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Scissors

When I first started sewing I had one pair of scissors that I used for everything, from clipping threads to cutting out patterns, from ripping out seams to trimming my bangs. My poor scissors! It took me a while to realize that there were better and more specific tools for all of these jobs. Some sewing jobs don't require scissors at all, such as seam ripping, and I now do most of my cutting for quilts with a rotary cutter, but this still leaves a lot of scissor work to be done! Here is what I've learned about the wonderful world of scissors.

Pinking Shears

Pinking shears are scissors with saw toothed blades that create a zig zagged edge when you cut with them. This edge is both pretty and functional. Cutting a woven fabric with pinking shears prevents the fabric from fraying beyond this zig zag edge. Because of this a "pinked" edge can be a quick way to finish a seam on a woven fabric. They can also be useful when dealing with knits in reducing the bulk of your seams. Additionally they can add a pretty decorative edge to fabrics that don't fray, like felt.

The pinking shears we carry are sharp and substantial. I love how easily they cut though fabric. They will last for a long time if you use them only to cut fabric (no paper!) and don't cut though too many layers at at time. The trick I've found to getting a straight edge is to go slowly and cut one layer at a time. When you're done with one cut pick up the scissors and carefully place them in the grooves of that previous cut and then cut again.

Gingher 8-inch Knife Edge Dressmaker's Shears

Dressmaker's shears have a long blade which makes them ideal for cutting out clothing patterns. The term "knife edge" refers to the angle of the blades. Instead of the upper and lower blades being sharpened at a 90 degree angle to one another, the top blade is at a more acute angle. This allows them to cut through the fabric easier than regular scissors. Their slightly bent angle allows for a more comfortable hand position.

These particular Gingher Dressmaker's Shears are some of the most wonderful scissors out there. They are very well made (in Greensboro North Carolina) and cut beautifully. They can last a lifetime if you get them sharpened occasionally, use them only to cut fabric, and don't drop them (they are heavy so they can get out of alignment in a fall). If you live in the New York City area you can get them sharpened at Henry Westpfal and Co, 115 West 25th St New York, NY 10001 212-563-5990

 

Mundial Dressmaker's Scissors

Other Dressmaker's Scissors are inexpensive and work well. They are also "knife edge" and they have a comfortable bent angle. I like these scissors a lot because they cut well and I don't feel that I have to be as precious with them as with my beloved Gingher's. I have a couple pairs of these, one with my sewing machine that I use for fabric and one on my desk that I use to cut out patterns, template plastic and whatever else comes my way. These are a great basic pair of scissors to get if you're new to sewing.

Gingher 5-inch Tailor Knife Edge Scissors

Gingher Knife Edge Tailor Scissors are great for hand sewing. They are portable and work well for cutting out pieces for hand piecing. They are smaller but no less well made or sharp than the Gingher Dressmaker's Shears. Like the dressmaker's shears they also have a "knife edge" so they cut like a dream. They come in handy for applique projects and are small enough to use as embroidery scissors in a pinch. These scissors are made to work for both right and left handed people.

Clover Kuroha Thread Clipper

Ah the Kuroha Thread Clipper... I love this little tool! Maybe it doesn't really count as "scissors" but I had to mention it anyway. The Clipper's primary use is to snip away the annoying little pieces of thread that poke out after a big machine project. After I'm done with any quilt, bag or garment I always get my clipper out and cut off the offending little ends. I used to try to do this with regular scissors but I could never cut close enough to the fabric so it was a revelation when I finally worked with these. I've tried other brands of thread clippers and I've found this one to be the sharpest.

Stork Embroidery Scissors

I love the beautiful shape of these elegant Stork Embroidery Scissors but more importantly they are very sharp and have a precise point. If you embroider you know how important a good pair of embroidery scissors is. A regular pair of scissors can't get close enough to the fabric to leave you with a neat, non-bulky back of your embroidery. One of embroidery's mantras is that the back should look as neat as the front and these scissors can help you get closer to that seemingly impossible goal. The fine tips also allow you to remove stitches from the front when you need to. I use these exclusively for cutting embroidery thread so they are always sharp and I keep them with my (comically vast) thread stash so they are always at the ready!

