Home » DIY Tutorials » DIY Sewing » Sewing Tip: No More Stubborn Straight Pins

Sewing Tip: No More Stubborn Straight Pins



Do you sometimes get angry at your straight pins?  You know, when you can’t wiggle them through that darn fabric?  Yeah…..pins aren’t really something to get angry at but, gahhhhh, nothing’s more aggravating while working on a project than finicky straight pins that won’t properly go through your fabric.  And usually they get stuck because there are several layers of fabric that I’m trying to get through……however, if you have a really cranky needle, even one single layer of fabric can be stubborn. And yes, sharpening the very tip of the needle is helpful too.  (You know that mini strawberry that hangs off the big tomato pin cushion?  Yeah, that has emery powder inside and can help sharpen a needle tip and smooth out any rust or nicks, etc.  However, even then, sometimes I still have trouble getting those sharpened needles through the fabric.)


But try this…….it will change your cranky straight pin world!  Just stick them right into a bar of soap, pull it out, and wah-laa……..all lubed up.  Go on, grab a bar of soap and try it, I know you’re intrigued. :) The soap gives the pin the slightest coating and helps that little pin move right through your fabric.  I’m serious, go give it a try. 



And you know, not all my pins are stubborn.  So, I just keep a bar of soap on a little plate near my sewing table.  While pinning a project, if I come across a dull needle, I stick it into the bar of soap……and then resume.  Pesky little pins aren’t gonna slow me down!



Oh, and have you ever been to the fabric store, and the lady behind the counter is trying to put the fabric back together on the bolt and pin the flap of fabric in place, and her pin gets stuck??  So she runs the pin through her hair?  Well, yep, she’s lubing that pin up with the grease of her hair.  (Have you actually seen that happen?  It actually kind of grosses me out a bit…..but every time I see someone do it, I know exactly why.  Maybe I should bring them a bar of soap on a plate as a gift.)


I have seen others dip their needles into wax but if you use soap, I feel like if there’s any sort of soap residue that gets onto the fabric, it will wash right out.  Wax is a little more tricky to wash out (even though it would only be a tiny amount)… in my brain, soap makes me worry a little less.


And the best part, that one little bar of soap will last you forever.  And ha, you thought you needed to keep buying new packages of straight pins.  Crisis averted! :)


Good luck!



Ashley Johnston
  • Save

Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
  • Save


  1. best kids clothing brands says:

    awesome article. Keep it up. <a href="">best kids clothing brands</a>

  2. Bonnie Dempsey says:

    Instead buying a bar of soap, I use the ones I get from the hotel rooms. Have one by my sewing machine and my sewing table.

  3. Dianna says:

    I want to thank my home economics teachers, Miss Mashburn and Mrs Jones, for teaching their classes what the strawberry on the tomato was for. That was ’61 or’62 and it has been a useful thing to know all these years.

  4. lonnie w says:

    when i was a child my parents worked for an adoption agency and fostered many, many babies over the years. back then there were only cloth diapers which had to be fastened with safety pins. i remember my mother running the pins thru her hair to make them easier to put thru the bulky diaper fabric. to this day i have always run a stubborn straight pin thru my hair and it works like a charm. (altho i do like your soap idea and may put it to use in my sewing studio!) thanks!

  5. Heidi says:

    My grandma taught me this trick when I was 8! Since then I have been making fabric covered soaps and occasionally selling them at bazaars or giving them as gifts to friends and family that sew. My 9 year old daughter has since taken over making them since they are so quick and easy to make. I love that you are passing on this great tip to everyone!

  6. Dorothy says:

    Hello Ashley,
    Well, I’m an old lady whose done sewing for over 50 years and never heard of this trick before! Also, never knew that the pincushion with the little bobble had a use other than for pushing pins intol – I thought it was just a bit of decoration. It just goes to show that we are never too old to learn; even in an area that we have been closely familiar with for years!

    In the UK there is generally less appreciation for “home-made”. This equates to something substandard in the minds of many who are not indulgers in craft work. Consequently, we have to label things “hand crafted” to uplift them in the minds of others. My point for mentioning this is that perhaps that is the reason that many of these tips don’t get passed on. I note that in the USA and Australia, hand crafted items are much more highly appreciated and pursued. (This is a lot of text to say “Thank you, so much.”)

