Sewing Clips vs Pins: which should I use (and when)?

While sewing pins have been around for hundreds of years, there's a new kid on the block - sewing clips.

With every change, there is a debate of whether out-school is best or is the new thing an improvement. Sewing clips vs pins - which is better? When should you use clips? When should you use pins?

Here's everything you need to know about sewing clips:

Sewing clips vs sewing pins - which is better and when?

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Advantages of Sewing Clips

Here are some of the advantages of using wonder clips rather than pins:

  • Sewing clips are super easy to use. You can easily slide them under the edge of the fabric to hold in position, and they don't distort the fabric.
  • The clips easily hold multiple layers of fabric, especially thicker fabrics. This makes them perfect for binding and bag-making.
  • Sewing clips don't leave holes in your fabric, so they are perfect for fabrics like leather, vinyl and cork where pinholes don't disappear.
  • Sewing clips don't snag delicate fabrics, causing runs.
  • Sewing clips don't bend like pins do (particularly if on thicker fabrics. They also won't stab you (and it hurts a lot less when you step on one with bare feet!).
  • When using a serger, it's much harder to accidentally sew over a clip like you can with a pin, which can damage your serger knife (or worse).
  • Clips can be great for flattening the edges of fabric that tends to roll, such as jersey.

Sewing clips have a few added features compared with sewing pins:

Close up view of a sewing clip showing the seam allowance markings.

  • Most sewing clips have markings for different seam allowances - typically 3/16 inch, 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch for the standard size clips. 
  • Wonder clips also have a flat side and curved side. Placing them with the flat side down means they are less likely to get caught as the fabric feeds into your sewing machine.

Disadvantages of Sewing Clips

Not everything is wonderful about sewing clips though. Here are some of the disadvantages of sewing clips:

  • Sewing clips can not be placed as accurately as sewing pins. Particularly if you are trying to line up dart lines or other pattern markings.
  • Fabric in the clips can shift accidentally, particularly if the clips get caught on something. This can also occur if you are stretching or easing one layer of fabric or elastic.
  • Sewing clips are bulkier than pins. This can weigh down or stretch your fabric as it feeds into the sewing machine.
  • The clips must be removed before the fabric goes under the presser foot, whereas pins can feed under the presser foot (or even sew over them, although that's not recommended). This can also result in fabric shifting, particularly when aligning curves or corners.

When to use Pins vs Sewing Clips

Personally, I like to have both sewing clips and pins in my sewing supplies. I turn to my pins when aligning dart legs or other pattern markings that required precision.

I prefer pins for sewing elastic to fabric, where I am stretching the elastic as I sew. Similarly, if I'm sewing a band or binding where one layer of fabric is stretched to meet the other, I find pins are more secure.

Alternatives to Sewing Clips

Now, you don't have to buy wonder clips to get the clip sewing experience. There are a few alternatives that you may have lying around the house. 

  • Raid your office supplies and use some binder/fold-back clips (or even paper clips, although they only work on stiffer fabric).
  • Head to your laundry and grab some pegs.
  • Hair clips can also be used to keep your fabric together (and they're even sold as quilt binding clips!)

While sewing clips are great to have in your sewing kit, they're not essential. If you're just starting out and can't afford a lot of supplies, I'd start with pins as they are cheaper and can be used for more sewing tasks. But if you're looking to add to your notions, sewing clips are a great tool to add to your arsenal.