins that you can sew over sewing machine to allow for quick removal of the pin while sewing.

How to use pins safely?

To use pins safely, align the pins parallel to the fabric edge and insert them just outside the seam. This way when you stitch, the pins inserted are to the left of the knife and needles. 

The fabric is held stable and you are safe from the avoidable prick. Your machine also remains away from any damage and you from any accidents.

How do you pin safely?

With a conventional machine– Inserting pins perpendicularly to the fabric edge with the pinhead sticking out to the right is safe. This way you can remove the pin as you sew and the pins do not poke your hand or end up jammed in the sewing machine.

With a serger- Insert the pins outside the seam and parallel to the fabric edge. This will keep the pins to the left and present no obstacle to the machine itself.

Other tips

  • Keep a magnet wand close by you to avoid pins falling off and harming you with pricks.
  • Investing in pins with a glass head is best as they are easier to see and pick up when fallen on the ground.
  • Avoid holding pins in your mouth while removing and sewing.
manila sewing patterns

What are the two ways of pinning the fabrics?

The two ways of pinning the fabrics are vertically or perpendicular to the seam, and horizontal to the fabric seam.

Horizontal pinning- Insert your pin with the fabric edge and in line. Ensure the direction of the pins pointing the same way as the direction of the sewing. 

The pinhead should point towards you for easy removal of pins without any harm done to your fingers. This pinning is ideal for straight seams.

Vertical pinning- This type of pinning is right for sewing ruffles or curves. This holds the fabric right as the pins are inserted into the fabric edge at a 90-degree angle with the pinhead sticking out. It is not recommended for vinyl and silk fabrics as they leave holes in the material.

What side of fabric do you pin the pattern to?

Pinning the fabric pattern should be done to the right side of the fabric. This is because it makes it simple when working with prints and trying to match motifs or plaids to center the patterns. The other side or wrong side of the fabric can be used for chalk markings.

Pin the fabric to match the pattern. You can also cut a single layer of fabric. This will ensure the pattern result as you intend on. 

Matching plaids can be obtained through good practice. When you cut a single fabric layer, the pattern should be placed upside down on the pieces. 

If there is a fold involved, then fold the fabric part or cut one side and place the piece by flipping it on the folded line before cutting the other side. As a result, this will help to ensure you have mirror-image pieces on the cut to pattern pieces.

If you need additional support, other than pinning method, grab extra tools to mark fabric for sewing so you know exactly where to start dart location or a shirring point. 

How to pin fabric for cutting?

When pinning a fabric for cutting, insert your pins a hand width spaced apart. Ensure they are sitting parallel to the pattern paper edge, and 2 or 3 pins should be sufficient with curves. 

Several pins can alter the pattern paper edge and it can get tricky to cut. When the pattern is in position, you make the cut.

Pin Fabric for Cutting Steps:

  • Lay the pattern pieces on your fabric that needs a cut prior to pinning.
  • Ensure the folds and grain lines being parallel to the edges with sufficient fabric for fitting the pattern.
  • Pin all the corners of the pattern with no hanging edges.
  • Space the pins a hand width apart being parallel to the paper pattern edge.
  • For curves use 2-3 pins.
  • Check that the pattern is secure in place.
  • Cut the fabric right next to the pattern edge.

How to pin fabric for a sewing machine?

Insert the pinhead along the fabric cut edge and the pinpoint towards the stitch line. This will help you to grab the head and remove it easily while you sew.

When pinning fabric for a sewing machine, straight pins are generally used for convenience. Have a magnetic wand or pin holder close to you to pin and place them back. 

When sewing, slow down upon approaching the subsequent pin and stop to carefully remove it. You can crank the sewing wheel until you reach the pin, but not touching the pin, then remove the pin and place it on the wand before continuing forward. 

If you want to leave it, placing the pin outside the seam allowance will be best. As a result, you will avoid breaking needle or thread when passing by the pin because it is outside the stitch.

Experts advise: Pin the fabric perpendicular to the seam as pins do not stick you, that way you do not need to remove them while sewing. Work precisely, and they are actually easier to get out all in one go.

Pin Fabric to Pattern: Conclusion

Pinning a fabric is a substitute for basting to keep the fabric in place while cutting and sewing clean stitches. In fact, pinning saves you time and helps you to achieve a professional looking finish on your DIY clothing.

The two pinning styles are parallel to the seam line and perpendicular to the seam line. Insert the pins about 1 inch spaced apart for curves and 2 to 3 inches apart for straight stitches. 

Remove the pin while sewing is considered best to avoid any accidents. However, if the pins are outside the seam allowance then you can pass right by them with your sewing machine and remove them all at once when you are finished sewing.

This covers all the details that you need for pinning fabric to a pattern. When done effectively, you can save time and prevent damage to your fabric and sewing machine.

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