The Cutting Edge
by Sarah J. Doyle
When a scissors' blades slide by each other, the resulting cut
can be the intended one or a disaster, the outcome largely
predetermined by the scissors' design, construction, strength
and suitability for the task being performed.
Technically, scissors are generally 3 to 6 inches long and have
equal size ring handles; shears, 6 inches or longer, have a ring
handle for the thumb and larger handle for two or three fingers.
Scissors should perform almost as an extension of fingers and
seamstresses should have a selection of excellent and appropriate
scissors. To be avoided are such frustrations as forcing the
blades to cut, using blunt ends where only sharp points will
reach, cutting in the air instead of on the table, and cramping
the fingers by using uncomfortable handles or too heavy shears.
For fabric cutting, scissors should cut easily through the paper
patterns, as well as layers of material. Bent handles will keep
the entire operation on the table, while straight handles will
force a lifting of the scissors, pattern and fabric, resulting
in sagging of the fabric and possibly an inaccurate cut.
Cutting should be done in long even strokes, blades never
When at the sewing machine, use thread clipper scissors, sewing
scissors (for snipping, ripping, cutting light material, slashing
seams, and other close work), and shears for cutting heavy seams.
Buttonhole scissors make perfect buttonhole slits and are
uniform in size.
Pinking and scalloping shears give ravel resistant seam finishes
and, in addition, pay for themselves by cutting decorative trims
of non-woven materials, such as suede, felt and plastic.
Good quality scissors and shears can be sharpened and adjusted,
will not rust, and will outperform ones of poor quality and
Only a minimum of care is needed. They should be kept clean by
cleaning off the lint after each use. The screw should be
lubricated with sewing machine oil occasionally. Avoid cutting
over pins, and protect the points during use and when they are
stored. Use the scissors and shears only in ways and on
materials for which they were intended, and they will last for
a good number of years.
About the author:
Sarah J. Doyle is author of over 25 sewing, craft and how-to
books, as well as author of online pattern making, sewing and
craft classes. Visit http://SewWithSarah.com
on books, classes, newsletters and the latest hints and tips,
for pattern making and pattern
alteration classes, and http://SarahJDoyle.com
for my sewing