Pins and Needles

The last couple of blogs have been pretty detail-heavy with the Quilt-It-Before-You-Applique-It technique.  So, this blog is going to be a little less labor intensive for me and a little more of the lighter-reading variety for you.


We’re month four into 2018’s theme of Quilting with Excellence.  We’ve covered some techniques, some quilters, and have blown some quilting myths out of the water (such as you don’t always need a ¼-inch seam).  But anyone that has a real passion for throwing the best part of themselves into any work will tell you that knowing where all your tools are and that they’re in good condition are  big parts of making any project a success.

Unfortunately, quilters aren’t always the best people to do that.  We’ve a creative bunch by nature and making that next quilt is always way more exciting than cleaning up after the last one. And we tend to run to groups – we sew with this bee, quilt with this guild, attend this retreat – and it’s easy to lose track of where everything is at.  Did I leave my rotary cutter in that bag or this box?  Where the heck did I put those applique scissors?

Been there a few times myself…so I’m preaching to the choir here.


Some hard, fast advice I can give here is this:  When you’ve finished a project, simply take the time to put everything away – the pattern, the left-over fabric, notions, etc.  Put them back where they’re supposed to go.  The same thing goes for that sewing bag or box you take with you to class, retreats, or sit-and-sews.  If you use the tools in that bag or box on a daily basis, unpack it when you get home.  Both of these tips serve a two-fold purpose:  First, it keeps you organized because you’re putting your notions back where they go.  Second, it allows you to take a moment to inspect your tools.  Blades may need sharpening or changing.  Needles may need to be replaced.  It’s important to take the time to do this to keep your quilting tools in tip-top shape and make life easier for you – the next time you need to use your scissors or rotary cutter or sewing machine, it will be in the best condition possible.

Let’s park it here and talk about pins and needles.  I’ve written detailed blogs in the past about needles (both hand sewing and machine) and pins.  The one thing that all of these sharp, pointy items have in common is that they grow dull through time and use and need to be replaced.  Regular machine needles should be replaced after eight hours of sewing time.  If they’re titanium needles, you can double that time.  But often they can develop a burr or bend before those hours are up.  If your machine begins to skip stitches or generally just give you a fit, first check to make sure it’s threaded correctly and then check your needle.  A bad needle can bring a great deal of frustration.

Hand sewing needles are  different, but they dull through time and wear as do pins.  Needles and pins aren’t expensive, so do yourself a favor and replace them as often as needed.


But what do you do with the old ones? It’s risky just to throw in them in the garbage can, as they can poke through a liner and hurt your or whoever is taking out your trash.  We don’t want them loose in a landfill.  That could injure people or wild life.  And while you may know where your pins and needles have been, no one else does and that could cause anyone who is poked by one of them some real anxiety.

In the past, I used 35 mm film canisters to dispose of my needles and pins.  When one of those was full, I’d make sure the lid was snapped on securely and then toss it.  But who uses film to take pictures with any longer?  Everything is digital.  However, there still are some options:

  1. Tic Tac Cases. They’re ideal.  Drop them down through the tiny hole and when it’s time, snap it closed and toss it.
  2. Prescription Medication Bottles. Soak the bottle in hot, soapy water to get the label off then use it to store your used needles and pins.  When it’s full, snap on that child-proof lid and toss it.


I know we’ve focused primarily on needles, but remember, pins get dull, too.  Plan on replacing them every 18-24 months if you used them on a regular basis. I know some quilters rarely pin, but I do.  As a matter of fact, I need some more flower head pins now.


Continue to keep Meagan in your thoughts and prayers.    She is recovering well and actually ventured out today for a little while with her husband at the wheel.  She sees her doctor next week and we will get the pathology report on her margins then.

Until next week, Quilt with Excellence!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: