Scissors For the Beginner in Sewing and Quilting
By Bev Crone
In the rush to buy your machine, fabrics, threads, needles and various tools, the last item to land in the cart is usually the scissors. The ones you grab just before you head to the checkout line. The cheap scissors, right?
Once you begin your project, however, it doesn’t take long to grow frustrated with the “cheap” scissors. They quickly start tearing the fabric instead of cutting clean straight lines. They push your fabric forward too much so it bunches as you are trying to cut it. They wear out your hands because they take extra muscle power just to make your cuts.
So how do you determine what is a good quality fabric scissors that will last a long time? Glad you asked. Here are 5 Important Tips to help you answer that question:
1) Comfort? Comfort is important. You should be able to handle the scissors in the store to get a sense of how you like the feel in your hand. With today’s packaging, that isn’t always easy but it is important. If you can’t get the scissors out of the box to test, ask if there is a sample you can try. If the scissors doesn’t feel good in your hands or if it feels too heavy, then you should try another set. Good quality scissors should feel firm in their action, but still silky smooth.
2) Carbon or stainless steel? You have two basic choices. Which is best? The better question is which is best for you? Classic professional shears are usually big pieces of carbon steel. Carbon steel can be exquisitely sharpened and tempered to a high level of hardness so they will retain their sharp edge for a “lifetime” of regular use. However, these are usually very heavy and expensive. Stainless steel manufacturing has advanced very far in the past 30 years. Stainless steel alloys are made with high carbon content and then tempered in such a way that they too can be given an “exquisitely” sharp edge at a very good level of hardness. Most stainless steel scissors are lighter in weight and economical in price because only the blades are metal and the bows or finger grips are plastic. As with comfort, weight is a critical factor in how well you’ll like your scissors. Another reason it is important to handle the scissors to get a sense of how you like the feel in your hand.
3) Small or large? Buy the right tool for the task at hand. For fine detail work, you will have success with a smaller, fine pointed scissors better known as “embroidery scissors.” Many are available with larger finger loops and comfort grip handles. If you like decorative designs in your scissors, (think storks here) there are plenty of styles to choose from. You usually get what you pay for in this style, so be careful to buy quality. For cutting fabric and patchwork, you’ll be happier with something in the 7” range with fine serrations on one side of the scissors. The serrations will grip your fabric to reduce or prevent the forward push. Cutting slippery fabric like silk? Use a serrated scissors. To cut multiple layers or thick fabrics, choose an 8” or longer scissors. Again consider using a serrated style for best success.
4) Where to buy? Visit your local fabric or quilting store to buy your sewing scissors, not a drugstore or office supply place. Acquaint yourself with the people who work there. They will be happy to help and answer any question you have. After all, they do a great deal of sewing themselves and in any case spend a lot of time cutting fabric. They will become a great resource for all your sewing needs.
5) Brands? Good brands will stand behind their quality. Choose scissors from a brand you can talk to and trust. At Havel’s, we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee so if you aren’t happy with a pair of Havel’s scissors, we want you to call us. We’ll do our best to make it right for you with an exchange or refund.
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