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Safety pin basting - when to remove the pins

by Noreen
(Thornhill, Ontario, Canada)

Can the safety pins be removed after sections of the quilt have been stitched?


Absolutely! Positively!

As an area of your quilt is stitched you SHOULD remove the pins that are closest to the stitching. Get those little bad boys out of the way!

The quilting lines you've created have taken over the job the safety pins were doing of holding the layers together when they were first inserted and closed.

And as you've probably experienced, the closed safety pins can sometimes catch on each other. Fewer pins means less opportunity for them to do that.

How many to remove?

Now that's another question.
Close-up of the pebble quilting

When I pin-baste my quilts, I don't consider it fully basted until there's at least a pin or two underneath my palm as I lay it flat on the quilt sandwich. If I'm going to be doing some really dense quilting (like the pebble background fill shown right) then I use even more pins.

Other quilters (Laura Heine is one that comes to mind) recommend pin basting as close as 2" apart...personally, to me...that seems excessive...BUT...if that is what works for the individual quilter, than that is what works and I'm not going to argue with that.

What if you removed too many?

It happens.

You can definitely go and add more safety pins back into your quilt.

However, if it's a smallish area, consider using straight pins. They're faster to add. I find there's less chance of pinning a tuck into the back.

The only concern is that you stick yourself and accidentally get blood on your quilt. That's why it's important that it's a small area.

Noreen, I hoped this has helped.

Thank you for your question.


Julie Baird

Comments for Safety pin basting - when to remove the pins

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by: Terry

What the best way to remove a straight pin from a quilt that has already been quilted. It was found about 3 months after completion.

From the Editor:

In a word...carefully. I'm assuming that the pin in between the layers of the quilt?

If there is no head (like the old dressmaker's pins with a flat metal head not a glass ball) you may be able to work it out through the fabric. Again, careful is the almost an understatement.

Personally, I would undo what stitching I needed to do to get it out and then repair and re-quilt.

It may make more sense to take it out from the backside, less to repair.

Without having a better idea, that's the best I can answer at this time.

I wish I could be of more help.



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