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Article 23 - Sept. 27, 2010
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Straight Pins: Get the Point

By Judi Harris

Straight pins found at historical Jamestown, Virginia dating back to 1610.

Exhibit number 49: Straight pins found at historical Jamestown, Virginia dating back to 1610. Notice the scissors, buttons, and thimbles too.

Straight pins of today can be found with colorful pearl heads and magnetic carries making pinning and  sewing a little easier.

Straight pins of today can be found with colorful pearl heads and magnetic carries making pinning and  clean up a little easier.


           When I first began this website a few years back I asked my friend who was encouraging me to start a sewing website, “What would I ever say to people?” She took a quick glance around the room and shouted, “Pins. Talk about pins!” I laughed at her suggestion, thinking that everyone already knows about pins. Almost a thousand pages later I realized getting the point across about the importance of pins was actually a great idea.

            In sewing, only use straight and sharp pins. The straight pin is the most popular and usually of medium length and thickness.  It’s useful in all types of sewing--whether dressmaking, quilting, or crafting. The pearl-headed pin is longer and as a colored pearl head which helps fingers pin through multiple layers of fabric.  This type of pin is used in our sewing studio. Be careful not sew or iron over these pins, as they will bend and melt.  The Dressmaker’s pin is similar to a  straight pin, but longer. They are great for beginner sewers.

            There are a variety of pin types available for you to purchase at your local fabric shop. The best pins are to be high polished and made of steel. A ballpoint pin should be used on pile or knit fabrics. A magnetic holder makes pinning and clean-up a lot easier. The thinner and sharper the pin the better. A good pin will easily slide in and out of fabric without pulling or damaging it. Trash old pins that are bent, rusted, or dull, as they can damage your fabric.

            On a recent trip to colonial Williamsburg, Virginia I took a step back in time when I entered a dress shop and all the ladies were in costume, sitting and chatting while hand sewing. I daydreamed of living just for one day in the colonial era, and took in sights around me. As I was looking, I noticed straight pins. Thinking I "caught" them using a modern tool, I questioned them about the pins. To my surprise I found out that pins are one of the oldest artifacts known to mankind. Throughout the years, human beings have invented methods of holding two pieces of cloth together: Pre-historic people used thorns and bones as pins. In ancient Egypt pins were made of bronze with beautifully decorated heads. In archeological digs throughout the world, there have been findings of pins made from bone, ivory, silver, gold, and brass. Colonial women also used pins to close or mend many of their clothing together, men too. They would hide the pins in the seams of their clothing. (I image it was uncomfortable working like that.) Evidence of this is found in James Town, Virginia where you can find a skeleton of a man and everything that was found with him, including a bullet in the leg and yes, five straight pins. I'm sure they were helping hold his clothing together. So the next time you're prepping your newest project with pins, think about the long history it carries, and the importance of how something so tiny can be so helpful.


Founder & Publisher: Judi Harris
Editor in Chief: Jessica Lynn Harris
Art & Photo Editor: Andrew DiMaio
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Contributors: Ushoshi Meekerjee
copyright 2010 Love To Sew
Article 23 Sept. 27, 2010




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