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Random bits of my life

Pin Stitch Tutorial – Part 2

Posted by Avital Pinnick on August 14, 2009

In the first part, Pin Stitch Tutorial – Part 1, you learned how to start a thread with a pin stitch.

This part teaches you how to end a thread with a pin stitch. This, for me, is the best part because it makes “confetti” stitch embroideries (where you make a single stitch with a colour, end the thread, start a new colour, etc.). Making one or two stitches at a time with a single colour is extremely tedious and running the ends into the back of the piece can make it very bulky.

Most explanations of ending a thread with the pin stitch have you work the pin stitch underneath the finished stitch. This has two major disadvantages: the stitch becomes very thick with all that thread underneath (particularly if you have also begun the same stitch with a pin stitch) and when working on finer counts of fabric (36 count linen, 18 count aida), there isn’t much room to manoeuver the needle under the stitch. The stitch itself is easily pulled out of shape.

I believe this is my own innovation, to end the thread in a spot where it will be covered by another stitch, but not in a place where a new thread must be begun. This keeps the bulk of thread ends buried under the stitches to a minimum.

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.

Ending a thread with a pin stitch

1. Choose a stitch to end the thread. Remember that it must be a stitch where you will not be beginning a new thread, so the middle of a block or row of one colour is a good choice.

2. Bring the needle upwards, between two threads (or the center of the block, if using aida) at the bottom of the stitch.

Pin stitch end 1

3. Insert the needle down into the center of the block or the center of the two threads.

Pin stitch end 2

4. Pull the needle underneath so that the stitch is tightened. It should be a tiny stitch in the lower half of the square. I know it doesn’t look like much but it does do the job.

Pin stitch end 3

5. Bring the needle up in a nearby hole (it doesn’t matter which) and cut the tail flush with the fabric on the right side.

Pin stitch end 4

That’s it! Now you can start a new thread without having to turn your frame over, bury the ends, and so on.

39 Responses to “Pin Stitch Tutorial – Part 2”

  1. Jas said

    Thankyou so much for this!
    I am a convert.
    Bless you for saving me heaps of time ending off and no knots! X

    • Avital Pinnick said

      It really is a great time-saver, especially if you use a large embroidery frame which isn’t easy to turn over. My frame is clamped in a floor stand, so it’s easiest to work from the front.

  2. SJ said

    I think i just got so excited about confetti…*off to stich I go* ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Phee said

    Brilliant……thank you again!

  4. Lori said

    But what if the confetti is an “island” no other stitches beside it? How do you end it then?

    • Avital Pinnick said

      If the confetti stitch is close to a bunch of stitches that are the same colour (but different from the confetti stitch colour), I end in one of those stitches so that it will be covered by the different colour. If the confetti stitch is surrounded by other confetti stitches, I either end underneath the same stitch, which can be a bit tight, or I end in a place where another confetti stitch will be stitched on top of that (and I end the second confetti stitch in another blank spot, to be covered by another confetti stitch … and so on … and so on) ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Lori said

    Thank you for your reply. What I meant was, what if the confetti is a stand alone… no other stitches around it. I guess you end underneath the same stitch then. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Vicki said

    I used the other method, but like this much better, but not quite sure about making a horizontal or parallel stitch when using Aida

    • Avital Pinnick said

      I use it with Aida all the time. You make the pin stitch in a direction that’s parallel with the threads filling the square of Aida and it “disappears” inside the threads!

  7. Vicki said

    Ok, still don’t get it… if you go down in the middle, come up underneath at bottom, that makes a vertical stitch…so how do you make a horizontal?

  8. After I finish going down and up to create the pin stitch and now go to a corner and come up and cut the thread I find the cut off thread popps loose in the back. I pull the stitch tight and then come up at a near corner and then when I work over this area with more stitching the thread becomes loose in the back. Help.. This is a great way of keeping the back neat and flat.

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Maybe you’re working on a very loose fabric or with a slippery embroidery thread like “artsilk”? I suggest that you not cut the thread tail until after you’ve worked the first stitch. That way, there will be enough thread on top and underneath the fabric to hold that tail in place. Good luck!

