The perfect embroidery scissors

Whenever I teach a class I take my little scissors with me and they travel around the classroom as I go. Invariably, because I am comfortable with them, I use them when demonstrating how to cut threads in Portuguese Whitework and Hardanger embroidery.

In Portuguese Whitework, there are usually eight threads to be cut at a time. I cut the first four (in groups of two) to demonstrate the process and explain a few things, then I hand the embroidery back to the student and they get to cut the remaining four threads.

In the class requirements I always state “sharp, fine-pointed scissors” and they bring along the best they have that fulfills that requirement. Most of the time the student picks up their scissors, looks at them and realises how big, clunky and not very sharp they are. Sometimes they persist with theirs because that’s what they’ll be using at home, and other times, they ask to use mine (which I don’t mind at all).

So then the next question is: “Where did you get your scissors?” I have picked up my scissors in various places over the years. My first pair were bought for me by my parents back in high school when I first started doing Hardanger embroidery. They are lovely, lovely scissors. They are also quite precious, so I don’t usually take them to classes.

I have another pair that I purchased quite cheaply at a local craft store, about 10-15 years ago and they’re very good too. But the ones I usually take to a class with me are a pair of $5 scissors that were actually sent to me by the Australian distributor as a sample about 5 years ago. They’re the type that are often sold at craft shows.

In a recent class, we had a discussion of these $5 scissors and we compared all the ones that class members had. It seems that the earlier pairs (including mine) are very much finer than the recent pairs, which tend to be much thicker and therefore not nearly so useful as the ones I have, for cutting threads.

Because of the fact that none of the scissors that I have are readily available any more, I have no scissors that I can actually recommend my students. I decided that something had to be done about this, because they ALWAYS ask me. I’ve been looking around at local shops and have seen nothing I like or that will suit my requirements. Last week I hopped onto the website of my scissors supplier and ordered about eight different pairs of scissors, carefully assessing what looked to be best from the photos that they had there. But while I can see how finely pointed the blades are from side on (how scissors are always photographed) I can’t see how thick they are, and that can be very deceptive from a photograph. That’s why I had to take the plunge and order a whole heap.

I’m hoping that they arrive today. I will then check them all out and decide which I think are the best. Assuming that amongst them there IS one that I feel is good enough, I will then stock those scissors as my recommended “perfect embroidery scissors” so that others can have a great thread cutting experience too.

Stay tuned.

5 comments to The perfect embroidery scissors

  • Anne

    I get my scissors from the Scissorman in Curtin, ACT – they have good range of scissors. I’ve also got a couple from a dissection kit that are wonderful.

  • yvette

    Thanks Anne. I actually looked at their range and I didn’t see any that were fine or sharply-pointed enough for what I wanted. Hence I decided to look further. I think my needs are much more specific than the general population, but also the general embroidering population. :-) I must say I’ve never thought of using dissection scissors…!

  • Rachel

    Getting the right pair of scissors is so important, too, because so much can go wrong if you have the wrong tool for the task at hand…

  • Karen from Nanaimo

    The woman who taught me Schwalm embroidery swears by a CDN$9 pair of iris (as in your eye) scissors she got from a local medical supply place.

  • yvette

    Karen, that’s really interesting. I’ve never thought of trying medical scissors, and now you’re the second person who has suggested them!

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