Does anyone still use safety pins?

Published 10:22 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

This week I am going to keep you on pins and needles.

Not really needles, but at least pins. While looking for something in my junk drawer, I came across some safety pins. Does anyone use safety pins any more?

First, what is a safety pin? Wikipedia describes it as a regular pin with a simple spring and clasp. Walter Hunt of New York received a patent for the pin.  Hunt’s pin was a needle with a closed loop in the middle and a cover on the end of the pin to protect the user from the sharp point and to help hold it in place.

They are generally made of metal wire such as brass or stainless steel.

In 1891, Walter Hunt of New York sold the patent design for $400. He sold the patent to the W. R. Grace Company and little did he know that it would make millions of dollars in profits.

The safety pin was invented while Hunt was twisting a piece of wire, trying to think of something that would help him pay off his $15 debt.

Ancient Greeks used pins made of gold and bronze between the 13th and 14th century There was no clasp at the end to help put it in place. Over the centuries it became forgotten.

Safety pins have many purposes and are frequently used to pin two items together. In the 1970s the pins were worn as punk fashion, both on clothes and as piercing’s. Here are other uses for safety pins other then holding fabric together. They can be used to pin a pair of socks together before going into the laundry. Heavy pins can be used to hold pants or skirts together. The gap in your curtains or drapes can be closed with a pin. The point can be used to clear the holes of a saltshaker.  I found the most useful was to replace a string or tie in either pants or a bathing suit.

Placing the pin on the end of the string makes it easier to move it along the tunnel of fabric.

You can stop static cling of your skirt sticking to your tights. Fasten a small safety pin to the skirt lining or your slip. The metal in the safety pin will conduct electricity and divert the static.

One of the biggest uses, which is no longer needed was as a diaper pin. The baby’s cloth diaper was held together on each side with a pin which often had a cute animal head and came in various colors.

Other ways to use a safety pin is as a piece of jewelry. Earrings, chains and wristbands can be made.

Hope that all of this kept you on pins and needles.

“On pins and needles” is described as “in a state of tense anticipation.”

I’ll bet you were.


Jo-Ann Boepple works at the Edwardsburg Area History Museum.