Sunday, December 15, 2013

Important tools in a seamstress' arsenal: numbah two!

Good tidings to you in this season of joy, giving, and unfortunate holiday stress! I hope you all are avoiding the stress where you can and instead spending time with loved ones creating memories. Remember that this season is about giving, not receiving, and that often giving time is more important than giving presents. I would rather have a few quiet evenings spent playing games with and chatting with my family and friends than receive many expensive presents.

This week, I come to you with a brief but hopefully informative post about one of the infinitely important tools in a seamstress or gentleman seamster's arsenal:

Pinking shears! When I first started sewing and acquiring the tools for my new craft, I didn't even know what pinking shears were. The first time I saw a pair, I thought they seriously resembled those craft scissors you use in scrapbooking, the kind that leave fun shapes on the paper you're cutting. I thought maybe they were for some sort of creative fabric-cutting, and perhaps they left special edges for aesthetically pleasing designs. All I knew was that there was no way I'd ever need those things. As it turned out, I was quite wrong. Pinking shears are very useful for finishing seams. If you have a serger, that works better in many cases, but sergers are much more expensive than a simple pair of pinking shears and can be a daunting investment for someone just getting into the craft. I inherited my serger, and I'll admit I don't know how to use it yet so much of my finishing seams has been with my pinking shears.

Like my shears, these are Fiskars pinking shears.
They are not my exact pair, but they are similar.
The hover link is the image's source.
Here's a breakdown of what pinking shears do. Fabric is made by interlocking threads that go in two opposite directions. They weave together to form a whole. Look closely at any material and you will see these interlocking threads. Think of the looms many of us did as children, where you use a little hook and loop the bands under and over other bands to make potholders and other small things. Fabric is exactly like that, only much smaller threads and more intricately woven. When you cut this fabric, you run the risk of a single thread coming loose and separating from the rest. Then another will follow suit, and another, and another, until your fabric is unraveling. Ever had a pair of jeans sprout a hole in the knee? Remember how you could pluck the thread away from the hole and make it bigger? That's what I'm talking about here. Now, one way to break up this sort of unraveling is to break up the line of thread so that one strand can't free itself and loosen the entire length. That's where the jagged edge of pinking shears comes in. It breaks up the line of the fabric, helping to slow the fraying process.

Things to consider when purchasing pinking shears:

  • Good ones tend to be upwards of $20. Cheaper ones are available, but since you'll be using these a lot and the sharpness of the blade matters, I recommend getting a nicer pair. I have two pairs, one of which I inherited and the other of which I bought, and the bought pair cost me about $25. They've been well worth it and I don't regret the purchase in the slightest. They can be a slightly costly investment, but they're one I recommend making.
  • You'll be using them a lot to finish off seams, so get a pair that are comfortable for you. My preferred pair have a comfort grip and are fairly large. The inherited pair have a plain plastic grip and are not nearly as comfortable to use. To me, the comfort really matters, and it's worth paying a little extra for.
  • Pinking shears also come with bells and whistles and titles to make them sound more valuable. Do your research on all these special features before buying to make sure you really need and want what you're getting. A lot of the shears I've seen that tend to be on the $40 side are solid metal and look all shiny and fancy, but they're really not comfortable. They have a nice heft to them, but I'm not buying my shears for their heft, I'm buying them for comfort and efficacy. What I'm saying here is don't be swayed by titles like "dressmaker's shears" or similar claims. Do your homework, make sure these are what you want, and while they are worth investing in, make sure you're not over-investing in something that ultimately won't be worth the extra expense.
That's all I can think of for now with pinking shears. They're very very useful, but be careful about buying overpriced shears; I've seen them up to $80 for one pair. To me, they're not worth quite that much. My $25 pair will do just fine, thank you very much. If you don't already have a pair in your arsenal, start shopping now!

And good night, dear readers - good night.

No comments:

Post a Comment