Using sewing pins is the time-tested standard, but sewing clips are a recent invention that many sewists now prefer over pins. Learn about sewing clips vs pins, which ones are better, and the brands I recommend.
It seems sewing pins have been around forever. They’re part of a sewist’s essential supplies just like thread and needles, and used for all sewing levels, from beginner to advanced.
I learned to sew using sewing pins and have always used them. However, in the last few years, I noticed the introduction of sewing clips and have begun to see many sewists strictly using them instead of pins.
It piqued my curiosity – could they be better than traditional pins?
Whenever there is a change to the “old ways,” inevitably, there’s a debate over whether the new idea is better than the tried and true. That’s certainly been the case regarding sewing clips vs pins. Are they really worthwhile addition to your sewing toolkit? If so, why are they better, and which ones are the best?
If you’re just now learning about sewing clips and wondering if you want to add them to your sewing repertoire, I’m covering everything you need to know!
Attention! If you like the video format, at the bottom of this post, look for a YouTube video version where there is a quick tutorial on sewing clips vs pins. For a more complete picture, I recommend exploring both versions.
What Are Sewing Clips?
Sewing clips look similar to small plastic hair clips. But instead of an interlocking grip that holds hair, these clips have a flat grip, to hold a few layers of fabric.
These clips are colorful plastic clamps made up of three pieces: a lower plastic flat piece, an upper plastic curved piece, and the metal tension spring. They’re designed to easily spring open and closed while still securely holding pieces of fabric together in place as you sew.
The first (and still most well-known) brand of sewing clips was Clover’s Wonder Clips, and because of this, people often call sewing clips (no matter what brand they’re referring to) Wonder Clips.
Sewing Clip Features
These little clips have some useful features that make them quite handy in the sewing room:
- A flat base – to keep your project flat on a sewing machine and for easy feeding the fabric to the presser foot
- Variety of bright colors – so you don’t lose them in your project (or on the floor!).
- Different sizes – so you can use the right size for the project you’re working on.
What is a guide scale on a clip? Some sewing clips come with measurement guides for seam allowances (more about them below). You’ll find labeled markings on the base of the clips, which are supposed to help you keep your seam allowance even and straight throughout your project.
What Are Sewing Clips Used For?
They’re great for holding multiple layers of fabric together and working with all kinds of fabric. Although they were originally designed to help quilters with basting, sewists quickly realized that they work very well for many types of projects, including bag-making, dressmaking, and more!
Plus, they’re highly preferred over pins when working with silk, vinyl, leather, and other fabric where you don’t want to see holes from pins.
I use them all the time for quilt binding and many other projects. Let’s look at some examples so you can see how they work in practice.
Here is my Bargello quilt – I used sewing clips to hold the binding in place. If you would like to see how to make Bargello quilts, here is my step-by-step tutorial.
In the image below, I am using sewing clips to attach binding for my Quilted Christmas table runner.
In this image, I am making a makeup bag and sewing over a piece of clear vinyl using sewing clips to hold it in place. The step-by-step tutorial is called DIY Makeup Bag | Easy Project with Step-by-step Instructions
In the next image, I use sewing clips to bind a fabric circle.
And this is the finished project you might be interested in.
Are Sewing Clips Better Than Pins?
Sewing clips and sewing pins are both used in the process of sewing, but they each have their own unique benefits that make them better suited for certain tasks than others.
I do not see one as being better than the other. Instead, I think they are just helpful for different things. You will certainly find some overlap because there are definitely many items you can use either for.
But you might find yourself preferring one over the other after learning all the facts.
Truth be told, I continue to use pins in many of my projects. Pins still have their place because they are time-tested and can do some things that sewing clips don’t do as well.
However, clips are versatile and don’t have some of the problems that pins have, such as poking you or getting lost on the floor if you drop them.
Sewing Clips: Advantages And Disadvantages
Sewing clips are very new compared to traditional pins, and one example of how a new invention can improve upon the time-tested favorite.
Advantages Of Using Sewing Clips
Here are some of the advantages that sewing clips have over pins:
- Easier To Use – Clips are easier to insert and remove than pins, and they don’t bend. Their larger size also makes them easier to see and work with for people who have eyesight or wrist problems.
- Variety Of Colors And Sizes – Find exactly what you need, so you have the right tool for the job every time.
- Safer Than Pins – You don’t have to worry about getting poked with pins! Plus, they’re too big to be a choking hazard, so they’re safer around kids.
- Fewer Clips Needed – Each clip covers more length than a single pin, so you can use fewer clips over the entire project.
- Less Likely To Get Lost – The bulkier size and bright colors make finding clips easier in your project or when dropped on the floor, so no one accidentally steps on them and gets poked.
- Great For Larger Variety Of Fabrics – Clips work better on slippery material, bulky fabric, and fabrics where you don’t want to risk making holes like vinyl and leather.
- Stronger Hold – Pins can slip and cause your fabric to slip out of place. Clips don’t slip or distort the fabric. And they hold multiple layers of fabric when seaming or binding.
- Won’t Damage Patterns – Clips have a strong hold but won’t tear or pierce your patterns, so you can use them to hold patterns on the fold.
- Make Seaming Knits Easier – Knits often have edges that roll, but clips can flatten out those edges to make sewing them much easier.
Disadvantages Of Sewing Clips
Nothing is perfect, and that’s also true with sewing clips! Here are a few areas where pins are still superior:
- Leave Marks On Fabric – Clips won’t make holes in the fabric, but they can sometimes leave indentations. But it’s not a big deal: these indentations are almost invisible and disappear in a few minutes anyway. Also, you can’t leave them in the fabric overnight. Make the seams right away after you use them.