  7. Kolleen says:

    Homemade soap works the best, especially if it is “freshly made.” As it cures, it gets harder and harder. Once the pins won’t go in easily, it’s time to use it in the shower and get a new one. I’ve asked my soap maker friends to pour some of their fresh batch into a pretty little dish and it works a treat for pins.

  8. Julie says:

    Great idea. And I agree about washing out wax & hair oil. Yuck. And being Canadian with French being one of the official languages, thought I’d share that wah-lah is the actually the French word “voila”.

  9. mel says:

    might not quite get the fragrance, but if you leave the bar of soap in it’s wrappings the pins go through the paper easily and if/when you happen to drop the bar of soap, the “shatterings” will stay in the wrapper. no mess to clean up. easy to just toss in your sewing drawer if you don’t have room on the desk, too.

  10. Sue Schneider says:

    Super great tip! Thank you!

  11. Nancy says:

    I used to have a farm and 122 sheep that I sheared myself. I wet felted a lot of wool in my time.

    Made my own pin cushion by rolling colored unwashed (leave the lanolin in) wool into a 6″ diameter snake. Once it’s felted, I sliced 4-5″ sections off, the put the flat side down and put my pins in the other side. The lanolin keeps the pins “greased” and by putting them in and out of the wool, it also keeps them sharp. Great item.

    If I ever have the energy I’ll make another “snake” and sell my pin cushions.

  12. Joanie says:

    I have Twirled a crochet hook through my hair to make yarn slide easily on the hook. I learned that a long time ago. I forgot all about that. Thank you for reminding me –great tip but I will buy Dove first for the pins

  13. Sue Os says:

    I wonder if Olive Oil soap would give them an extra bit of slideyness?

  14. Kim the girl says:

    I love this tip, thank you! Now, I know this is about sewing tips, but a bar of soap seems to be a versatile little tool… If you have a slding glass door that gets stuck easily, rub your bar of soap all along the track and it should slide smoothly again! Life changing tip for this momma! :-)

  15. Sewing12 says:

    I never thorough of that i tried it and it works thanks so much

  16. Sharlyn says:

    Sweet tip! I just got some clover clips, and really like them. Use a coupon at joann, they are expensive without, and with a coupon it’s still more than a box of pins, but it’s acceptable ;-)

  17. cucicucicoo says:

    You know, even though I have used this trick for diaper pins, it never occurred to me to use it for sewing pins! (head smack!) And so it’s true that the little strawberry sharpens! My mother has told me that many times, but I just never believed her because it never seemed to make any difference for me. Do you have any little tricks to share about that, too?! :) Lisa

  18. Cass says:

    Also try the bar of soap on a stubborn zipper. Run the soap up and down the teeth and voila! Zipper runs smoothly again!

    1. Ashley says:

      Ack! That’s brilliant. And yep, I imagine it works just as well. THANKS! :)

  19. Leeanne says:

    I have been a sewist for over 40 years and never knew that about the strawberry! Thank you, Ashley, for once again teaching this old dog a new trick!!!

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh, that’s funny…..yep, that strawberry is more than just a decoration.

      And just think, now you’re a new dog again! ;)

  20. Gaga says:

    I was the preferred baby sitter for my nephew when I was a teenager. We used cloth diapers then with diaper pins. After going through several layers of that cotton and then getting soaking wet, they were hard to get back in with the change to a dry diaper. Well, I just ran the open pin through my hair and it slid right through all those layers of cotton fabric. Might sound gross but it worked. And, with a fat toddler wanting to get up and move around, you did what you could to make the process faster!

    1. Ashley says:

      You know, now that you mention it, I remember my mom telling me about the same struggle with diaper pins. And with a wiggly baby trying to escape, you do whatever it takes!

      And you know, if I needed to lube up my pin and didn’t have soap around, I wouldn’t think it gross to do it to my own fabric and pin. But it sometimes throws me off to see the cutting clerk run the pin through her hair. I think it’s because I have kids in school……and am paranoid about head lice. Ha.

