The Lost Straight Pin Dilemma

The Lost Straight Pin Dilemma

Let’s be honest. Sewing isn’t the most dangerous hobby. I’m not driving a Nascar race, flipping in the air off of a dirt bike, or taming poisonous reptiles. Overall, it’s a safe assumption that I’m not chancing my life by trying to finish a sewing project! But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for smaller injuries in the world of sewing, and one of those possibilities has surfaced a number of times on this blog: Accidentally sticking yourself with a straight pin.


Don't misplace your straight pin container!

Don’t misplace your straight pin container!

Sure, it’s a minor injury. There’s no need to rush to the hospital, and you probably won’t break out a Tylenol bottle to help with the pain. Regardless, it is a discomfort, and the possibility of enduring that discomfort extends beyond your sewing session if you do what I’ve found to be one of the easiest missteps in sewing, which is losing your straight pins. I don’t mean misplacing your straight pin container either! I mean that once you put away your sewing materials and supplies, you find that there is at least one straight pin lingering in or around your sewing area.  Each of those straight pins could be a future discomfort waiting to happen, and every one could also bring you one step closer to buying more straight pins.

But it’s sooo easy to lose these things! How can a person keep from having it happen?

Like with thread and material, the type of straight pin you get can matter, so be sure you’re making a good choice!

Like with thread and material, the type of straight pin you get can matter, so be sure you’re making a good choice!

Sometimes it’s unavoidable…

For me, personally, I’m leaning toward the idea that I can’t completely prevent it. In fact, my leaving straight pins behind is kind of a running joke in my house. Other than using a pin cushion, the only advice I have to offer on that detail is to make the right choice when buying your pins. Like with thread and material, the type of straight pin you get can matter, so be sure you’re making a good choice! In my experience, ones with a bit more length to them seem to hold their places better than the shorter ones, and I think logic backs that up. The longer the pin, the more space you have to lock it in place in your fabric. If it’s locked in place, there’s less risk of it working its way back out of the material, which lessens the risk of a loose straight pin.

If it’s locked in place, there’s less risk of it working its way back out of the material, which lessens the risk of a loose straight pin.

If it’s locked in place, there’s less risk of it working its way back out of the material, which lessens the risk of a loose straight pin.

Even with those longer pins and pin cushion though, pins still might end up scattered around your work area. So when nothing you’ve done keeps your straight pins from falling to the floor, seat, etc., how do you find them to put them away and prevent someone from accidentally coming across one in a not-so-pleasant fashion? Here are some ideas!

Your own senses

This one is obvious, so let’s begin with it. Sometimes, just looking around your sewing area can let you find loose straight pins, and gently patting your hand (not pressing too hard since pins are, indeed, sharp) could help you detect them as well. I honestly don’t know how many pins I’ve found with these tactics, and I didn’t have to buy anything for them!

Found ya!

Found ya!

Shine a flashlight

Objects that are the color and/or texture of a straight pin reflect light, so if you shine a flashlight, you might get a glimmer in response that will lead you to a loose straight pin. Take your time as you do this so that you don’t look right over the pin! A few extra seconds for a better-done job could save you hassle and, as I mentioned, discomfort, in the future!

Use a vacuum cleaner

Okay, clearly, you might not want to vacuum up a straight pin for the sake of your vacuum cleaner! But as the link says, if you use an extension hose from your vacuum, you just need to put some kind of barrier over it to keep the pin out. A piece of cloth would work, and using the vacuum in this fashion would pull the straight pin out of whatever hiding place it’s in to a very obvious spot without damaging your vacuum cleaner. Simple, right?

Use a magnet

This method is plain, but effective! Just move a magnet around your work area, and any metal pin that’s close enough should be drawn to it. The strategy comes with very little hassle, and very little room for error unless your magnet is too far away from the pin. But so long as you’re thorough with covering the area, this is — in my opinion — the best tactic of the listed ones. It’s not as iffy as missing a flashlight glimmer, as unsure as eyeballing the area, or as cumbersome as breaking out (and readying) your vacuum cleaner. It’s so low-tech, most people can use it easily, and it’s cheap! What more could you ask for?

With these methods at your disposal, hopefully most of your loose straight pins can be found and preserved for future use instead of laying around for future injury!

Do you have a preference among them or know any other strategies for locating loose straight pins? If so, share your thoughts!

Beginner Sewing Project: Felt Flower Pincushion

Beginner Sewing Project: Felt Flower Pincushion

Felt Flower Pillow Pincushion

Felt Flower Pillow Pincushion

A pincushion is one of the first things you need for sewing. You will love yours if it is a pretty one and you make it yourself.  This project is super easy and it makes a perfect first project at your new machine.  This pincushion is a generous size and you won’t find one quite as nice for sale at the store.

If you are not an absolute beginner, you can whip up this pretty pincushion quickly for yourself or for a friend.  This makes a sweet gift.  You could even make these for friends who don’t sew by filling with lavender flowers instead of stuffing so that they can enjoy it as a pretty sachet instead.

Even non-beginners appreciate a fast project. Making one or a few of these might be a nice pick-me-up on an otherwise dreary afternoon.

Though it does make a pretty sachet, this project was designed as a pincushion, and it is my favorite of the many in my room. I sewed snaps on the back of mine and made a permanent place for it on my sewing room organizer curtains.

Pin it

Speaking of pins, here’s an important word to the wise: All pins are not created equal!  I highly recommend you further beautify this pincushion with head pins.  Really, I can’t stress this enough- do yourself a favor and arm yourself with this kind of pin. Pearl or flower head pins are easy to see, find, and remove from your project while sewing. Plus, they are pretty!

To make this beginner project pincushion, you need:

Two six-inch fabric squares

Felt scraps, for cutting petals.  I made mine using purples, greens, and blues.  You could make a more realistic flower using all one color of felt, or perhaps several shades of the same color.

A button for the flower center

Embroidery thread

Polyester fluff or other stuffing

To make the flower:

I cut my petals into pointy football shapes.  I tapered the petals at both ends to reduce bulk behind the button center.

Six graduated layers of six petals each make a nice, full flower.  Use the six largest petals for the back layer, stepping down to the smallest set of six petals for the front layer.  Also cut a small, one-inch circle of felt to place in front of your smallest layer of petals as the flower center.

Cut a three inch backing circle from the same color of felt as the back layer of petals and assemble all layers atop this circle and stitch them down by hand through the center.  Then place the button at the flower center and sew the button down using embroidery thread in a contrasting color.  I used a metallic silver thread in this example.

Now, set the flower aside.

Assembling the pincushion

Place the right sides of the 6″ squares together.  Sew around the square, leaving an opening for turning. Be sure to back-stitch the beginning and end of this seam.

After you’ve done that, clip off the tiny corner triangles outside of your seam, and turn the pincushion right side out. Use a point turner or other tool to push the corners out well.

Now stuff.  Stuff it nice and full, and then top-stitch to close your opening. I like to continue the top-stitching and go all around the entire square using matching thread.

Center your flower on top of the pincushion. Affix it by hand-stitching the backing circle to the cushion.  The larger petals will prevent these stitches from showing.

And now you made a pretty pincushion and completed this easy project that fast.

What will you make next?