- Bulk – Their larger size is better for visibility and working with thick fabrics. However, the downsides are that they are bulky and make your project heavier, they also require more storage area.
- Durability – Some people have trouble with the plastic pieces of their clips breaking or clips lose their tension and don’t hold fabric anymore. I have personally never had that problem, but I have definitely had pins bend and rust.
- Can’t Sew Or Iron Over Them – Because they’re plastic and bulky, you can’t sew right over clips or iron them without damaging your iron, fabric, or your sewing machine.
- Limited Area Where You Can Use Them – Sewing clips is designed for use along hems and fabric edges. You can’t place them in the center of your project like you can with pins.
- Add Weight To Fabric – When you’re working with lightweight and delicate fabrics, clips can add unwanted weight and make maneuvering fabric difficult.
- Cost – Although sewing clips aren’t expensive, they cost more compared to sewing pins.
How To Use Sewing Clips
They’re very easy to use! Once you have your fabrics lined up, push down on the big end of the clip to open it up. Place the open mouth where you want it and release the pressure to clamp down on the fabric.
To remove the clip, simply push down to open the clip, then pull it off of and away from the fabric.
When To Use Sewing Clips vs Pins
It’s good to have both pins and sewing clips in your sewing supply box. I use the clips for projects that use thick fabric, multiple layers, or fabric that’s slippery or will show holes.
However, I still prefer using pins when aligning darts, basting the center of a project, or working with elastic.
Below is an image from my tutorial on How to sew darts.
And in this image, you can see me using pins in the center of the project where sewing clips can’t be used at all. Here I am making a flutter sleeve for my summer dress and I needed pins for holding pleats.
Where To Buy Sewing Clips
You’ll need to look for them at your local fabric store or online. You can find sewing clips anywhere you can purchase sewing pins. Check JoAnn Fabrics, and Amazon – there are plenty of places where you will be able to get what is needed.
Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means I will receive a commission if you order a product through one of my links. I only recommend products I believe in and use myself.
Best Sewing Clips To Use In 2022
I recommend looking for a reputable brand that makes durable, strong clips that hold the fabric tightly. Here are a few reliable options:
Clover Wonder Clips
This is THE brand name when it comes to sewing clips, which means they are more expensive than other sewing clip brands and much more expensive (per piece) than sewing pins.
The Clover wonder clips I bought did come with a handy wrist cushion, which I found very useful (similar to a wrist cushion for pins).
MumCraft Multipurpose Sewing Clips
I bought both Clover and these MumCraft clips and carefully inspected them for differences. They are practically identical, as you can see in the picture, but the MumCraft clips were much cheaper. On the Clover Wonder clips, it’s written JAPAN. I didn’t notice any difference in their ability to hold the fabric.
MumCraft sewing clips come in a cute tin box and there are 100 of them!
Taylor Seville Magic Clip Sewing and Quilting Clips
Taylor Seville sewing clips are also a popular choice. But they differ from the Wonder clips in a couple of important ways: the top piece isn’t curved, and they have an additional long metal piece with markings. The manufacturer says that we can sew over that metal piece, which means we don’t need to take them off.
So these ones are called Magic clips. I see that many people like them and leave good reviews on Amazon.
But I was completely disappointed when I bought them. They are much bulkier to use, they are really hard to open and insert especially if you have a few layers in a quilt. The measurements on the clip are completely useless. They say that you don’t need to take them off when you sew and the presser foot can go right over them. Well, it didn’t go well: my sewing machine didn’t like to go over metal and the fabric was distorted when the presser foot was on the metal part of the clip.
So here is my YouTube video. Check this out if you like to see a helpful video on sewing clips vs. pins (instead of reading).
Here are some questions I see readers frequently ask about sewing clips vs pins.
Clips are better than pins for certain things. For example, they’re great for many different types of fabric because they don’t leave holes as pins do.
They make it easier to manage multiple layers of fabric at once and prevent fabrics from slipping or shifting during stitching. You also won’t hurt yourself with them if you accidentally jab yourself as you might with a pin.
However, pins are still better for certain things. I prefer using pins when aligning darts, basting the center of a project, or working with elastic.
All things considered, I find it useful to have (and use) both sewing clips and pins.
Sewing clips can be used for a wide variety of sewing projects, from hemming to quilting. They are used for holding multiple layers of fabric together without slipping so you can sew seams, work with slippery fabric, or sew fabric where you don’t want to see holes, such as leather and vinyl.
You position your sewing clips much like you would position sewing pins. The main difference is that they are designed to be used around fabric edges, so you can’t use sewing clips in the middle of a project. Also, you can’t iron over or sew over clips, so you need to make sure to remove them at the right time when sewing or ironing.
There are a few different things you can use instead of pins when sewing:
--Sewing clips: These are small plastic clips that attach to the fabric and hold it in place.
--Basting tape: This is an adhesive tape that is used to temporarily hold the fabric in place while you sew.
--Spray adhesive: If you’re having trouble getting the fabric to stay in place, you can try spraying it with some spray adhesive. Just be careful not to get the adhesive on your needle or machine.
--Fabric weights: Another option is to use some fabric weights to keep the fabric in place. You can find these at most craft stores.
Now that you know all about sewing clips and pins, it is up to you which one you choose to use. Just keep in mind the benefits of each – the clips are a better fit for certain projects, while pins work well for others. Try out both and see which works better for you!
Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, save this pin (see below) on your sewing board so you can come to this tutorial later when you are ready to use sewing clips vs pins, and follow me on Pinterest for more tips, tutorials, and inspiration!