People who cut fabric frequently are often possessive or even territorial with their scissors. For a non-sewing person this may be a bit shocking. What’s going on here?
Scissors, shears and other cutting instruments are not all the same. Many people are unaware of the differences and they will tend to think that a scissors is a scissors and that you can cut almost anything with any pair of scissors. This isn’t true. The majority of scissors sold in office supply stores or on department store racks are minimally ‘scissors’. They are designed to cut paper for a short period of time before they are too dull to use without the risk of hacking at the paper. Paper is wood. Paper dulls scissors quickly. You should never use paper cutting scissors if you are trying to cut fabric, it will make you swear in a most unbecoming way.
When you are ready to buy the correct scissors for your sewing you will know they are ‘real’ scissors by the price. Good scissors are expensive. This is because they are made of better metal and they are designed to last a lifetime. A good scissor is made to be sharpened regularly. This is a foreign idea to many people who are used to disposable cheap scissors. Good scissors have an edge very similar to a knife. In a city like San Francisco you can find many businesses who specialize in sharpening like: Bernal Cutlery, Town Cutler and Cliff’s Variety. In your area look for stores that sell knives such as cutlers and hardware stores. In very small towns there is usually one person who sharpens blades on the side.
Good scissors and shears have a bolt and nut for a pivot. This allows the two halves to be separated for sharpening. Many good scissors also have a sharp end. This looks daunting to many people because it is like a sharp knife. The pointed end is often necessary when you use scissors because the end is designed to cut all the way to the tip. On cheap scissors the blades will frequently not align well and the blades will only cut in one area of the blade.
For sewing purposes you will eventually need a shear with long blades to cut fabric more easily. These will be heavy but they are designed to put less stress on your wrist. You will also need a medium weight scissors for regular cutting and a small scissors for fine work. I also use embroidery scissors for very fine work. When you buy good scissors be sure that they fit your hand size correctly. A good shop that knows and understands scissors can help you select the right ones for you. You will also find pinking shears to be very useful. A pinking shear has triangular and zig-zag looking blades. This cut is used to arrest seam fraying. If you cut leather frequently then you should also purchase leather shears. You should not cut fabric with your leather shears or vise versa.
Be adamant in preventing your family from using your fabric scissors. Buy paper scissors and place them in several easy-to-find locations for your children and other family members to use. It is fine to buy a few inexpensive scissors but I’ve discovered that if you teach a child about real scissors, they will learn to handle them properly and to value them. A good paper scissor will also be designed to be sharpened. If your scissors look similar consider painting your handles on your paper scissors by taping them off and using a colorful spray paint. This will prevent family members from using the wrong scissors too.
Tips: Start your children off properly by training them to use sharp scissors from the beginning. Teach them to store scissors flat in a lined utensil drawer. Buy shears to cut wire, metal, plastic and other materials and label them. Most of all, have all of your scissors sharpened regularly so that they work beautifully!
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