A cut above the rest

Scissors for sewing

This year’s Great British Sewing Bee couldn’t be better timed given the country is in lockdown and looking for inspiration and purpose, to distract minds and busy hands.

Honest as ever, our sewing capabilities aren’t up to scratch.  What we want to be able to make, and what we can make, are two very different things.  The Tinker and Fix mentality of ‘let’s give it a go and see where it gets us’ doesn’t work as well with sewing as it does in the garden or garage. Banging it harder with a hammer doesn’t make the pattern work. Nor does styling it out and saying that it was always our intention (as we do in the garden).

So, we watch with awe as others turn fabric into creations.  We wonder at the construction and techniques. We get inspired to give it another go.  Instead of talent, we turn our attention to tools (our default setting) because that’s something we do understand. 

There are two tools you really need to be a cut above the rest; scissors and snips.

Firstly, the right scissors can (obviously) make all the difference – what to look for:

  • ‘Sidebent’ scissors allow you to cut fabric more easily along a flat surface (your table, when the fabric is laid out and your cutting the pattern out).
  • A quality blade made by companies that have knowledge and expertise that they’ve honed over the years. For a start, look to anything that’s ‘Sheffield made’ – they are renowned over the world for their expertise in making things from steel and for making things that cut (anything with a blade; cutlery, penknives and scissors). Both of the fabric scissors we stock are Sheffield made.
  • A good blade weight enables a keener edge, and more importantly helps with precision – meaning better accuracy and control.
  • Fit to hand – there’s something aesthetically and kinaesthetically pleasing about metal scissors that feel right in your hand. Which is important when you’re using them a lot.
  • The ability to sharpen the scissors – buy once, buy well.
  • Of course you also need to get the right pair according to whether you are left or right handed. And yes, left handed fabric scissors are generally more expensive and we know that’s not fair but there are fewer left handed people, so less demand, which means fewer production runs which increases prices (sorry to all the lefties). 

We’ve chosen to stock three very different options for scissors that can be used for sewing.  

  • There’s an amazing pair of sidebent fabric scissors from Whiteley’s (reputed to be the best maker of scissors in Sheffield) that really are a great investment and are often bought as great gift.
  • We also stock a great general fabric scissor from Merchant and Mills – they are a general scissor (not sidebent), but are certainly up for the task and are a really cost effective option.
  • Finally – Fiskars - they aren’t from Sheffield and they have plastic handles, but they are seriously good sidebent scissors that make light work of fabric.

Secondly, to be a cut above the rest you need a quality pair of thread snips. They can come in all shapes and sizes.  Again, we stock three different options – as everyone has their particular favourite cutting mechanism, so we’ve picked our favourite for each:

  • Whiteley’s snips are sprung open, which you ‘snip’ closed. They have finger loop, so they can be ready on your hand for when you need them.
  • Niwaki’s mini snips (made in Japan – again, where they really know how to handle steel and make things that cut well) are also sprung open, slightly smaller in the hand, without a finger loop.
  • Fiskars’ are a mini pair of scissors.

We also sell a cracking pair of pinking shears from Whiteley’s. They perhaps don’t fall under the ‘essential’ category, but they are definitely a great edition to your sewing kit.

Enjoy watching the sewing bee and if you’re feeling inspired to tool up, we’ll share some videos about all the scissors and thread snips we’ve mentioned here on Instagram.



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