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Studio Davina – Cutting Arsenal pt. 1

Studio Davina: Cutting Arsenal - scissors & shears

Studio Davina
Sewing Tool Kit, Pt. 1
Cutting Arsenal

In the next few posts, I’m going to take you through some of the tools I simply cannot do without!  I’m starting with cutting tools, as my students often ask, “what kind of scissors should I buy?”  Below is my list of my favorites.

Scissors vs. Shears

The difference between scissors and shears is the length of the blade.  Scissors is a generic term that relates to the style of cutting tool, with two blades, that are connected by a fulcrum point.  Shears are a subset of scissors and generally have blades that are 7″ or longer. In the image to the right, the three pair of shears are at the top, and my three favorite pairs of scissors are at the bottom.  There is also a lone pair of snips, third from the bottom.

Favorite Scissors

For ease of discussion, I’m going to start at the bottom with my smallest tools and work upwards toward my largest.  Although I do own a variety of brands, I find that I gravitate towards Gingher as a matter of personal taste. Gingher is a German brand of scissors, shears, snips and all manner of cutting tools. I started using Gingher shears when I was in fashion school and I can attest to their longevity.  They have survived the making of thousands of garments and and as they wear out, I’m replacing them with the same styles.

Decorative Embroidery Scissors  (Image: Bottom)
One of the tools that I find myself picking up when I’m doing a lot of bead embroidery, or disassembling costumes are a pair of gold-handled “stork” shaped embroidery scissors.  These scissors can get into tiny places that my regular scissors just can’t reach.  A length of ribbon through both handles allows me to put these around my neck to have at hand immediately no matter which work-station I’m using. I buy affordable versions of these scissors because I have been known to give them away to folks who admire them at costuming events.

5-inch Craft Scissors (Image: Fourth from Bottom)
When I purchased these scissors, they went by the name of “Tailor’s Points.” These sturdy, handy pointed scissors are my favorite for precision pattern cutting, trimming in small places and general clean-up work, especially when working on tailored garments.

6” Duck Billed Applique Scissors (Image: Second from the Bottom)
These are the best scissors for trimming seam allowances and when making beaded appliqué on lace and net. Although these are not my most used scissors, I do use them often!

Thread Cutting Snips

4.5 Inch knife edge thread nippers (Image: Third from Bottom)
One of the ways that I can keep my sewing productivity high is to use a pair of thread snips.  Although they may seem unessential, I find a good pair of snips will speed up the time spent machine sewing.  I can pick them up without having to wind my fingers through any holes.  Just squeeze to snip your thread.  If you think about how many times you pick up and set down a pair of scissors, you will see the value of a pair of snips.

Fabric Cutting Shears

8-Inch – Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears (Image: Top Center)
The workhorse in my collection, this is my second pair in a 30-year costuming career. I find I use these on the daily for cutting fabric and patterns.  Useful, dependable, with great longevity.

10-inch – Bent Handled Trimmers (Image: Top Right)
When I need something big and beefy for cutting out thick brocades, upholstery fabric, and heavy weight buckram, these are the shears I reach for.

Kai 8” Dressmaking Shears (Image: Top Left)
Lightweight, yet super-sharp from a Japanese company that also makes high-grade kitchen utensils.  When I saw that the manufacturer of my favorite Santoku knife also made sewing shears, I had to have a pair. Sewing shears –  Santuko knife –

Tips for Building Your Cutting Arsenal

But you may ask, “Where do I begin?”  And I really think a seamstress could get by with one pair of 7″ – 8″ bent handled fabric shears.  They are useful for cut fabric, trimming garments, and clipping threads.  You might find these shears a bit unwieldy in tight locations, but you can get the job done.  When you are ready to buy a second pair, pick a good quality small pair of craft or embroidery scissors.

Tools will be with you through the construction of many garments, so invest in the best quality you can afford. If you think you might like a particular style of scissors or shears, pick up an affordable pair and try it out.  If it becomes an essential tool in your kit, then upgrade to better quality.

If you got all the way to the bottom of this list, I want to thank you!
Best of luck putting together and refining your own sewing kit.
Dawn Devine ~ Davina
Aug. 10, 2017

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