From the Three of Us: Running with Scissors (+ a Special Anniversary Giveaway)

Giveaway-GoldTechnology has changed our lives in many places,  the sewing room among them. We 21st-century stitchers are beneficiaries of so many advances: computerized sewing machines; accurate and sturdy rulers for every conceivable use;  instruction available 24/7 via the ‘net. In the cutting department, we have rotary cutters in all sizes, perfect for cleanly cutting straight or scalloped edges, and cutting systems such as AccuQuilt, capable of quickly cutting dozens of identical shapes. Yet, despite the options, sometimes nothing will do but a good, old-fashioned pair of scissors.

Darra's 3" x 5" collage, Snip-It!, with a pair of her (well-used) favorites, a gift from friend Chris Porter
Darra’s 3″ x 5″ collage, Snip-It!, with a pair of her (well-used) favorites, a gift from friend Chris Porter

No one knows for certain exactly when scissors made the scene, or even how they got their name, but there are some pretty well-acknowledged guesses. A single-bladed, scissor-like implement was evident in Egypt, circa 1500 B.C. The cross-bladed, pivoted configuration more familiar to us today likely dates to the early-2nd-century Romans. As for the name: according to Merriam-Webster, the Middle English word cisours (or sisoures) was in use by the mid-14th century, tracing its roots to the Latin caedare (“to cut”).

In honor of this venerable and versatile tool, we thought it would be fun to share a snippet or two of our own history with scissors: memories, favorites, even a tip–you’ll find it here!

Jennifer’s Ode to Her Scissors

Even as a child, when I was a novice sewer, I realized scissors were imbued with mythic power. Those shiny, big shears were strictly off limits except for cutting fabric. Honestly, I was a little afraid of them. Not so much now. What with rotary cutters and such, we’ve got scads of choices when it comes to our cutting ways. As for scissors, I favor a sporty model that Diana McClun gave me a few years ago—it was the designated giveaway for the Empty Spools sessions at Asilomar (CA) that year. I love them because they are the racy sports car version of scissors: they are sharp, corner well, snip cleanly right up to the tip of the blade, and they are also exotically international—they are Japanese by birth.

Jennifer's go tos, artfully displayed
Jennifer’s go tos, artfully displayed

Laura Checks In

I have always enjoyed having a pair of scissors in my hands. Sometimes the cuts did not produce the outcome I had hoped for; for example, at around age 4, I clearly recall cutting the beautiful, long curls from my best friend’s new bride doll . . . sorry Patty! (Perhaps this experience softened me when, at around the same age, my younger daughter gave her best friend a haircut.)

Betsy McCall first appeared in McCall's in 1951.
Betsy McCall first appeared in McCall’s in 1951.

Soon after, I was given my own pair of safety scissors. I remember patiently awaiting the arrival of the monthly McCalls Magazine  just to be able to flip to the last page and cut out the newest version of the Betsy McCall paper doll that appeared in each issue. For me, it was always about the cutting and much less about playing with the dolls.

When I started dressmaking, a pair of beautiful Gingher shears were my new treasured tool. When I want accurate cutting for large or multiple fabric shapes, these are my scissors of choice. I have a variety of small, embroidery-type scissors and use them for all my appliqué and embroidery projects. Like Jennifer, I also was gifted with a pair of Kai scissors. They have become my new favorite pair.

Some of Laura's favorites
Some of Laura’s favorites

A Tip From Darra

Funny how our memories overlap. I have similar recollections of the forbidden fabric scissors: I learned about the distinction when I was discovered trimming my bangs with Mom’s precious Wiss dressmaking shears. I also remember waiting impatiently for her to finish with McCall’s so I could get at those paper dolls. (Heavenly were the months when the reverse page contained no stories, just ads. Instant green light!)

