Sewing Tips and Tricks: How to Pin a Pattern

Go back to basics with this beginner sewing tutorial that shows you how to pin sewing patterns!

Sewing Tips and Tricks How to Pin a Pattern

Beginner sewists are often very excited to make their first sewing project from a store-bought pattern. It is so exciting to purchase a pattern and know what it is going to look like!

The professional-quality pieces on the cover are the best motivation you can find! This moment can pass quickly, however, when you learn that you do not know how to pin a pattern. Sewing patterns can be very confusing.

They are often covered with confusing lines and marks. For a brand new sewist, these are like hieroglyphics! One of the first steps to learning how to use a sewing pattern is figuring out how to pin a pattern to fabric correctly. Sewing Tips and Tricks: How to Pin a Pattern has all the info you need.

PLUS! ​If you want even more great sewing tutorials, be sure to sign up for our free eNewsletter, Sewing It Up!


How to Pin a Pattern to Cut Fabric

What to Do First

  1. Before you pin a pattern to fabric, you need to make sure everything is ready to go. Prepare your fabric and iron your pattern to ensure that your measurements are as precise as possible.
  2. Get to know your fabric before you sew. You want to find where the grain is as well as decipher how your fabric will act when you sew it. Does it stretch? Will it shrink?
  3. Cut out your pattern from your paper. Make sure when you are doing this that you cut just outside of the line. It is much better to have pieces that are a little too big than too small. This will also allow for some error while cutting your fabric.

How to Pin a Pattern to Fabric

*Note: The way you pin your pattern to your fabric depends on what kind of fabric you are pinning. If you are using a delicate fabric, you want to use as few pins as possible or maybe even decide to opt for pattern weights instead. Silk, for example, does not heal well from too many pin pricks.​

  1. Gather all of your materials and make sure your space is clean. You want to pin your fabric on a flat, clean surface.
  2. Read the FULL directions to your pattern before doing anything else. You do not want to miss specific instructions.
  3. Cut out your pattern.

How to Pin a Pattern to Fabric

  1. Lay out your fabric. Most patterns have specific instructions as to how to lay out your fabric. You will often need to layer the fabric in two layers to cut two pattern pieces. Consult your pattern to determine where the sides of the fabric should face.
  2. Your pattern will have an arrow to show you how to follow the grain of the fabric. The grain of the fabric is the direction the fabric has been weaved. You often want to sew along the strongest part of the fabric which is with the grain.

How to Pin a Pattern to Fabric

  1. Pin your pattern! You will want to pin your fabric in a way in which makes it easier to cut. This means you do not want your pins sticking over the edge. You will want to place pins along the long edges. You will not need a ton. All you need is enough to keep your fabric steady while you trace or cut out your pattern. Additionally, make sure to pin at all corners to ensure that you are able to cut these sections out precisely.

How to Pin a Sewing Pattern

How to Pin a Pattern to Sew

Horizontal and Vertical Pinning

Sewists pin in all kinds of ways. You need to find the way that works best for you. Many skip the pins all together and use binder clips or pattern weights to trace. If you do want to know how to pin a pattern with pins, you can either pin horizontally or vertically. These two methods look like the images shown below.

But Which One Should I Use?

You can really use either method. Both have their pros and cons. Pinning vertically can require less pins and may end up with a more precise cut. Horizontal pinning can make the fabric bunch more.

Horizontal pinning, however, means that any damage the pins do will be closer to the seam of your project. This means any damage it does will be practically invisible when you wear the garment.

How to Pin a Sewing Pattern

Pinning a Pattern to Sew

In order to pin a pattern to sew, you follow the exact same instructions as when pinning the pattern onto the fabric to cut it out. Do exactly as your pattern tells you, double-checking to make sure that the right sides of the fabric are facing in the right direction.

What are your favorite sewing tips and tricks?
Let us know below in the comments!

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Even though I've been sewing for years I always learn something from posts like the one above. Not everyone has a handy friend or family member to teach them how to sew so instructions like those above can be really valuable. Thank you for this very detailed and informative piece which has now been printed and stuck on my workroom notice board.

Such great tips! Thanks for sharing!


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