Find our full range of scissors here.

Happy Cutting! --Molly

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28 Responses to Scissors


  1. pinkbathtub says:

    I love scissors and this post! I certainly don’t mean to self-promote, but I just had to share my gocco print of scissors: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=21739659

  2. Liesl says:

    Wonderful post. I’m realizing the importance of a good pair of scissors. My used-for-everything scissors are on their way out and this is great research.
    Beautiful site and blog, by the way. :)

  3. Christi says:

    Two questions/ comments: Thanks so much for the info re: repairs. I almost start crying every time I think about what I did to my Gingher embroider scissors (cut aluminum foil with them after reading on Instructables that’s a good way to sharpen scissors). I thought they were ruined for life. My scissors have red flowered handles and I saw what looked like the exact same pair under a different manufacturer name at Hobby Lobby – something name brand, but not Gingher. Are these made by them, still? Tanks again for a great post – so important and useful and relevant.

  4. Jacqui says:

    This is such an informative article. I love those Stork scissors best, putting those on my wish list. My Mundial pinking shears are still going strong after twenty years (no paper!)

    I have a tiny pair of red craft scissors by Clover. I recommend keeping one pair with the sewing machine and one pair in your sewing box. I’m still looking for another pair.

    II got a great tip from Bend the Rules sewing, clip threads as you go. I placed a wastebasket under my sewing table so I just clip and sweep the threads straight into it.

  5. Precious post! My Mom bought a sewing machine for me recently, and I’m still doodling with it. Still I’m familiar with the sewing process since my aunt was a dressmaker and I’m familiar with most of the scissors too, but so far I’ve done well with the "5-inch Tailor Knife Edge Scissors" you pictured above. If I get on with sewing I’ll have to buy a couple more, and I’ll refer to this post for sure!

  6. Silvia says:

    Thank you for all this information!! I have begun with patchwork some months ago and, at the moment, I have just one pair of scissors!!

  7. andrea says:

    My grandmother had a pair of stork scissors, and when she died (long before I knew fabric and fiber was destined to be my hobby and obsession), I asked to have the "birdie scissors" I had remembered her using as she sewed. I have them now, and I use them, and never without thinking of her. Thanks for the info and the walk down memory lane!

  8. Mandie says:

    A really useful post, scissors tend to get overlooked but a good pair can make a lot of difference.

  9. Deanne says:

    I’ve seen a pair of the thread clippers setting around at someone’s house before and wondered what their purpose was. Now I know and am thinking they would be a handly little tool.

    My husband bought me my Gingher Dressmaker Shears a few years back as a gift and I love them so much. My girls know those are mommy’s special scissors and feel like it’s a treat when they are allowed to cut fabric with them. I’ve been hinting around about how I would really like a pretty pair of quality embroidery scissors…perhaps this link should show up in his Inbox :)

  10. Steph W says:

    What a great primer! Thank you!

  11. Brigit says:

    Thanks for this informative article. I have a pair of Gingher Dressmaking Shears and I have a problem with the screw that holds the two halves of the scissors together coming loose as I work. Unless the screw is just tight enough they are difficult to use. They work beautifully when the screw is just right, but it can be frustrating to constantly adjust. I am wondering if you have ever had this problem and if so is there a solution? Thanks!

  12. evieandme says:

    The gingher scissors are fab – I was bought a dressmaker pair for Christmas and I was so excited about them. Sadly, I dropped them down the stairs when carrying some fabric down to cut out in front of the TV and they were ruined – completely out of alignment. So your comment about not dropping them is SO important. Plus I should have stayed in my sewing room! I was really upset and haven’t been able to justify new ones yet I love the idea of the thread clippers – I shall add them to my ‘hoping to own’ list:-) Scissor really are the essential tool of the sewer and should be cared for. I have learnt my lesson!