  9. Vicki said

    When I cut the tail instead of cutting close to fabric I leave about a quarter inch so it doesn’t come out until I stitch over it…I come up in the corner where the thread is, make the stitch and cut it real close

    • Avital Pinnick said

      I often do that too, especially if the thread is a little worn and keeps popping through to the back. Whatever works!

  10. Judith said

    great tutorial, use it often

  11. Aneta Vaught Thomas said

    Thank you for your help. I have wanted to do better stitches for years but did not know how until now!

  12. I can’t wait to give this a try! I am/was getting so tired of having to flip my hoop over every time that I needed to end a color! I hope that I will be a to get this very soon!

    • Avital Pinnick said

      I have a floor-stand for my embroidery frame, which doesn’t allow easy access to the back of the frame. This technique saved my sanity!

  13. Sue said

    I have been doing counted crosstitch for 32 years, and embroidery for even longer-41 years. I just started this pin stitch technique today and am loving it…that is the “”starting pin stitch as outlined on the other page. Now to try this! Thanks.

  14. pascale said

    merci beaucoup pour ces explications trรจs claires et trรจs utiles.
    Thank’s a lot for these clear and useful explanations

  15. S. Lynn Wells said

    I found your site while doing a search for help with “parking”. but after looking around your space, I found the pin stitch tutorial.
    Thanks for this! I am using it and loving the results. It is so much better than the constant flipping the piece and running the threads under other stitches. Before the pin stitch, I stayed clear of projects with small areas of multiple color changes or from using hand-dyed fibers, so I became bored. But now, my stitching is very relaxing and fun. Now I really get to stitch the projects I love. Plus it makes the back of the piece very neat.

    Thanks again.

    • Avital Pinnick said

      I found the technique useful when I discovered that flipping my work in the floor stand was a pain. With the pin stitch start/end, I can keep working from the top of the fabric, without having to remove the frame from the floor stand.

  16. Fabi said

    Thank you for these useful explanations but I have a question : do you use pin stitch with linen? Is it the same with the others fabrics? Thank you!

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Absolutely! But if you are using a fairly coarse linen (like 24 count), I recommend not cutting the thread tail until you have worked a few stitches. Otherwise the tail can pop out.

      • Fabi said

        Thanks ! I use your technique everyday and it’s fabulous!

        I’ve another question: do you have a pin stitch technique for lugana 25ct or 28ct , with one thread over one ( 1*1)?
        I’m stitching an haed but I don’t know how to start and finish my color.
        Thanks a lot and have a nice day.๐Ÿ˜Š

      • Avital Pinnick said

        Interesting question! I’ve never worked 1*1, although I hope to, if I ever finish the endless “Sense of Hearing.” Good luck on the HAED!

  17. I must have been hiding under a rock for the last 30 years. This is the first I’ve heard or seen of pin stitch. Your tutorial is wonderful. I like to strive for improvement so I hope to learn this. I am having trouble seeing as good as I used to so I am of to the optometrist with some fabric samples so they can see what I need stronger glasses for. Thank you !!!

  18. Kathryn said

    Hey Avital, since you’re using a Canon PowerShot, would you consider doing a video with your camera? I’d love to see this in action! I’m still a little confused. If nothing else, I’ll have to give it a shot to make sense of it!

  19. Rosalind Smith said

    Have come to this discovery late – but not too late, thankfully. Thank you so much for this tutorial. It will make my life so much easier as I am working on a piece with many, many colour changes and shading.

    • Avital Pinnick said

      If you’re working on a large piece, this method also saves having to flip the frame over to finish the threads on the back side of the piece. I’m working on a large frame in a floor stand and I would have to unclamp the frame to work on the back. This way I can always keep the front facing me. Good luck! Another tip– work those ‘confetti’ stitches when you’re not tired. Otherwise it just gets too frustrating and we forget that it’s supposed to be fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. brittany said

    I did not even know this was an option!!! I found your site when trying to learn how to start a pin stitch. Then I found out you can end on the front!?!?! Seriously, amazing. Thank you for explaining this so clearly.

    • Avital Pinnick said

      I was working on a big frame mounted on a floor stand. It was not easy to flip the frame over every time I began a new thread. This was a life-saver!!! Just make sure that the end is secure by tugging gently before you start the first stitch. With some fabrics, you might need to do a double pin stitch. Better to do an extra stitch than to have an end pop out after the piece is framed! Glad this helped.

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