Like Laura and Jennifer, I’ve accumulated quite a collection of sewing scissors over the years, and I have my favorites; however, I’ve got one special pair among my “essentials”
that you might find unusual: a pair of small, sharp, curved-bladed manicuring scissors. They are perfect for cutting out small (or otherwise) curvy shapes from template material. If they’re sharp enough, you can use them for cutting out curved applique shapes from fused fabric as well. I wouldn’t be without them!

Curved manicuring scissors--perfect for cutting small curved templates and pieces, like the pockets and such in April Showers for Sunbonnet Sue by Chris Porter
Curved manicuring scissors–perfect for cutting small curved templates and pieces, like the pockets and such in April Showers for Sunbonnet Sue by Chris Porter

Leave a comment telling us about your favorite scissors by noon Thursday, April 4, and you’ll be eligible to win a pair of shiny new 8″ Gingher knife-edge dressmaking shears . . . and a secret bonus that we’ll reveal when we announce the winner in our Friday, April 5 post. It’s a special, double giveaway to mark a very special milestone: the 2nd anniversary of See How We Sew!

Ginghers

We hope your week includes some time for stitching.

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78 thoughts on “From the Three of Us: Running with Scissors (+ a Special Anniversary Giveaway)

  1. Superb blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring
    writers? I’m planning to start my own blog

    soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like

    WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused .. Any ideas? Thank

    you!

    Like

  2. This post got me thinking about my very first pair of sewing scissors, purchased as a newlywed in 1967. They have my initials scratched into the handle and are now used in the kitchen for just about anything but sewing!

    Like

  3. When I read this post, my first thought was of the scissors my mother had in her tin sewing box. It was small and looked like a stork or some other long legged bird. The bill was the cutting end and the legs were where the fingers went. I used to be fascinated by the bird likeness. Unfortunately, i have no idea where those scissors wound up.

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  4. Gingher Scissors are the best and my favorite! The pair I use were my mother’s and she bought them in the late 60’s!! So very special. I can still hear her saying, “Stop using my Ginghers to cut paper, Mary!” That was long ago. Fabric only is my mantra now. I also have Gingher trimmer shears. Love them.

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  5. My favorite pair is my small ginghers when I am doing handwork…love, love your blog…also enjoyed seeing you gals at Alden Lane Nursery ‘Quilting in the Garden’! Thanks for the smiles!

    Like

  6. My favorite pair of scissors were given to me by my late mother and taken away by Dullas airport security in October after 9/11. They were gold with very sharp points but only a few inches long. They went everywhere with me up until that day as I am an avid quilter, knitter, needle pointer, and cross stitcher. I have never been able to find another pair quite like them.

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  7. sissors are wonderful, almost magical tool in the sewing tool box.My favorite is a light weight Gingher sissors for fabrics

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  8. My all time favorite scissors are a pair that a friend gave me, a pair of Dovo scissors. Which I dearly loved BUT someone in my family has swiped them. Cannot find them anywhere nor can I find a replacement pair. If anyone has an idea where I can buy another pair please let me know. I have searched the Internet for this one. So I am going to keep track of the posts to see if I can find a new pair to love and hide.

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    1. I too lost a pair to someone in the family. My very favorite scissors for cutting out paper snowflakes. They were fantastic. I’ve never, ever found them again, even after scouring the kids’ rooms many times over. I hope you can find your Dovos again Beth!

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  9. Thank you for the history lesson about scissors. I had the same memories of Betsy McCall paper dolls and scissors that were off-limits to little children when I was growing up. Today, my favorite pair of scissors is a Gingher 7″ shear. Even tho’ I have several rotary cutters, the scissors are important when sewing. I’ve been a follower of your blog for almost the two years you’ve been posting and enjoy your perspectives.

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  10. Must be in quilters’ genes to cut doll hair, siblings’ hair and their own hair as kids. I also used my mom’s nail polish to put make-up on my one and only doll. Still have the doll in the cedar chest with her nail polish cheeks and lips.
    Congratulations on your second anniversary. It is wonderful to read

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  11. Qh, definitely the Singer shears that were a gift from Mom. Never to be used to cut paper. was the admonishment delivered with them. I think that might have been after my sister and I used her shears to make paper decorations for the Christmas tree.