      I love hearing those old diaper-pinning stories though…..thanks for sharing! :)

  21. Preethi says:

    Wow! Have to cry this out.. what a great tip

    1. Ashley says:

      You’ll love it! :)

  22. Cherry Pulp says:

    My sewing room has now the good smell of a tiny rose soap ! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ashley says:

      Perfect, happy to know your sewing space has a happy scent now! :)

  23. Lori Jones says:

    you could also make a felted one (pin cushion). that way it would brake if it were to fall on the floor. and if it did you could just go wash your hands. hehe

    1. Ashley says:

      Ha……excellent idea!!! :)

  24. colette says:

    i knew that extra part on the tomato had to be for something! good tip with the soap!

    1. Ashley says:

      Haha……now you know!

  25. Emma says:

    I’ve never noticed anyone doing the hair trick. Now I’ll probably stare intently at the people cutting fabric – hope I don’t weird anyone out!

    1. Lori Jones says:

      i have use the Hair trick a number of times! really works

    2. Ashley says:

      Haha…..just wait. They’re quick about it too. :)

      And you know, if I needed to lube up my pin and didn’t have soap around, I wouldn’t think it weird to do it to my own fabric and pin. But it sometimes throws me off to see the cutting clerk run the pin through her hair. I think it’s because I have kids in school……and am paranoid about head lice. Ha.

  26. Lorena says:

    ARE YOU SERIOUS?! what an insane brilliant (why didn’t I think of that) tip!
    so usually when I have a snaggy, pesky or possibly wonky pin…I toss it. I hope I’m not the only one. lol
    Like other poster mentioned, this might even give a pleasant smell, cause I love my Dove :-) doink! I made a rhyme lol
    thank you for sahring your tips and craetivity, LOVE your blog.

    1. Ashley says:

      Haha, believe me, I’ve been known to toss pins too. :)

      And yes, Dove is my favorite… I don’t mind the scent one bit. :)

  27. HorseMark Cards says:

    I love this idea! I will purchase a bar of Dove soap and put it in a pretty soap dish and set it by my sewing machine too! The aroma of Dove soap reminds me of my dear grandmother so it will fill my creative room with memories of her! Thanks so much for sharin this fantastic and useful idea! Enjoy your creative day! ~~ Vickie

    1. Ashley says:

      Perfect idea! And I love that Dove reminds you of your grandma. There’s something about Dove bars that I really, really love too. Mmmmm. :)

  28. Judy says:

    You need to squeeze the little strawberry when you run the pins in and out of it.

    1. Ashley says:

      Yes, that’s good advice. Thanks!

  29. Katie says:

    I don’t use pins very often so it’s not a pain I come across on a regular basis, but this is good to know! These days I mostly only use them if I have to sew curves or gathers. For everything else I either skip holding things together entirely (I KNOW!) or use the Clover clip things.. love those so much!

    1. Ashley says:

      Yeah, I try to take shortcuts and skip the pins too. But sometimes, I just can’t skip it. :)

      And I’ve never used those clover clips. I should probably get some for leather and vinyl and other fabrics that leave holes from the pins. Thanks for mentioning those! :)


  30. Sheila says:

    I never knew that’s why the strawberry was there! It has always just flopped around and annoyed me. I’m so glad I read this. :)

    1. British American says:

      I had no clue either! I figured it was just decoration!

    2. Anonymous says:

      Same here! When I read this my mouth dropped open and I was like “Whaaa??” I’m so excited to go push all my pins through the strawberry or a bar of soap now! Thanks Ashley!!

    3. Ashley says:

      Hahaha……yeah, that annoying berry actually has a purpose. This post was a 2-for-1 for several of you. Love this! :)

    4. Heather says:

      Same here! How do you know these things?? I thought the strawberry was just some strange decor. I bet my MOM might not even know this!

      I did know the soap trick, though. My mom used it in the old days when she’d pin cloth diapers on my baby brother :)

    5. Marlene says:

      I also used it for cloth diaper pins with my oldest. Now they make those handy clips for prefolds, but my youngest pees so much she needs heavy duty fitted diapers and never wears prefolds, pins or no pins!

    6. Chris says:

      I did the diaper pin through my hair in the 60’s!!

  31. Annette says:

    And it makes your sewing room smell good! Thanks!

    1. Ashley says:

      Ahhhh…….so true!

    2. Carolyb says:

      Soap and wax are also good to help a sticky zipper zip easier, just rub some on the teeth of the zipper..Happy sewing and zipping

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

Back to Top
Share via
Copy link