Hi everyone! Welcome to the RMWS blog and my first blog post ever. Before we jump into this month’s topic, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself.
My name is Lisa Russell and I have been stitching since I was 13 years old. I am a self-taught stitcher, having purchased a small kit back in the day when I tried every craft from knitting to macramé to glass etching and beyond to keep myself occupied. Although I have not stitched continuously lo these 30+ years, the gaps filled with small babies and crazy jobs and unemployment, stitching was the one thing that stuck with me.
In my experience, I find that stitching is able to mold itself around whatever interests me at a given time, whether the patterns be whimsical or serious, simple or complex, modern or historical. Thanks to the range of products, I also find that I can create pretty much anything for any occasion or holiday. I can sit for hours stitching something that I know will be lovingly accepted by a recipient, or I can relish in a project that I selfishly construct for myself. I imagine that you folks will agree with me when I say stitching accommodates everyone. But that’s enough about me… on to the blog topic.
Today’s topic is the first in a series of six about the tools we use. I have some ideas for other topics once this series is complete, but I would love to hear from you, the members, regarding topics of interest so let me know and I will plate them up for consumption. We can never have too many things to talk about while we stitch, right?
If I were to ask you what the most important tool in your stitching arsenal was, what would you say? Would everyone have a different answer? Think about the one tool that you use every day, every time you stitch, without fail. The one thing that doesn’t change or waiver, that you would make you crazy if you lost track of it, and stays close to your side (or even attached to you)… did you answer scissors? Because if you did, then you know where this topic is headed.
Scissors, or some kind of cutting implement, is one of the single most used tools for stitching. This doesn’t mean that you have one pair per se, since there are different scissors for different applications and even different locations or scenarios. But scissors remain a constant in our stitching world, so let’s take a look at some of the particulars about scissors.
Shears – These are what most people imagine when they hear scissors. However, shears are specifically made for cutting fabric. They are large in size, somewhere between 6”-8” with long blades. They typically have a small thumb hole and a larger opening for the fingers. Most importantly, they have a slight angle to the blades, making it easier to cut against a flat surface. Pinking shears also fall into this category and are used to finish the raw edge of the fabric to keep it from unraveling.
Shears should be sharp in order to cut through fabric efficiently. You can test the blades by trying to cut cleanly and quickly through a piece of doubled scrap fabric. If you can’t cut through it, they aren’t sharp enough. To maintain their edge, label and use them for fabric only.
Scissors – These are quite different from shears. They are straight… straight bodies and straight blades. These are slightly smaller than shears, usually between 4 ½” – 6”. The holes for the thumb and fingers are typically uniform in size. Scissors are used for detail work like hems and seam allowances where the smaller size and precision cutting is required.
Snips – These are basically a small version of scissors. They have the same straight blades and body, with uniform finger and thumb holes. Snips are used to cut threads while sewing.
Embroidery Scissors – I bet you own a pair (or two or ten) of these. Embroidery scissors are a specific, refined version of snips used for cutting threads. They are small and delicate, and while you will often see ornate versions of them (sometimes in a stork-like pattern with the blades as the beak), they come in functional varieties too. The tiny blades and sharp points allow for extreme precision when cutting embroidery threads.
Curved Embroidery Scissors – These scissors are curved up, against the flat of the blade which allows for cutting a jump thread with a precise cut. The design helps avoid snipping the portions of your embroidery that you don’t want cut. Especially useful when you need to undo, or frog, portions of your stitching that have an error.
Some important points (get it?!) about scissors:
• Scissors can pick up residue from various uses, so clean them regularly. Run a cotton ball soaked with alcohol (carefully now!) over the blades to clean them. This will help keep residue from transferring to fabric.
• To help your scissors last longer, don’t use scissors that are designated for one application for another. For example, don’t use your good fabric shears or snips to cut cardboard.
• Label your scissors for their various uses and keep them in a safe place to protect the blades (as well as people and pets).
• Decide whether you want to invest in better scissors and keep them longer by having the blades sharpened periodically, or if you would rather spend less on scissors and replace them every so often when they dull or bend. Either way is fine (the stitching police won’t come after you), just know the pros and cons to each decision.
I hope you have found this topic enlightening and useful.If you have any questions or comment, I would love, love, love to hear from you.
Hugs and stitches!