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An Introduction to the Different Types of Cutting Tools for Sewing

Joseph Park clippers cutting tools scissors shears

A tailor cutting fabric with sewing shears

Ancient forms of scissors were used by the Mesopotamians some 4,000 years ago and by the Egyptians around 3,500 years ago. The blades of these early scissors were held in place by a flexible, bent piece of metal, which allowed for the blades to be used for cutting.

Pivoted scissors are a more recent invention, appearing in the Roman Empire between the 1st and 2nd century AD or 2,000 to 1,900 years ago. Today, these pivoted scissors come in a variety of types, but their basic mechanism remains the same: two pieces of metal blades are held together by a screw at their pivot point.

Scissors and other cutting tools are among the most important tools for anyone who sews. While having a pair of all-purpose scissors can be helpful, it certainly won’t be enough for all the tasks that you need to accomplish. As such, we’ve made this introductory guide to help you get started on figuring out the right kind of cutting tools that you might need for your sewing projects.

All purpose scissors – Standard craft or sewing scissors can be used for general-purpose tasks to prevent your other cutting tools from wearing away quickly.

Standard tailor’s scissors – Standard tailor’s scissors typically have one blunt and one pointed blade. The blunt end of one blade prevents the fabric from catching on the blade and getting damaged as a result.

Pinking shears – Pinking shears have serrated blades that create zigzag-patterned seams. This zigzag pattern helps prevent the fabric edge from unraveling.

Scalloping shears – Scalloping shears are just like pinking shears, but instead of a zigzag pattern, they create rounded or scalloped cuts on the fabric.

Bent-handled shears – Bent-handled shears have bent lower handles that keep the shears flush with the surface of the cutting table. This affords the users better comfort and greater precision when they cut fabrics.

Thread clippers – Thread clippers are small scissors used for nipping excess thread and parts of the fabric that have frayed or unraveled. Some clippers look like the ancient type of scissors because their blades are held together by a bent piece of metal.

Buttonhole scissors – Buttonhole scissors have a small screw that you can turn in order to adjust the blade, creating cuts of certain lengths for the purpose of making buttonholes. These scissors also have notches on their blades, which allow you to make the buttonholes without cutting the edge of the fabric.

Quilting scissors – There are many types of quilting scissors and shears, but the basic ones you’ll need for quilting are rag quilting snips and soft-touch spring-action shears. Rag quilting snips can help you make cuts perpendicular to the seam of a quilt, while soft-touch spring-action shears allow users to cut heavy materials with ease.

Embroidery scissors – Doing works of embroidery require very precise trimming. Thankfully, there are different types of embroidery scissors that you can use to make sure that your projects turn out perfectly. For instance, a pair of embroidery appliqué scissors has a “duckbill” blade, which is designed to protect the base fabric when the user is working on an appliqué. The duckbill blade lifts the fabric being cut off, allowing the user to perform close trimming without damaging the fabric. Other types of embroidery scissors include curved tip scissors, steeple tip scissors, hook-blade scissors, and double-curved scissors.

Rotary cutters – Rotary cutters don’t exactly look like regular scissors. In fact, with its round rolling blade, it actually looks more like a pizza cutter. Rotary cutters can be used to cut through angles that might be tough to cut with regular scissors. If you need to cut through several layers of fabric all at once, rotary cutters can also be useful.

Before buying a pair of scissors, try it at the store first so that you can have a feel whether or not it’s comfortable to hold and use. Once you build your collection, it is important that you take care of your cutting tools properly so that they will last a long time. Never use fabric scissors and shears on materials other than actual fabrics.

To keep them sharpened, bring them to a professional sharpening service provider or sharpen them yourself if you have the equipment and know-how. Some scissors are sold with a simple sharpening tool, which you can also use. The point is to make sure that your cutting tools are always sharp for that refined cut that you need.



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