Shawl Pin Tutorial

I’ve copied this post to my new website because so many people visit the page, but I have not had the time to reformat it in any way.

This post will be very picture heavy! I've tried to take photos of every stage. To see any of them bigger just click on the picture. A couple of the photos are a little blurry and I'll try to take replacement ones later. I hope this will all make sense to everyone but if you have any questions please do ask. The shawl pin is really quick and easy to make and anyone with basic skills should be able to do it. I've used a jewellery jig to make my shawl pin but if you don't have one a block of wood with thin clean nails knocked in should work fine too.

First off you will need some wire - I've used copper wire 1.6mm thick. Any metal will probably work for this although you'll want it thick enough to be sturdy and soft enough to bend easily. A jewellery jig (or block of wood and nails), wire cutters, round nose pliers, a sheet of paper, and some waste yarn. Later you'll also need a hammer, a board and some clear nail varnish.

The first step is to set out the pins in your jig in the positions you want them. Then loosely wrap the waste yarn around the pins (or nails) making a loop at each end and cut the yarn to that size. Use the yarn to measure the wire and cut it. I would suggest cutting the wire slightly longer than the yarn - having too much wire is much better than too little after all.

Now use your round nose pliers to make a loop in each end. The loops should go in opposite directions - one to the left and the other to the right. Try to keep the loops 180 degrees apart so that the wire lies flat. If it isn't completely flat try holding one loop flat on a desk and twisting the other loop down on the other side.

This step is only needed if your using a jewellery jig like mine with a lot of spaces to put pins in. Place a piece of paper over the jig and push gently so that the pins stick though it. Pull out all of the pins apart from the top two. Removing the spare pins will make bending the wire easier and the paper lets you see where you should be putting the pins back in. If you're using a block of wood you'll only have the holes you need for this project so the paper isn't necessary.

Now we're ready to start bending the wire. Place the first loop over the top most pin (or nail) and bend the wire gently around the second pin. There's no need to pull the wire tight against the pin, nice big loops will work perfectly. After the bend put a new pin in the highest hole then bend the wire around that. Keep repeating this process zig-zagging down to the bottom.

My piece of wire was a little bit long so I just twisted the end up like a spring until it was the right length to fit over the last pin nicely. Then you just need to trim the end to make a single loop. The pin should have a slight curve to it, so that you can easily pass the pin through the two loops. Bend the pin gently until you're happy with it's shape.

Straighten out some more of your wire and thread it through the two loops of the shawl pin. This will make the pin part. Cut the wire to a length that you're happy with. Remember to leave enough wire to bend into another loop like an eyepin. Make sure the loop on the pin won't fit through the other loops.

Now you should have a nicely shaped shawl pin but the wire will be very flexible and will likely get bent out of shape. We can harden the wire by beating it gently with a hammer. I put one of my foam blocking mats on the floor then put an old craft board on top. The blocking mat will absorb most of the noise (which made my husband much happier!) and the craft board gave me a firm but gentle non-scratchy surface for the pin.

Beating the wire will create little dents in the wire so make sure you only hammer the back of both pieces of your pin. Be gentle with the hammer as with a soft metal like copper a little goes a long way. Too much beating will make the metal brittle so don't hammer it too much. Just going along the length of the pin once should be enough to make it nice and firm without making it brittle. You should immediately be able to feel the difference in how firm it is.

The final step is to coat the pin in clear nail varnish. It will help to stop tarnishing and also protect from scratches. The best way to do it is to paint one side then leave it to one side until you're sure it is completely dry. Once both sides have been painted and are thoroughly dry it's ready to use!

Try adding beads or bending the wire in different shapes and make yourself a whole range of shawl pins!