Ask the Experts: Scissors
It’s time to “Ask the Experts” one of our burning sewing questions! We’ve asked about interfacing, batting, thread and starch. Today we got the scoop from Tasia Pona, Sarai Mitnick, Jen Carlton-Bailly, Katy Jones, Shannon Cook, Heather Jones and Rae Hokstra about their favorite scissors. Add your own answers in the comments! We’d also love your feedback about which questions you’d like us to ask in future posts.
What types of scissors do you use for sewing? Do you have favorite brands? Do you have favorite sizes or designs for different types of projects?
Tasia Pona: I use Ginghers that I actually bought from Sew,Mama,Sew! I upgraded last year and wish I’d upgraded sooner. They’re sharp and feel good in the hands. So far they’re the best pair of scissors I’ve used, although I haven’t used a wide variety of different brands. I use the same pair scissors for nearly everything, except that I did also buy a great pair of thread snippers. They’re Clover brand and are super sharp! Great for trimming threads as you go.
Tasia Pona from Sewaholic and Sewaholic Patterns joined us on the blog before with her Seven Essential Sewing Skills. Tasia hosts some fabulous sewalongs on her site and has developed Sewaholic into a great resource with sewing tips, guides and more.
Sarai Mitnick: I have several types that I use in the studio. My main ones are a pair of 8-inch Gingher knife edge dressmaker’s shears. But I also have some Fiskars pinking shears, a pair of thread nippers from Southstar Supply, smaller emboidery scissors, and several pairs of scissors that I use only for cutting paper (i.e. patterns). I also have rotary cutters in different sizes. The Ginghers are my mainstay though… I’ve had them many years!
Sarai Mitnick is the owner and designer of Colette Patterns and author of the fantastic The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress. You can find more from Sarai at the Coletterie, where there are always great sewing tips, smart discussion and sneak peeks at beautiful patterns to come. Sarai joined us last year with The Hows and Whys of Clips and Notches and All About Grainline ~ A Grainline Primer.
Jen Carlton-Bailly: I rarely use scissors! Wherever I can I use my rotary cutter. (I have three different sizes.) However, when I do use scissors I use Fiskars Razor Edge– Just the standard size you’d find in most craft/sewing stores. They have a nice chunky handle that feels good in my hand. I have two pairs, one for fabric and one for paper. The paper ones were my old fabric ones until my husband got hold of them and decided they’d be perfect to cut up a bunch of paper.
Jen Carlton Bailly is a self-taught sewist who learned from online tutorials. Before learning to sew she graduated from the Art Institute of Seattle in Fashion Marketing. With a love of textiles, fashion and art, a move to sewing/quilting was a natural progression and a quick addiction. Involvement in the Modern Quilt Guild as the first president of the Portland Chapter opened up a whole new culture to Jen. She finds inspiration in everything from a old dresser drawer to a run-down Portland building. You can read about her crafty endeavors and forthcoming patterns at www.bettycrockerass.com.
Katy Jones: I am a bit of a scissor freak! I cannot resist tiny ones that look cute for hand sewing and snipping threads, but my favourite brand for big jobs would be Gingher. My big shiny Gingher shears feel like “proper” scissors; they cut through fabric like butter and make a really satisfying sound as they cut. I keep them in a special pouch so they’re always safe and clean, and keep them super sharp because they’re so beautiful (I even had them tattooed on my arm I love them so much).
Katy Jones from the Fat Quarterly team and Monkey Do co-authored Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters: 60 Blocks + a Dozen Quilts and Projects, released in 2012. (More on the book here.) With a successful Fat Quarterly Community Retreat in London this past summer and her consistently gorgeous quilts, there’s always something new and fun to see and learn about at Monkey Do. Katy joined us early last year for some thoughts on the sewing industry and more; don’t miss the amazing quilts in the interview!
Shannon Cook: I like to use Fiskars brand for my sewing scissors and pinking shears. I think I have about six pairs in different sizes. I have scissors for everything! I love small foldable ones from knitpicks.com for my knitting notions and paper cutting scissors and even craft scissors with fun shapes from Martha Stewart’s line for a fun way to add some creativity to anything paper!
Shannon Cook has created a warm, happy gathering place at luvinthemommyhood, full of sewing and so much more. Shannon has been a board member here at Sew,Mama,Sew! and she’s a great source for crafty round-ups of the best sewing tutorials, “Wow!” projects, holiday fun, resources, etc. Find Shannon at luvinthemommyhood and versus. She’s also on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!
Heather Jones: I typically use different types of scissors for different types of projects. My all-time favorite pair is a spring-loaded, fine tip set from Fiskars. They have small blades that taper, and they are my go to scissors for thread snipping and any applique work that I do. While I don’t do much applique these days, my professional creative journey began with applique raw edge fabric designs onto kids’ tees, and that’s how I discovered how awesome these scissors are. The fine tips make it easy to cut small pieces of fabric very precisely. I also use them frequently as seam rippers and the tapered blades make it really easy to snip stitches to remove an area of sewing. Here’s a link to them.
My favorite pair of scissors for cutting larger pieces of fabric is another pair, also by Fiskars. It’s their Softouch scissors and they also have a spring, which makes cutting fabric really easy. I have an older pair, but they are similar to these.
For big cutting jobs, I use a rotary cutter and my favorite is Havel’s 60 mm rotary cutter. I really like how the blade retracts from the handle and locks in place. I’ve used other brands of rotary cutters before and have had the blade move to the closed position while cutting, and that’s never happened to me with the one by Havel’s. The 60 mm blade also cuts easily through many layers of fabric. Here’s a link to the rotary cutter.
Heather Jones of Olive and Ollie is the founder and former president of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. She has a line of modern quilting patterns which you can find in the Olive and Ollie shop. She will be a lecturer at The Modern Quilt Guild QuiltCon conference in 2013.
Rae Hokstra: I have Fiskars sewing shears and pinking shears. I’m left-handed so it seems to be a little harder to find the really nice scissors when I see them in shops, but Fiskars seems to work just fine. In fact, I’m still using the same two pairs of scissors that I’ve been sewing with since high school, so until you asked me this question it didn’t occur to me that maybe I should upgrade. I use the regular shears for cutting out fabric or trimming seam allowances that will be hidden (french seams or inside linings) and the pinking shears for trimming seam allowances that will be seen. I use a rotary cutter to cut out most pattern pieces, so I use scissors less than you might think. For clipping threads I just use a pair of kiddy craft scissors. It’s actually pretty embarrassing. On the plus side though, I had my small scissors taken away a few times at airport security, and kid scissors are always easy to replace!
Rae Hokstra from Made by Rae creates fabulous patterns for you to purchase and sew. She hosts the well-known “Spring Top Week” at Made by Rae, and co-hosts “Celebrate the BOY” (boy-themed posts for a whole month!). Rae is also one of the nicest people you’ll find in the online sewing world and she is, hands-down, our favorite sewist who is also a “temporarily-retired” high school physics teacher!
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