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Choosing the Best Scissors Or Shears For Sewing

If you're going to do any sewing, you need some scissors. In fact, even if you aren't doing any sewing, every household needs some scissors! They're a useful tool, so it's important to have at least one pair.
Scissors vs. Shears First off, though people often use the name interchangeably, scissors and shears aren't really the same thing and are meant to perform different tasks. Shears are used for the heavier cutting jobs, whereas scissors are best used for lighter cutting jobs such as trimming or clipping threads.
Shear Strength A pair of shears generally measures about 6 inches or more in length. To hold the shears, there is a small ring handle for the thumb, and a larger one for inserting two or three fingers. Holding the shears by placing your fingers through these rings gives better leverage to perform the heavier tasks for which shears excel
Scissors Are Smaller Scissors range in length from 6 inches on down to 3 inches or even less. Besides being smaller than shears, the handle rings are of equal size
Choosing Quality Scissors and Shears Most scissors are made of steel. There are two main types of steel used for scissors. The first type, carbon steel, is used to make scissors with the blade and the handle formed in one continuous piece. This type of steel is very strong and stays sharp. Scissors made from carbon steel are usually plated with nickel or chromium to prevent them from rusting. The other type of steel scissors are those made from stainless steel. A plastic handle is usually fitted to the metal blade. These scissors aren't as sturdy and don't retain a sharp edge as long. They're also harder to re-sharpen. However, they are generally much cheaper.
Types of Scissors There are many types of scissors available. Here's a small sampling: * Applique Scissors: Offset for level cutting * Bent Handle Dressmaker Shears: Allow the cutting blades to rest flat on the table * Easy Grip Scissors: With larger handles for those having difficulty holding scissors * Embroidery Scissors: Used for cutting embroider threads * Finishing Shears: Either as pinking or scalloping shears, used to cut ravel-resistant seams * Heavy-duty Shears: For cutting leather, upholstery, drapery, etc. * Thread Snipping Scissors: For cutting loose threads off sewing There are also shears made for left-handed people, household scissors (all-purpose, poultry shears, etc.), paper scissors for children, scrapbooking scissors, electric scissors and more. For just about any task, there's some kind of scissors or shears that will do the job.
Caring for Scissors and Shears The first and foremost rule of scissors: Scissors should ONLY be used to cut the materials for which they were designed. Do not, I repeat, do NOT use shears meant for cutting material for household tasks like cutting paper. Using scissors for something other than the materials they were intended to cut will dull the blades. Scissors and shears should be kept dry and dust free, with an occasional oiling at the screw. Keeping them in a safe place like a sewing box, or with higher quality cutting instruments, the box they came in, will help protect the points. Also, scissors should be stored in a closed position. Setting down scissors in an open position is the most common cause of dull blades. High quality scissors and shears can be re-conditioned by the manufacturers or other companies providing that service.
Summing Up Scissors and Shears For scissors to be used round the house, cheaper scissors work fine. If they become dull or broken, it's cheap to replace them. For cutting fabric and other sewing tasks, a good set of shears is a wise investment. Take care of your scissors and shears, and they'll reward you with easy cutting for years to come.
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Comment by Patricia on December 20, 2011 at 9:04am

I just wish there was some place I could send an old pair of scissors that were my grandmothers and they are dull 

Comment by HELEN GARVIN on August 9, 2009 at 4:15pm
thanks for the infomation this was very timely am about to buy new shears
Comment by Phyllis on March 13, 2009 at 12:44pm
On Patty's mention of receiving Wiss shears from her MIL - If one is ever in the company of other sewists, keep track of your tools & make certain anything another uses is returned BEFORE ANYONE leaves the room.
The Wiss shears my mother received as a gift circa 1938, then gave to me, were loaned to a student in a class I was teaching 1966/'67. At class end, as I packed up, I realized they were missing. Called the "student" & asked to be sure they were brought to the upcomg class. When she next arrived, I approached her quietly & asked for the shears. She looked at me incredulously & said she didn't have them & had returned them. Wrong of course.
Starting that evening, I took out 3" x 5" cards I brought along to make notes. When any of my supplies were used, I had the person requesting make a note on a card. After the return, I signed off the card accordingly. The Wiss borrower stopped attending after this session.
Granted, the borrower might have left them out & another person could have "picked" them up. Whatever, I just left it was up to me to keep track of my equipment. Figured i'd alert others to the need.
Comment by Linda Alsbury on March 13, 2009 at 1:52am
My mother-in-law bought me a quality pair of Gingher left-handed sewing shears. Nobody touched my sewing shears! The kids learned early on. So did my husband. The kids are grown now and they still do not touch my sewing shears.
I have so many pairs of scissors. And rulers. And pencils. And erasers. And measuring tapes (sewing and hardware). Hmmmm. Why is that? I guess I like having them in the office, the sewing room and the kitchen. But, I digress.
Never let a "civilian" :) touch your sewing scissors/shears!
Comment by Patty on March 12, 2009 at 10:09pm
I caught my ex-husband cutting his toenails with a pair of my best scissors! He's gone now. No, I didn't kill him, but I came close! Just kidding. My mother-in-law just gave me a bunch of sewing stuff, and one of the items was an old pair of Wiss shears; after reading this article, I'm taking them to be sharpened. :)
Comment by Irene Pratchett on March 12, 2009 at 2:15pm
I'm 81 years old. and I learned something new today, gives a whole new meaning to that "old dog thing" thanks
Comment by bunbytes on March 12, 2009 at 1:47pm
My children knew that even touching my sewing scissors was cause for swift justice. Our problem was with the scissors I kept at our desk. If they were not there (put back after use) I would deduct two dollars from their allowance and buy another two pairs of cheap scissors for general use. They would each get one and I would replace the "lost" scissors with one and have one as a back up. That didn't happen very often and we knew where our family scissors were. My husby is so obsessive that he always put them back so there was no need to dock his allowance!
Comment by Wenona on March 12, 2009 at 1:06pm
yes, good info. thanks, too!
Comment by Phyllis on March 12, 2009 at 1:01pm
>> ... scissors to be used round the house, cheaper scissors work fine. ... Absolutely!!!!!
After marrying, my husband - later children - learned quickly using any of my sewing tools especially my scissors was grounds for strict disciplinary action. To husband it was vocal chagrin. To children it was standing in the corner.
Advice novice sewsits should strictly adhere to understanding.
Comment by Jane on March 12, 2009 at 12:46pm
Very good information. This answered many doubts I had with my scissors. Thanks!

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