A Cut Above

We sewers (sewists?) often look for ways to economize. We lay out patterns and cut to maximize the usefulness of scraps. We hand sew with the few yards of thread left on a bobbin. Who needs fancy, expensive pattern weights when you can use canned goods for the same purpose? The way I see it, every dollar saved this way is one more dollar I can spend on fabric. But there's one tool that you should invest in, and spend as much as you can afford.


I have a couple of dozen pair, from high-end shears to junk of questionable provenance. I actually use four pair regularly--a pair of 9" dressmaker shears, a pair of 7" trimmers, a pair of 8" dressmaker shears and a sharp pointed 4" detail scissor. The rest stay in my toolchest drawer, languishing. What should you look for in scissors and shears to get the pair best for you and the way you work? First, comfort. Do the finger holes fit you comfortably? Do you have mobility issues that spring-assisted shears can minimize? How heavy are the pair you're considering? Another point to consider is the configuration of the blade tips. I like a sharp tipped blade, and I need a shorter blade for lots of power when trimming thick corners and grading chubby seam allowances. Think carefully about what you need, and then start shopping for that perfect pair.

Joan Radell