Thursday, 7 October 2010

Pinking Shears?!

I always liked pinking shears. The zig zagging of the fabric cut, both practical and decorative. Even the name is quaint. I have always wondered why they were called pinking shears haven't you?
One explanation is that they were named after Dianthus, commonly known as "pinks" the original little pink carnation flowers that are so hardy they can even survive in MY garden lol. The petals have a saw-tooth or zig-zag edge as you can see:

What i didn't realise is that there are different types of pinking shears. I don't mean the fancy variety of shears that scrap-bookers use on paper, but the way that the blades sit.
The first pair I owned I picked up at a garage sale for $2. Not very sharp. The second pair I bought at auction. Only I didn't know I was buying them. Just one of the little serendipidies of life. A little cupboard I bought and paid a few dollars for, had once been used as a sewing cabinet and unbeknownst to me when I bid on it, it contained treasures from it's former life. I will share more of them another day as there are so many little treasures. Amongst them were these pinking shears which have a flat blade instead of a blade where the teeth sit at right angles to the blade. Below is a picture of both pairs. On the left are the flat bladed pinking shears, the $2 pair with the angled teeth, on the right. In between them is a little scrap with the edges cut. You can see the flat bladed shears make a shallower cut.
 You can see the blade differences a bit better here in the second pic.
I can imagine it would be easy to either sharpen the flat pair, or, remove the flat blades, which are actually separate from the main blade and replace them. there is a small pin and you can see which the hole in the blade sits over to hold it in place. Unlike some modern pairs, both have a bolt which can be undone.
Some people say pinking shears can't be sharpened, but I have read that a skilled sharpener can do it. It pays to have one you can trust not to ruin them though. Otherwise, two other tips to hone the edge, is to cut through extremely fine grit sandpaper or even kitchen foil.
I feel a bit weird talking about pinking shears like someone would care, lol. I also have a very long and heavy pair of dressmakers  shears which once belonged to my Mother-in-law. I enjoy using old and vintage pieces. I wonder about the hands that have held them and the things they have helped to create.

Do you have a special pair of scissors or a hand tool that you treasure?


  1. Interesting post! I like it. I will also try to make something like that this weekend. Looking forward for your next post.


  2. I just managed to get a vintage pair of pinking shears off e-bay recently. Really wanted my mums old ones but she has no idea where they are :-(

  3. Thank you so much for this wealth of information. The flowers really cute keep posting!