Monday, June 15, 2015

Sewing Tools - Make Them Work For YOU!

Part 1 - Cutting Tools
by Mary Beth RetroMonkeys

We all have our favorites when it comes to our tools for sewing. Some of us (you) are organized, some, like me, can't ever find anything! Below is a summary of some tools, their uses, and how to care for them. 

First - Sewing Shears - Protected from any uses other than fabric with threats of Mayhem!

Wow - the choices are almost endless! The type of cutting tools that you need will depend on what you are cutting as well as personal preference. 

 The Basic - Invest in a good pair of shears. If cared for properly, these will last a lifetime! Have them sharpened occasionally to keep them free of nicks.

Sewing Shears

  9" Dura Shears Fabric Scissors by Havels Sewing

Pinking Shears

Pinking shears - I don't personally use them very much. I have a basic serger to deal with my seams and I mainly sew with cottons that don't tend to fray. I have used them when sewing with linens and loosely woven wool. Anytime the fabric has a tendency to fray, pinking shears are in order! They were widely used prior to zig-zag stitching becoming available as well as sergers being made available to the home sewist. 

Thread Snips
Fiskars Soft Touch  Titanium Nitride Scissors

Gingher Knife Edge Thread Nippers
I chose to purchase the Fiskars soft touch scissors. I find them to be really versatile. I use them as thread snips, to nip small "v's", to rip stitches, as embroidery scissors, etc... The choices are endless! You can get a small pair that hangs on a chain around your neck or a pocket sized pair. The prices vary greatly too.

Embroidery Scissors

Silver Embroidery Scissors 4" 
Embroidery scissors are designed to snip close to the fabric. The blades are short and have very sharp points. The more precise the points and the fit, the better. The nicer ones can be pricey, like most scissors but again, it's worth it. 

Rotary Cutters

Fiskars Rotary Cutter 45mm 

I love rotary cutters! I have one hand that doesn't always do what it's told and for some reason that truly makes no sense, the rotary cutters are easier for me to control. I also love that they are so sharp that I don't have to use much pressure. The downside? The ongoing cost of the blades. Well I found a couple of ways to lessen that pain. First, a sharpener. I have one made by Dritz that works to make the blades last a bit longer. The other is - Harbor Freight Tools SOMETIMES carries packs of the blades labeled carpet cutting blades. A pack of 2 45 mm for $1.99!                    
Harbor Freight 45mm Blades                              Dritz Rotary Blade Sharpener
Olfa Gridded Cutting Mat

Rotary Mats

Think they are all the same? Wrong! There are two types - Self Healing and  Hard Surface. Hard Surface the blade doesn't penetrate the mat, self healing the blade does penetrate the mat and the material "heals" by reclosing the cut.

Professional grade mats are 3 mm thick vs crafter mats at 2 mm. Look for a mat in the largest size that your space can accommodate. Make sure the markings on the mat are the measurements that you prefer.

To keep that mat working well, store it flat! The mat will appreciate it and so will you every time you use it. Keep it clean with a spritz of mild household cleaner or a cloth dampened with soapy water. Just give it a good swipe to remove any embedded threads and debris.

Organize it! 

I found this great rotary cutter organizer on

Created out of need - a great new product for any sewist using cutters. 

Scissor Storage Ideas
Great spacesaver! Drop scraps in the bin and store all of your tools in the outer pocket. 
Available at AllBrands

Desk organizers work well too! Scour your home for an unused one

Desk Organizer

That's it for now! I'll be back next week 
with Part 2! 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Great article!
    Reminds me of the time I "borrowed" my mothers sewing shears to cut out my paper dolls. She very gently explained that those shears were not meant to be used on paper. Of course as a small child there were lots of "but Why" comments involved.....Now as a Grandmother I understand and hope to be able to be as "gentle" as my mother was!

  3. My mom taught me about not using the sewing shears on paper from a very, very young age!

  4. Not mentioned --one I use all too often---the very useful seam ripper.

    My personal favorite is a pair of 9 inch antique German shears that I bought at an estate sale for $3.00 Oh I wish I could see the garments my shears were involved in creating. I've been careless with a lot of scissors but i take utmost care of these.

  5. Great post. Still looking for scissors that I truly love.

  6. Tools of the trade.........some like scissors have been around for hundreds of years. Wonder if the cutting wheels will last that long, being partly plastic that is.

  7. I LOVE my rotary cutters, use them almost exclusively. Still, I can't pass up a good pair of vintage scissors at an estate sale, where they're usually $3-$6. Last time I organized and cleaned up my sewing space, I discovered over 20 pairs, all sharp and ready to cut!

  8. Perfect timing...I'm looking to replace my 20 year old scissors!
    I use a rotary more these days but noting beats an awesome pair of scissors!