Pins are as old as sewing itself. It is one of those things beginners and seasoned sewists alike swear by and are must-have accessories in a sewing kit.
They come in handy for firmly securing layers of fabric together before sewing for a fuss-free experience. Nonetheless, using pins has its own set of challenges.
While many choose to overlook these minor pains, an innovative mind saw an opportunity to develop a fancier, brighter, maybe better alternative to pins—the sewing clip.
What are sewing clips? Sewing Clips are what you may know as Wonder clips. They are colorful press and snap spring clips with a flat base designed to clamp fabric together.
If you are just hearing about them for the first time or have always wondered which is better between sewing clips and pins, this post is for you. Join us as we make a comparison and highlight their pros and cons.
What Are Sewing Pins?
Sewing pins are special pins used for basting. They help keep two parts of fabric aligned before stitching, among other applications.
They come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, but you are probably familiar with the most popular one —the dressmaker sewing pin.
It is metallic, slender, and sharp, with or without a colored plastic ball for the head. This pin is ideal for light to medium weight fabrics and is sometimes referred to as a silk pin.
For heavier materials like upholstery fabric, a more robust pin known as the T-pin is used instead. It is shaped like the letter T and is thicker and stronger to handle tougher fabrics.
The T head makes it ideal for fabrics with a loose weave too. Unlike the dressmaker pin, this will not slip out to the other side due to the T-shaped head providing anchorage.
Pros Of Pins
Sewing pins are what some sewists would describe as indispensable. They are small yet reliable accessories to have. Until the recent dawn of sewing clips, pins had no competition over a long period. Here are a few reasons why.
- Affordable – Pins are super affordable. For a small price, you get plenty of them in a pack which is excellent value for money. You can pin even large projects without breaking your bank.
- Ubiquitous – The best accessories to have by your side are those that are readily available. Sewing pins are so ubiquitous. If your pack ever runs out, you can quickly replenish your supply, even from your local craft store.
- Versatile – Another reason why pins are loved is their versatility. They will function on any part of the garment; seams, pockets, collars, darts, pleats, etc. Furthermore, they are multipurpose and useful for many other non-sewing applications.
- Strong Hold – With pins, stability is guaranteed. Your alignment will remain accurate as you sew because they provide a stable hold that doesn’t allow the fabric to shift.
- Small And Lightweight – Lastly, the sewing pin is very small and light. Therefore it doesn’t add any significant weight to the fabric. The small size also means that you can get the most extended hold in tricky situations. The little pins can get very close to the needle and even go under the feed plate with some machines. However, this is not advisable, especially not with a serger.
Cons Of Pins
Sewing using pins is not all that smooth. Despite being in the game for the longest time, sewing pins have a couple of drawbacks which led to the rise of sewing clips to counter them. Here are the weaknesses of pins.
- Compromised Safety – Pins have a reputation for causing injury if not stored correctly, misplaced, or left in a garment. The sharp end will tear into the skin when slight pressure is applied. They are particularly a major concern in households with babies and toddlers who may play with them, unaware of the imminent danger. Being so small, they are a potential choking hazard too.
- Invisibility Issues – Because pins are tiny, they are easy to miss in fabric. Some sewing pins come with colored bulbs on their head to enhance visibility. Still, it is not uncommon to find even these getting forgotten in the projects after completion. Forgotten pins can cause injury and also break the sewing machine needle if you sew over them accidentally.
- Limited Capacity – As much as you love pins, you may be unable to use them for extra thick layers of fabric. They just won’t go through. Sewing pins work well for shear and medium thickness fabrics but for rigid materials or holding extra thick layers, you need a different kind of support.
- Unwanted Pin Marks – Pins pierce the fabric and, once removed, leave a hole behind. Some materials bounce back quickly and cover up the space. Others, unfortunately, are left with the holes visible. These hole marks degrade the look of the project if they show on the finished product. Leather and vinyl are a few such examples.
