Issue 2: Pins
Welcome to our new series, Toolbox Tips, where we aim to highlight useful tools and handy gadgets to cosplayers starting out on their crafting journey. Ranging from incredibly cheap & basic to more advanced, we hope to cover a wide range of tools and tips. Please note that some product links contained within these articles are affiliate links, read more about this here.
Unless you're some kind of talented sewing octopus, you're going to want to make sure you have a handy tin of pins to help with your cosplay making. They'll keep fabric together at the right points as you sew it, help temporarily position things and are really easy to adjust while you're fitting items of clothing.
Thankfully pins are generally very cheap, and often come down to personal preference as to the type you get. The three main things to consider when choosing pins are :
- Thickness - The finer your pins, the less likely they'll leave visible holes in fabrics. However thinner pins are generally weaker - so if you're pinning very thick fabrics or something under any stress, you're going to want thicker, heavier duty, pins.
- Length - If you're using pins to tailor a garment or test out curves, shorter pins can give a smoother temporary line or 'seam', and are easier to use if it's a very small or fiddly section. Longer pins are more useful for when you're pinning multiple layers, or temporarily positioning pieces as you'll need less of them.
- Pin-head type - There are three main types of pin heads, which we've gone into below!
Fine metal pins like these from Korbond are incredibly common and all round general purpose. As they lay flat it's easier to work around or alongside them, and being short they can easily be used for tailoring.
However they can be fiddly to pick up, hard to spot if you drop them, and if you're using a very loose weave fabric the heads can slip through the fibres.
Glass Headed Pins
Glass or plastic headed pins are similar to standard dressmaking pins, but with a larger round head at the end. This helps them stop going through looser weave fabrics, makes them easier to pick up and as they're often brightly coloured - much easier to spot if you accidentally drop them. Headed pins often come in much larger sizes as well, which is useful for much thicker fabrics, or for use with things like wig styling where you need to temporarily separate fibres.
Easy Use Pins
Similar to the headed pins but a little bit pricier, these have a much larger grip on the non-pointy end.
The larger grip means they don't sit as flush or as neatly and we wouldn't advise trying to get these under your machine foot if you're sewing alongside them. However they are much easier to hold, pick up and use - especially for anyone with dexterity issues or just even long nails.
Flat/Flower Headed Pins
Flat or Flower Headed pins are a nice middle ground between normal dressmakers and glass headed pins, and are most commonly associated with quilting. Large enough head to not go through loose weave fabrics, fairly easy to pick up - but also being flat you can easily iron and (very carefully) sew alongside them.
Plus you can get cute designs like birds and buttons.
These weird pins are not great for most fabrics as their stem is generally fairly chunky and therefore would leave holes, however they are super handy for wig styling and various prop or jewellery making to hold things in place on a soft surface, such as a polystyrene head or a base that you're working on. They're also useful to hold beads and other items in place for painting and spraying. Due to their width they're very durable.
A pin with a double function! Sewing clips are generally made out of metal and act like paperclips on fabric, meaning no holes or marks for anything synthetic.
The great feature of these though is that they have a measuring gauge printed on them, so if you're using them for a hemming you can ensure it's consistent all the way around.
Pins? Where we're going, we don't need pins! Well, for some things anyway... "Wonder Clips", or "Handy Clips" are aptly named for being tiny little useful clips, replacing the use of pins when working with fabric. Clamping pieces together at the seams, the clips can be used and easily repositioned while tailoring, while also being strong enough to hold fabric tightly together. The upside of these clips is that for synthetic materials without a weave such as PVC, leatherette or the like, it wont leave holes where pins would. However keep in mind not to leave the clips on for too long though as they are very strong for their size and can leave permanent marks if left for days/weeks depending on your fabric.
We also love using these to clamp anything that's being glued together - keep in mind to not use them on soft materials such as foam however as they can leave indents. They're not very handy when it comes to positioning things, such as patches however, so you'll probably still want a tin of pins alongside these.
Generally pins don't need any maintenance, however if you do use them alongside glue or paint, give them a quick wipe down with white spirit and put aside to dry. Any residue or build up on pins can mean they leave bigger holes or snag on your fabric, so do keep an eye out or maybe keep some pins aside for any messy work.
Tips for buying
- Super cheap pins have a tendency to bend, be aware! Look for a brand you trust
- Look for sets that come in a tin or holder, else you'll have to buy one separately.
- Invest in a pin cushion! There are so many cute ones on the market, or you can get crafty and make your own. Paopu fruit pin cushion, anyone?
One of the cheapest things you'll get for your cosplay toolbox, a set of pins will generally set you back between £2-5, depending on the type you choose.
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