Lovely reader Lavinia posed this question in the comments earlier this week:
I was wondering if you have a special technique for pinning flower pins to your clothes, because I find they damage my clothes, especially lighter fabrics (well, it’s a tiny hole but it still bothers me). This is why I pin my flower pins to my necklaces, belt loops of my low rise jeans and my bags. I know that there are those magnet thingies but I never saw them around here – do you use these or do you just not care about those miniature holes left by the pins?
First off, pinning flower pins (or any other sort of pin) to necklaces, belt loops, and bags are all brilliant ideas! But sometimes you want to wear pins on actual clothing, too. I don’t use the magnet thingys, but I do have tips and tricks I’ve discovered after many a year of being a “pin girl” to reduce the risk of holes in your clothes.
Questions to Ask Before You Decide to Pin
How heavy is the pin? The heavier the pin, the more weight pulling on your clothing. The more weight pulling, the bigger the risk of forming a hole. Light pins tends to leave few holes.
How thick in diameter is the stick (sharp, pointy part of the pin)? One reason pins can make holes is that if a pin’s stick is thicker than the weave of a fabric, it can tear the fabric instead of moving through natural gaps in the weave. The thicker the stick, the bigger a hole it will make.
How sturdy is the stick? A lot of of the cheaper pins I see in stores today have very weak sticks. If it’s easy to bend/bow the stick, then it’s easy to make a hole in your clothing since changes in the shape of the stick can put added tension on the cloth its pinned through.
How sturdy is the clasp? If the clasp of your pin (the piece that locks the stick into place) is loose and rotates freely, the edges are more likely to snag your clothing. Additionally, the pin is more likely to come lose, and falling pins have a way of taking some snagged fabric with them. The sturdier the clasp, the less likely a hole.
Where is the stick located on the pin? Ideally, you want the stick to be located near the top of a pin. That way, gravity works with you in keeping the rest of the pin flush against your body. When the stick is located towards the center, or below center, gravity will pull the top of the pin out, moving it away from your body and putting extra stress on the fabric.
How heavy is the fabric you want to pin through? The denser the material and the tighter the weave, the less likely you are to get a permanent hole from a pin. Loosely woven fabrics don’t “recover” from holes as well as thicker fabrics do. One exception to this is when a weave is so big that a pin can sit on it without any damage to the fabric.
Tricks to Help Mitigate Any of the Above Issues
Add some extra fabric inside your clothes. If the pin is too heavy for the fabric you’re trying to attach it to, putting an extra piece of fabric inside your clothing as a “stabilizer” works wonders. I have several little patches of felt, denim and twill that I’ll slip inside my cardigans before I put a pin on. By pinning the pin through both the cardigan and the extra fabric, I make the cloth sturdier and the pin is less likely to snag.
Massaging the fabric between your fingers. If you remove a pin and you see small holes from the stick, often massaging the fabric between your fingers is enough to work the weave back into place.
Wetting the fabric. If massaging isn’t enough, wetting the fabric and laying it flat to dry will usually make the holes disappear.
Replacing sticks and clasps. So many modern pins come with such rubbish sticks, that one way to prevent future holes is to remove the original sticks and clasps on pins (often they’ll just pry right off), sand down any rough spots on the pin, and then glue a new stick and clasp on.
Fabric glue. If you end up with a hole that just won’t repair itself, dabbing a little fabric glue around the spot can stop the hole from fraying or becoming any larger. Use sparing, and be sure to spot test the glue on the fabric first.
Remove pins as soon as possible. The longer a pins stays on clothing, the more likely a permanent hole will form.
Put clips onto pins. Many of my favorite pins double as hair clips. By clipping the pin to the edge of my clothing, I get the look of a pin without the holes. If a pin has a large enough surface are and didn’t come with a built-in hair clip, you can easily attach one.
Substitute earrings for pins. Most earring posts are thinner than tie-tack pin posts, so you can get the look of a tack pin with a much smaller hole by putting earrings on your clothing.