My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Scissors March 31, 2012

Filed under: Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 11:47 pm
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You’re standing in the middle of your local fabric and or craft store.  You’re in the “notions” isle, which actually means nothing to you other than it says that on the big sign over head.




We covered most of them last time, so you should have a heads up on the basics.  But when you’re standing in the isle – there a million (and that may not be too far off?)  Which ones do you choose?  What will work best for my projects?  Can I use quilting pins if I’m not a quilter?  Why would anyone need pinking shears?  Why are there so many machine needles if there is “universal” needles?

Ah yes – I so get this!  At times I sit there and wonder some of the same things.  But mostly, “Why would you buy that nasty pink set?”

I’m only going to cover a few notions so you can soak it all in.  Mostly what you have already seen in the basic kit from last time.



Today we’ll talk Scissors –

You probably remember your mom even if she didn’t sew, yelling at you to not touch “the orange handled scissors!”  It’s ingrained into the minds of millions of kids everywhere who thought they could get away with cutting paper…. or hair, with mom’s “orange handled” scissors.  *GASP*  I swear this isn’t my bias for orange – it’s actually one of their ads for the company. 


Your basic "orange handled" scissors


As I see it you’ll need, should you continue to sew extensively, 3 pairs of basic scissors.  Your regular fabric cutting scissors, pinking shears and a small pair of thread cutting scissors.  Are all three absolutely necessary – no, of course not, but they do have a purpose and do make things easier. 

Your basic scissors can come in many styles, shapes, colors and materials.  Your kit will come with the cheapest pair of scissors possible.  They’ll do the job to get you started, butvery soon you’ll see why they’ll need to be changed out.  

"Fancy" Gingher scissors

The company that makes the “orange handled” scissors – Fiskars also makes Gingher .  Gingher I would say, is the “fancier” (read: more expensive) version.  But really it comes down to what feels good in your hand.  You may be cutting out yards and yards of fabric with these, so you want to make sure they feel right!  Some even have cushioned handles and spring loaded cutting now. 

This site can give you the low down on the different styles that you’ll want to check out in standard scissors for fabric.  There are other companies that make scissors (when I checked I think I saw about 50 or so), but these are great scissors that you’ll find in most stores (in the U.S. at least).  Don’t be afraid to try out other companies though!

Mainly you’ll want a pair that are slanted so you’re hand isn’t bent funny when you’re cutting and it keeps the fabric from raising too far off the cutting surface, keeping it from shifting around.  There are different sizes that you’ll need to feel out according to your hand size.  You’ll also want to make sure it’s not too heavy.  While the nice, smooth metal scissors feel good when you’re trying them out, I have a hard time with the weight after a while.  I know many folks who prefer the weight when cutting however, so you’ll definitely want to try them out (as best you can) before you spend too much on them!


Your basic "seamstress" scissors (9")


Pinking shears are scissors with little ridges on the cutting blades.  This is good to have when you’re cutting fabrics that fray (pull apart at the edges) easily, since they cut down on the amount of fraying.  These are also nice to make inside seams look nicer if they’re not finished otherwise.  You can also make nice designs for ribbons and other fabrics used as decoration on your sewn items.  Make sure they work smoothly or your hands will be killing you by the time you finish a project.






Thread cutting scissors or detail scissors are excellent to have around next to your sewing machine to cut the thread when you’re done sewing (if your machine doesn’t do this for you) or when you’re hand sewing so you don’t have to carry around your larger pair and for more detailed cutting when your larger scissors would get in the way or cut too much.  (I actually have 4 of these…. sad I know.  One “fancy” pair for my serger and three regular ones because I’m always misplacing them?)


These come in fun "fashion" colors now also


*If you decide you’re more of a quilter, you’ll want to look into rotary cutters, they’ll are a must for quilters today.  I have a pair just for making blankets or strips, but I don’t do that very often.  They can get pretty fancy with different blades that make designs and what not.  Take a peek at them, they may give you ideas!

Just to be sure, make sure you have another pair of regular household scissors in various places throughout the house to keep your kiddo’s (or spouse’s) hands off the good scissors.  A few cuts of paper (or hair) and you may notice your scissors “chewing” your fabric, instead of cutting it.  Why is this such an issue?  Other than it looking horrible, it can also pull threads from the middle of the fabric giving your fabric a ripple.  You also won’t cut evenly and it’s very hard on your hands trying to cut this way! 

Fabric stores will frequently have sharpening companies come in and for a fee they’ll sharpen whatever you bring them (knitting needles not included).  If you’ve paid a good amount, you’ll want to take advantage of this.  I suggest not using the home sharpeners though, in my experience they don’t work and make matters worse.  If you’ve bought standard scissors (say under $20) just replace them when you notice them not cutting as well.  If you mark the handle, you can even send these out for household use, just make sure to mark them as household first!  My first pair of mid-priced scissors lasted about 10 years before I needed to replace them.

A good rule of thumb if you’re still confused: Mid-price and mid-weight.

I think that just about covers the basics of scissors.  Hopefully that will take out some of the mystery when you’re standing in front of the wall covered with various blades.