- Not Long-Lasting – Good quality sewing pins will serve you for a while. However, you are more likely to replace a lost pin than search for it because it is a real nightmare. Well, a pack has so many anyway, so it’s an easier way out. But then you end up depleting them really fast. Pins are prone to bending too, which will happen much sooner for poor quality sewing pins. Once bent, they become unusable and trying to recover the shape could result in breakage or self-injury. Also, after some time, pins lose their silky smoothness and sharpness. As a result, they start to snag fabric causing damage.
What Are Sewing Clips?
Sewing clips look like your ordinary hair clips. The ones with two parts attached with a spring and open up when pressed on one end and snap back closed upon release.
The difference is that the sewing clips are designed specifically for sewing. The upper part is arched, while the lower one is flat.
Its grip, unlike that of a hair clip that has claws, is flat. Wonder clips were the first-ever sewing clips; hence the terms are often used interchangeably.
Pros Of Sewing Clips
Sewing clips were invented to perform the same function as pins minus their disadvantages. Let’s see what aspects of the clip stand out in superiority to pins.
- Big And Brightly Colored – Bigger is better when it comes to visibility. Sewing clips are much bigger and brightly colored. You wouldn’t miss them even if you had an eyesight problem. They are easier to find if misplaced and will never be left behind on projects. Another advantage is that you need fewer clips than pins, as one clip covers a significant length.
- Accommodates Thick Layers – The clips open up wide enough and can accommodate a range of fabric widths. Therefore they hold thick layers without the issues you would encounter if you did with pins.
- Non-Piercing Grip – Sewing clips have a flat surface that grips the fabric. Even the toothed versions do not dig into the material’s weave. Consequently, they can hold as long as you need them to without worrying about leaving holes or marks on the fabric. The clips are perfect for non-woven materials like leather and vinyl that show even the tiniest holes
- Safer – Because sewing pins do not have a sharp point, they have a low risk of injury. They can’t tear into flesh. They are also too big to be a choking hazard when put in the mouth by children. You can comfortably use them around the home without fear.
Cons Of Sewing Clips
Sewing clips have their share of drawbacks as well.
- Bulkiness – Well, we did mention that bigger is better from a visibility perspective and better thickness allowance. On the flip side, the size adds bulk and weight to the fabric making it pretty cumbersome while sewing if there are too many. The fact that the sewing clip can’t go under the plate because of the size means you’ll have a limited hold time too. You must remove them early enough before getting too close while sewing. Premature removal of the sewing clips may cause problems, especially when trying to maneuver in tricky areas.
- Inaccurate Alignment – Fabrics tend to slip out of the grip of clips. Unlike pins that go through the weave over and under the layers of fabric, sewing clips just pinch them together. When some layers slide off without your knowledge, your sewing will be misaligned, leading to false measurement, size, or fit.
- Limited Functions – Sewing clips are designed for hemming and securing parts that lie along the edge of the fabric. You can not place them just anywhere as you would pins. They are impractical to use on other parts of your sewing, like ribbons or appliques that need to be centrally placed.
- Costly – Sewing clips are within the affordable price range; however, they are expensive per piece compared to sewing pins.
- Prone To Breakage – Sewing clips are built from plastic and a spring; therefore, they will not rust on you or bend like sewing pins. Plastic will, however, break when handled carelessly, rendering the sewing clip useless.
Let’s quickly recap the main points using side by side comparison:
|Sewing pins||Sewing clips|
|Price||Lower in price||Affordable but more expensive per piece|
|Placement||It can be placed anywhere on the project||Secures the edges only|
|Size||Small but may be invisible if not keen||Bigger, highly visible, but bulky|
|Strength of grip||Very strong and good for thin layers||Strong though fabric could slip and shift. Accommodates extra thick layers of fabric|
|Durability||Bends with time, becomes blunt, or rusts||Breakable|
|Accessibility||Readily available online and in local stores||New in the market, available mostly online|
|Safety||Safety concerns are real||No safety issues|
So if you’ve ever been in doubt on which is better, there you have it; sewing clips vs pins. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and no one is really 100% better than the other.
For versatility and a reliable grip, go with pins. But anyone having safety concerns with kids and only needs something to flatten edges, clips are better.
To enjoy both worlds, make sure you stock each of these accessories in your kit. You never know when you might need the other.