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What are Counting Pin and How To Make Counting Pins

I have been stitching for over fifteen years, but if you asked me two years ago what a counting pin is, I would have had no idea. The dangerous part about learning about all the cross stitch accessories and gadgets is that it is easy to end up wanting them all! Whether is a good or bad thing, I have been learning about all the cross stitch gadgets over the last couple years.


What is a Counting Pin?

A counting pin is a pin or needle with a decorative piece on one end so that it will not fully slide through fabric. A counting pin is commonly used to help a cross stitcher count the number of squares or threads in their cross stitch fabric for their next stitch because counting pins can easily be placed in fabric without worrying about them falling through the fabric like a needle. Counting pins can also be used for decoration, such as embellishing a pin cushion or a finished cross stitch piece.

Pictured below are two counting pins being used to help count for a cross stitch piece. In this example, one counting pin is the distance of ten stitches away from the stitching, and the second counting pin is the distance of ten stitches away from the first counting pin. So, that makes it easy to see where a spot twenty stitches away from the stitching is.

 Using counting pins for cross stitch

The decorative portion of a counting pin is commonly made from clay or beads that are securely mounted or glued onto a rust resistant pin or needle.

Each counting pin usually cost between $3 and $4, which may seem like a lot for one decorative pin, but since most counting pins are handmade, a decent amount of labor can go into making each pin.

There is a great video on Youtube showing the process of making clay buttons and counting pins by one of the workers at Just Another Button Company -> click here to watch that video. Many Just Another Button Company pins are offered in a variety of shops, including in this Cross Stitching Supplies shop.

- For those of you who can't or didn't watch the video (mentioned in the last paragraph) of clay buttons/pins getting made, the video shows the buttons/pins getting formed by first making a large version of the design with the clay and then stretching the clay to make the design smaller. Once the clay is stretched to the desired size for buttons or pins, the clay is cut with a tissue blade into pieces of the desired thickness.


 One Way You Can Make Your Own Counting Pins

 It is possible to make your own counting pins. I will be describing how I made some counting pins with polymer clay canes that I bought from people on because I don't currently have the skills to make detailed designs with clay.


Tools I Used to Make Counting Pins

  • Uncured (unbaked) polymer clay canes from a clay artist on Etsy (clay must be uncured/unbaked in order to cut it and stick it on pins). Recommended width of clay designs is 1/2" or more.
  • Rustproof pins (if the pin of a counting pin rusts, the whole piece becomes unusable/garbage, so make sure you get pins that will allow your counting pin to last)
  • Craft knife (a tissue blade is actually recommended, but I didn't have access to one at the time that I made these)
  • Wire cutter (mine is included in a pair of pliers
  • piece of cardboard (to bake pieces of clay on)
  • oven (not pictured)

Supplies used to make cross stitch counting pins

Making Counting Pins with Pre-made Polymer Clay Canes

If you purchase a polymer clay cane that is a little wider than you want your pins, you can make it smaller by stretching or rolling it. Just be careful not to distort the design.

I had one polymer clay cane that I resized from about 3/4" wide to 1/2" wide by rolling it smaller. Below are the pictures of before and after resizing the clay. By looking at the second photo, you can see that I did have a little distortion of the design I was working with, but it was still good enough to work with.

polymer clay can before resizing for pins

polymer clay after resizing for pins

Once the polymer clay canes are the size you like, cut them into pieces about 1/8" thick (pieces a little thicker will also work). I used a craft knife to cut the polymer clay while it was room temperature, but for best results, it is recommended to cut the clay with a tissue blade after it has been frozen.


Cutting polymer clay for counting pins

polymer clay cut for counting pins


To prep the pins for the counting pins, I cut off the tops/heads of the pins with a wire cutter. If the tops/heads are not cut off, the pins won't securely stay in the polymer clay because the tops of the pins will make too big of a hole in the clay.


pins to make counting pins

Tops of pins cut to make counting pins


Stick a pin in each piece of polymer clay, put all the pieces on a piece of cardboard (this makes sure each side of the clay bakes the same, otherwise one side may look shinier than the other side), and then bake the clay/pins in an oven. I baked my clay/pins for 45 minutes at 230 degrees Fahrenheit. The clay I purchased didn't say what brand it was, so I did some research online to see what clay artists recommend.


 completed counting pins


Once the counting pins are removed from the oven, I would recommend putting a little glue where the pin is inserted into the clay to help make sure the clay part of the counting pin does not come disconnected from the pin. I used Alene's tacky glue, but I'm sure many types of glue will work. I simply applied a little glue to the counting pin with a toothpick around the pin where it met the clay portion.


Thoughts on Making Counting Pins

Unless you have all the materials already to make the pins, such as a blade to cut the clay, some pins, and a wire cutter, the price of making a few pins can start to get pricey. But, if you already have the basic materials, it can be pretty cheap to make counting pins.

The problem with making counting pins is that you generally end up with multiples of the same design, so if you want variety and not just quantity, it becomes hard to achieve that without spending more than it would cost to purchase pins from a retailer of counting pins, such as Just Another Button Company.


Estimated Cost of Making Your Own Counting Pins

Pins - estimated at about 3 cents each

Clay - Pre-made clay polymer cane cost about $1 - $9, and each cane makes about eight tops for the counting pins. Cost is about $0.13 to $1.13 each

Without factoring in the cost of gas or electricity to heat up the oven to cure the clay, the estimated cost to make one counting pin is about $0.16 to $1.16, but you will have eight of the exact same design.

The price per counting pin may be reduced if you own clay (cost about $2.99 per color) and know how to make your own clay canes. Also, cost of making counting pins with beads may be cheaper than making clay counting pins too. There isn't much out there about making bead counting pins, but from what I did find, I believe you can make them by simply gluing the desired beads onto a pin.


I hope this post was helpful in learning more about counting pins. When I first learned about counting pins, understanding the process of how they are made me appreciate them a lot more. After making my own, I still want to buy all the counting pins possible, but at least I now know making them is a very possible option.


Do you think you will be making your own counting pins? Feel free to comment below.


Thank you to everyone who read this post. I really means a lot to me. :)


P.S. I want to thank you for making it to the end of this post. :) Use code ENDOFPOST10 at checkout to save 10% on your next order (maybe including some counting pins) with Cross Stitching Supplies. Head over to the online shop ->


September 22, 2021 at 15:12

The pins were just picked up at my local Joann Fabric.

September 22, 2021 at 15:10

This is interesting. Where did you get the pins?
Thank you for taking the time to do this…..ilona

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