Quilting Hack

Here is a tip for you. I have been wanting to try those little rubber tips that you can put on the end of your straight pin while basting a quilt sandwich together. Until now, I have used the curved safety pins when I baste my quilts. It takes time to fasten the pins when basting and even more time to remove the pins while quilting. That is actually the part that annoys me most, removing the pins when I am quilting. The little stubs that I have seen on other quilters blogs were intriguing. Until I looked at the price. They are kind of spendy, for my budget at least. Quilting is an expensive hobby obsession. If I can minimize some of the cost, I will. Sometimes this means buying fabric or notions at estate sales and thrift shops or choosing not to buy some of the many gadgets that are available (and oh-so-tempting.)

I was mentioning my surprise at the price of these little stubs to my husband and asked him what else I might use. He immediately suggested the little ear protection plugs he uses when working with power tools or using the chain saw. Isn’t he brilliant? I looked around online and saw that there was already some discussion of using the earplugs in this way on an old forum.

A quick search on Amazon showed myriad choices of ear protection. I purchased a jar of Sound Blocker ear plugs which was priced at $17.95 for 30 pair.  Thirty pair provides 60 individual pieces. Cutting each one in half nets out 120 stubs. The originals are priced at .35 each and this method sets the cost at .15 each. In all honesty, I didn’t do a great job of pricing these plugs when I purchased them. There are others listed on Amazon that look to be the same and are priced even lower. While the price difference that I ended up with was good, it could have been even lower. When they arrived, I unwrapped about 15 of the little packets and quickly cut each plug in half using my regular craft scissors


I gave these a try for the first time when I was basting the baby quilt that I made with the orphan blocks. It was a bit awkward at first. The ear plugs squish down with the least bit of pressure and I thought they wouldn’t work bec ause of this. Not so. I think they are supposed to be squishy like that if  you are using them in your ears, as they are intended. I found that when I put them on the ends of the pins, the natural shape was restored after a bit. Kind of like they deflated when I put one on a pin and then it puffed back up. They held to the end of the pin quite well. I think I had only one fall off the whole time I was quilting.

When I was experimenting with these, I cut a few of them into three pieces, rather than in half. (I suppose one can be too frugal though.) They were not long enough and the tip of the pin would poke through the other end of the plug. One of the purposes of using these is to protect your fingers and hands from being poked so this wasn’t exactly helpful. 😉


I am happy with the results so far. It will be interesting to see how long these last. I love taking regular pins, instead of safety pins, out of the quilt while quilting. In addition, I can use a thinner pin since I am not using the safety pins. The safety pins leave a larger hole than my sharp pins, especially with batiks.

Hope this is helpful to you. If you have tried this already, let me know your thoughts.

Linking to Freemotion by the River and Let’s Bee Social. You’ll find their links at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

21 thoughts on “Quilting Hack

  1. JanineMarie

    Great idea! Congrats to you (or should I say Ray?) on your frugal take on those little tips. Remember to keep track of your savings so you can apply that extra cash directly to fabric purchases. It’s a quilting rule that all money saved must be spent immediately on quilting. I’m intrigued by your pins, though. Is there a significance to the arrow and R on the heads? I haven’t seen those before.

    1. Bernie Post author

      I love my pins! They were given to me by my neighbor, Reta, when she moved a few years ago. She was such a quilting mentor for me. When she moved, she gave me a lot of her fabric and notions. And batting scraps, lots of batting scraps. I always assumed that the R was for Reta. I think she reads a lot of these posts… Reta?? Is that what the R was for? When I first started using them, Ray asked me where the “L’s” were. He thought the pins were for marking things as Right and Left. 🙂

  2. Linda

    Our husbands are soooooo cool! Isn’t it wonderful when you include them in your search for a solution and they deliver so grandly? 🙂

  3. Colleen

    This is the web site of the woman who developed those “little stubs”.
    I don’t know either you or her. I believe she deserves to be credited for her product.

    I agree her product is expensive for the initial purchase but so is a sewing machine or really nice sewing scissors or any number of our sewing tools .
    They work well and were developed by a fellow quilter.
    As you said you don’t know how long your “hack” will last and that squishy part sounds iffy .
    So perhaps the original product may end up being a less expensive tool and be less pokey.
    I don’t know
    Maybe if you used your hack product and her original product side by side for a time
    Oh and she is kind of local Santa Cruz

    1. Bernie Post author

      Colleen, thank you for providing info on the original maker for these. You are quite right that most all of the tools we use are quite expensive. This is just an alternative that I am trying. I have posted several ways that I try to keep costs down including upcycling fabric wherever I can and purchasing fabric and tools at thrift and estate sales. I appreciate your feedback.


  4. Gayle

    I purchased a large jar of earplugs for that exact purpose a few years ago. It works quite well on small projects but was a bit too pokey when I tried it on a lap quilt. I did like the smaller holes and it isn’t as fatiguing on your hands as safety pins. I always try to keep the sharp end of the pin within the foam. I found them easier to remove during quilting too; especially when I’d get carried away and get my foot too close.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Thanks Gayle. I have a lap quilt that I am going to baste today. I will give these a try and see how it goes. Have a good day!

    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you Deb. Enjoy your day. We have a break between rains so I am getting a few errands done. Tomorrow promises to be rainy again. Yay!

    2. Bernie Post author

      Thanks Deb! Maybe it will come in handy for you some time. Though you often quilt by hand so maybe it isn’t as big a deal for you?

    1. Bernie Post author

      I think it is a nice solution to the tedium of opening and closing safety pins. Basting quilts is definitely not my favorite part of the process. ?

  5. Heather

    Wow this is a great idea. I’m going to try this. I always end up with a bandaid protecting my finger when I’m securing basting pins.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hope it goes well. I did the baby size quilt without any problems. Yesterday I pin basted a quilt that is about 60×70 so we’ll see how it does with the bigger size. Take care Heather! Nice to see you posting again. I wondered where you were!

  6. Diane

    I like your idea. OOPS husband’s idea must give credit where credit is do. I always use safty pins to baste my quilts but it would be nice to use straight pins. I am going to try this. Blessings to you. Diane

  7. CindyM in Oregon

    Hi Bernie: Interesting idea. I use “Base Ten Rods”. If you have children you may have seen them before. I originally got them because I homeschool 2 of my grandsons and they came in a math manipulatives set. I found some online and bought some to use for quilting as I couldn’t afford the pinmoors either although I liked the idea. They work very well and are much smaller than the earplugs. If you get the “10’s” rods you can cut them any size. The “ones” rods are kind of small, but I tried those first. I have been using them about a year through maybe 6 quilts and they keep going strong. People–if you buy these online make sure you are getting the FOAM ones not the plastic ones–the plastic will not work. I can’t paste a picture here and don’t want to endorse any specific seller, so just google it. There are lots of places to buy these.

  8. Diane Warburton

    Thanks Bernie. This post is still being found! I couldn’t remember the name of the original soft headed flat pins, so not only do I have that info now but I also have some more input in to the whole matter of hacks. I’m off to get some earplugs to see how they work first.


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