  13. Kristina says:

    GREAT post. My family doesn’t quite understand which scissors are MOM’S ONLY!!! We’re working on it…

  14. Cheryl says:

    Great information on scissors! I have the Gingher dressmaker shears and they have been my favorite scissors by far. Another pair I’ve recently purchased are the Gingher applique scissors. I don’t know how I’ve survived so long without them!
    Thanks again for a great post!

  15. Lisa says:

    What an informative post. I’ve been sewing (mostly hand sewing) for a few years now and had no idea what half of those scissors were used for! Thanks for this, now I know….off to buy scissors!

  16. Cerise says:

    This is a great informative article! I definitely need to get some good scissors and pinking shears. Thanks for the descriptions and pictures : )

  17. Tara says:

    The perfect follow up to this article would be a post about identifying when your scissors need to be sharpened and then some good sources of reputable places that provide this service.

  18. Maegan says:

    Another perk about Gingers is that you can send them to the company in NC for sharpening and refurbishing– they do a great job for $7.50 a pair, and have fixed countless notches and weird issues with my multiple pairs for years.
    http://www.gingher.com/pages/repair-and-maintenance/4/

  19. penelope says:

    Thanks for this great post! I dropped my Gingher shears, & sent them back to Gingher for repair. See http://gingher.com/pages/sharpening-and-repair-service/4/ for details.

  20. Toni says:

    That’s so funny…those thread clipper scissors…never knew that’s what they were for! My ex-husband gave them to me. He was a photographer and used them for all *sorts* of things, I guess, but never to cut thread. Since inheriting them, I’ve used them for things I dare not mention :-D But they’ve always stayed sharp. I’ve been looking to get another pair, because they are so handy. I just didn’t want to spend a lot on them, because when my ex-hubby bought them, he only paid $3.00 about 10 years ago at either Sam Flax or A.I. Friedman….i hate inflation :)

  21. anaximander says:

    Don’t forget about applique scissors!

  22. chris says:

    I have a pair of Mundial pinking shears and I am less than pleased with them. They did not stay sharp and tend to shred the fabric.

    Ginghers are absolute gems. I have the dressmaker shears, serrated edged dressmaker’s (reduces slipping on slinky fabrics), and thread snips. I can’t recommend the dressmaking shears enough. I’m lukewarm on their snips. They’re just as sharp as the shears, but if you drop them, you damage the blades pretty badly (and boy do I drop snips a lot!). I love a good pair of thread snips, but Gingher just doesn’t make the ones I like.

    Ginghers are not meant to be sharpened by those "scissor sharpening" butcher shops. One of the blades can be sharpened with a whetstone if you know what you’re doing. If, for whatever reason, they’ve become dull or need the edge restored, you can send them back to Gingher for about $7 (includes return shipping) to have them factory restored. I’ve done this before for my snips.

    I use applique scissors fairly regularly and highly recommend them. They’re ideal for trimming back seam allowances, such as for flat-felled seams, or (as the name implies) for applique work. Their shape allows you to easily get close to the fabric, and the lower blade helps prevent you from cutting fabric you don’t want cut.

    I have Gingher’s goldtone stork embroidery scissors, and those work beautifully like all of their other scissors. I rarely use them since I don’t do embroidery much.

  23. Melissa says:

    I’ve been sewing since I was a child (now mid/late-20s) and have always used regular scissors for everything (including paper). I kept reading that proper scissors make all the difference but I never knew what to get. I’m going to have to grab a ton of these… we’ll see if it brings my sewing to a whole new level! Thanks so much!

  24. Shriya says:

    Hi,

    First time on your blog and what a wonderful blog you have here. Im quite a novice crafter and started dabbling in making tiny things in felt for my little niece. I was wondering if you could tell me what is the best scissors to use to cut little shapes of felt for aplique etc.
    Thanks in advance.

  25. tuttle88 says:

    I remember when I was a kid and my mother had The Good Scissors which I would always get in trouble for using for non approved purposes.

  26. propecia says:

    Hello! nice blog!

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  28. Thank you for sharing! This cleared up a few questions of mine

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