What is a Sewing Bodkin? Types & How to Use It

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Have you ever wondered what is a sewing bodkin? According to ancient Gaelic, the word bodkin described a dagger. This useful little sewing implement sometimes looks like a dagger because of its shape, but it has multiple uses and is not a weapon of destruction.

What is a Sewing BodkinPinWhat is a Sewing Bodkin


What is a Sewing Bodkin?Types of Sewing BodkinThe Flexible Sewing BodkinPinch BodkinsA Ball-point BodkinThe Plastic BodkinThe DIY Version of a Sewing BodkinThe Multiple Threader BodkinOther Fabric and Sewing Uses of a BodkinWhat is a Sewing Bodkin – In Conclusion

What is a Sewing Bodkin?

There are different styles of sewing bodkin and they have different uses. If you have not heard of a bodkin, it is a gadget that will replace the safety pin you have been using to thread elastic or ribbon through a casing. The purpose of this activity is to pull the ribbon or elastic and gather a neckline or waistline and other areas needing to be drawn up in a decorative as well as purposeful manner. 

There are a variety of bodkins and all are useful for threading elastic in a casing as well as a threading tool for ribbons, cord, yarn, and making fabric tubes. The shape and design of a sewing bodkin mean it can slide through narrow spaces and pull whatever is being used as a drawstring to pass through the casing smoothly.

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Types of Sewing Bodkin

The following bodkins are the most well-known and useful.

The Flexible Sewing Bodkin

This little bodkin can bend and is flexible as its name suggests.   It is useful for threading a casing or drawstring and makes threading through a waistband casing easier.  The flexible nature of this bodkin enables it to pull through small curves and more difficult areas like the end of a sleeve.

 What is a Sewing Bodkin - Flexible What is a Sewing Bodkin - FlexiblePin What is a Sewing Bodkin – Flexible

Pinch Bodkins

These bodkins have teeth and can grip a piece of elastic or a trim you are trying to thread through. They act rather like a pair of tweezers. The ring that slides up and down the bodkin helps to tighten and grip any elastic or ribbon you are threading through.

Firstly grip the piece of elastic with the teeth and then slide the ring down the bodkin to tighten the grip of the teeth, Then thread the bodkin through the casing. The ring prevents the tweezer action from coming undone halfway around the casing.

 What is a Sewing Bodkin - Pinch What is a Sewing Bodkin - PinchPin What is a Sewing Bodkin – Pinch

A Ball-point Bodkin

This style of bodkin is especially useful for threading a thicker thread or ribbon through a straight casing. The beauty of the ballpoint end is it will not pierce the fabric and it goes around and through the casing smoothly. 

 What is a Sewing Bodkin - Ball Point What is a Sewing Bodkin - Ball PointPin What is a Sewing Bodkin – Ball Point

The Plastic Bodkin

This is a long and flexible bodkin. It has a variety of slots to use for threading different elastics or cords to pull through a casing. It is also flexible because it is made of plastic and can turn corners easily.

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The DIY Version of a Sewing Bodkin

A sewing bodkin is a nice to have accessory to your sewing kit, but if you do not have one, you can use a safety pin to do the same job. Use the largest size safety pin that will fit through the casing and ensure that it is securely fastened. The biggest danger that I find when using a safety pin is that sometimes the end comes undone halfway through pushing it through the casing. If that happens, your only option is to pull it back and start again.

 What is a Sewing Bodkin - Alternatives What is a Sewing Bodkin - AlternativesPin What is a Sewing Bodkin – Alternatives

The Multiple Threader Bodkin

The modern-day version of a sewing bodkin has many different features. A blunt or ballpoint tip to stop the bodkin from stabbing through the fabric and several different holes to allow for different ribbons or elastic to be threaded into the bodkin and then into the casing of the garment you are making.

Other Fabric and Sewing Uses of a Bodkin

A sewing bodkin can also be used to make holes for eyelets in tough fabric like leather or for pushing out the corners or tips of a collar.

If you have had the misfortune to find your elastic has slipped back inside the casing the tweezer grip of the pinch bodkin can save the day. The pinch bodkin will grip the slipped elastic and pull it out from the casing. This makes the re-threading of elastic or cord so much easier. 

Another advantage of a bodkin is it can pull your elastic or ribbon through smaller holes and into narrow casings. The elastic pulled by a bodkin does not twist and curl on itself because the bodkin keeps the elastic firmly in place. This is especially true of the pinch type of bodkin.

Bodkins with a big eye and a tapering shaft with a pointed end are very useful for threading or lacing. This was probably one of its original uses. The bodkin used for lacing corsets may have been the same bodkin seen in a lady`s hair at that time. It had multiply uses both then and now. Bodkins were widely used for threading drawstrings long before elastic took its place.

What is a Sewing Bodkin – In Conclusion

Sewing bodkins have been used across the centuries as a useful little tool every sewer should have amongst their kit. Although elastic has taken the place of ribbons and lacing in modern times, the bodkin is still here to be the little tool that takes pride in drawing your elastic through any casing. Thick or thin, the bodkin will always fit in!

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