Pin Stitch Tutorial – Part 1
Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 14, 2009
I didn’t invent the pin stitch. I believe it was invented by a talented American stitcher named Mayté. I learned it from on-line forums and Web sites years ago, but recently haven’t been able to find it. So it seemed a good idea to put together my own tutorial.
The pin stitch is a neat, unobtrusive way to begin and end the thread in counted embroidery. Its advantages are that it can be worked from the front of the fabric (a big advantage for those of us who do not own a frame that flips over easily), it uses very little floss, it is secure, does not cause noticeable thickening of the stitch or back, and it is invisible.
I’ve worked these examples on 18-count aida, because that’s what my current project is worked on. This method works for 2×2 (cross-stitches over 2 threads) but it isn’t good for 1×1 cross-stitching because it tends to make the stitch too thick. I’ve used this stitch to secure the thread under satin stitch, chain stitch, and other stitches. It works well as long as the threads on top cover the area where the pin stitch is worked.
All photos are on my Flickr account. If you need to see a larger version, click the photo to go to the Flickr photo page. Click “All Sizes” to see the original size photo. All photos were taken with a Canon PowerShot S5, because it has such a great macro function.
Starting a thread with pin stitch
1. Insert the needle down in the center of the first stitch. (If you are using linen, insert the needle between the two threads of the stitch.)
2. Pull the needle until only a 1/4 inch (.5 cm) tail remains on the right side of the fabric.
3. While holding the thread tail with your fingernail, bring the needle up, one thread below where you started from. It should be aligned with the bottom of the stitch.
3. Hold the thread tail out of the way, and insert the needle down in the center of the stitch (the same place where you originally inserted the needle). Pull the thread tight, so that a nearly invisible stitch appears on the center/bottom half of the stitch. If you are using aida cloth, make sure that this stitch is parallel with the weave direction of the fabric in that square (in this case, the weave is running vertically, so the stitch is vertical; if the weave is horizontal, make a horizontal stitch). This stitch must be pulled fairly tightly, so that the end does not work itself loose after you cut it.
4. Bring the needle up in the corner to start the first stitch. I like to start my cross-stitches in the lower left corner.
5. Cut the tail close to the pin stitch (sorry, no photo. I was taking these photos myself and needed both hands to cut the thread).
The reason for cutting the thread now and not earlier in the process is because by bringing up the needle to begin the stitch, there will be very little tension exerted on the pin stitch, which might cause the end to pop through the fabric to the back. If you cut the thread right after making the pin stitch, a sharp tug can cause the end to pop out. That’s why you should cut the thread when the needle is on the right side of the fabric again.
6. Complete the first half of the cross-stitch by inserting the needle downwards in the upper right corner of the stitch.
The entire stitch is worked on the front of the fabric, which makes the back very neat. If you’ve ever tried to unpick this stitch, you will discover that it is quite secure. Because the pin stitch adds so little bulk, it is ideal for designs with lots of “confetti stitches” (isolated stitches, where you have to begin and end a single stitch in one colour).
The only important note is to make sure that the stitch is tightened before you cut the end. If you don’t tighten the stitch, the short end may work itself loose.
Part 2 will show you how to end a thread with a pin stitch.