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Sewing Clips--Upgrade Your Notions!

February 22, 2021

What are sewing clips?  We have all the answers in our deep dive on sewing clips.  Even the most experienced sewer or quilter will find value in our overview of sewing clips, their uses, their measuring guides (YUP!) and we find out when to use them vs. pins.  

Sewing Clips Clever Clips Wonder Clips

Sometimes the cleverest solutions are the most simple--enter Clever Clips, our version of sewing clips.  Using clips instead of pins is easy, quick, and eliminates finger-pricking! While there will always be a place in the sewist's arsenal for pins, sewing clips are a safe and effective substitute.

First, what are sewing clips?

Sewing clips are plastic clips with an internal spring mechanism that can be used to clip together fabric.  Offered in a multitude of colors, the clips typically have measurement markings on the flat side (3/16" 1/4" and 3/8") and come in a variety of widths and lengths. The spring mechanism holds fabric (or whatever it is you're clipping) tightly.

Why would I use sewing clips over pins?

Sewing clips are quick to use, and can hold together multiple layers of fabric.  This is particularly important for quilters as they bind their quilts.  Clips also work nicely for curved seams or paper piecing.  

For bag and garment sewists, clips are an excellent choice when working with fabrics that can't or shouldn't be pinned, like vinyl, leather, or waxed canvas/cotton.  Moreover, they handle bulk very well; I sew a LOT of jeans, I'm always reaching for my clips when I'm flat-felling seams.  Clips are also a great choice for delicate fabrics (silk, satin, Liberty Tana Lawn) and knits (they help keep that pesky edge from rolling). What's also nice about clips is that it's basically impossible to sew over them (so no more broken needles)!

Are clips only for sewing?

Most definitely not! 

In fact, I first came across Clever Clips as a knitter.  Knitters use them to hold together their sweater pieces as they seam.  And for machine embroiderers, they're great for projects when you don’t want to hoop the fabric. Instead, you can clip the fabric to the stabilizer or the hoop itself.  They even come in handy around the house.  I caught my daughter using one as a bookmark.  And I've been known to clip a bag of chips shut, and to keep my bangs out of my eyes. They're also a bit easier to grip than a paperclip. 

So, in a nutshell:

Advantages of Sewing Clips vs. Pins

  • Sewing clips don’t distort the fabric.  Pins can leave an indentation which isn’t always desirable.  

  • Sewing clips won't prick your finger!

  • 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 damage

  • Clips don't bend like pins 

  • Easier to find when dropped! (and it hurts a lot less when you step on one with bare feet!).

  • Clips can be great for flattening the edges of fabric that tends to roll, such as knits. 

  • Most sewing clips have markings for different seam allowances - typically 3/16 inch, 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch for the standard size clips. 

  • Clever 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.

  • Clips play nicely with children.  If you're sewing with a child, sewing clips eliminate one of those potential dangers.

Pins do have some advantages, though. 

Advantages of pins over clips:

  • Pins can be placed more accurately vs clips, particularly if you are trying to line up dart lines or other pattern markings.
  • Fabric can shift with clips, vs. with pins it tends to have a more sturdy effect. 
  • Pins are less bulky, clips can get caught or “weigh down” your project as your sewing. 
  • Pins can be sewn over whereas clips need to be removed as you are sewing. 

I encourage you to try sewing clips with your next project.  Sometimes the simplest notions bring so much satisfaction!

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