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  12. My favorite pair is my tiny pair of stork scissors, which I keep right next to my sewing machine to clip threads — just love them!

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  13. I can’t choose a favorite pair – all the other scissors would get their feelings hurt! I have my mother’s scissors, many pairs rescued from rummage sales and thrift shops, Gingher, Kai, Fiskars, Wiss. My house is a Scissors Shelter.

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    1. Love the idea of a shelter for scissors! If only I had that many. Perhaps I’ll start a more serious collection to rescue scissors like you Dot.

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  14. My favorite scissors came from my trip to Switzerland in 1973. I needed to travel light so I bought the smallest embroidery scissors I could find, the cute stork kind. They are still in my sewing kit today.

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  15. I have scissors and shears in a variety of sizes and brands, but I really love my Singer embroidery scissors I bought in a Singer store (remember those?) about 50 years ago. I wonder how many threads I’ve cut with them? I use them all the time!

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  16. My favorite scissors are a small pair of spring loaded snippers that came in a set of embroidery scissors from HSN. They’re seriously sharp and so easy on the hands that I use them in place of my seam ripper now.

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  17. A friend sent me a pair of Gingher scissors and I loved them, then my kids got a hold of them and ruined them. My kids are grown now, so time for a new pair that no one will touch. I loved how smoothly and easily they cut.

    Debbie

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  18. As I read the blog, I remembered the thrill of getting my hands on the ‘good scissors’ and giving my little sister and our new dolls hair cuts. I also remembered the unhappy looks from my Mother, and the discomfort of “Wait till your Father gets home!” Ah Youth! I have several pairs of scissors that are my go to’s. When I’m cross stitching I have a small pair of scissors that have a crane as the handle, a dear friend gave them to me one Christmas. She is gone on to a better place now, but every time I pick them up I’m reminded of her. Last Christmas, another good friend and her daughter gifted me with a pair of 2″ Ginger’s and a pair of Spring action 8″ Ginger’s. And then there is my old faithful pair of 9″ who know what scissors, I’ve had them so long that they are worn and the black handles look like a Dalmation dog (all spotty) and heavier than my laptop. Amazing how our favorite tools become friends we know we can count on. They are always there with comfort, and a get the job done attitude. Thanks so much for bringing back some memories.

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  19. This is a wonderful blog; has it been two years already? Congrats! My best scissors are ones I got from my mother-in-law — I didn’t start sewing until after I was married — including some very old pinking shears and the small pair I keep at the sewing machine. Now I need some that will accommodate my arthritic fingers. I look at new ones, but I don’t buy — but I can’t seem to shift my allegiance from my regular ones.

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  20. I have a basic pair of Fiskars that I bought when I went away to college. They even have my name etched on them in case they got lost. They are a little dull, but I hold on to them for sentimental reasons. :)

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  21. My favourite are the gingher small scissors that I use for my appliqué. I do have a pair of pinking scissors that were my grandmother’s that have sentimental memories associated with them and they still cut well (especially since I had them sharpened!). :)

    Enjoy reading your blog and the comments on this subject.

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  22. I have tons of embroidery scissors (mostly Gingher) but my favorite pair is the first ones I ever got, with the gold handles. I’ve used them so much that the gold is almost all worn off. For cutting threads at the machine I use a pair of Gingher big handled embroidery scissors.

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  23. My favorite scissor tool is my little curved snips, Famore made I think. I use these to snip threads close to my sewing daily. Another scissors that i have been loving lately is Karen Kay Buckley’s serrated scissors – just perfect for wool. Thanks for all the excellent posts!

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  24. My favorite scissors are a pair I don’t actually use. They were my Mom’s and I did use them when I was a young sewer. They are “Joy” brand that are about 6 inches long. They are my favorite because they remind me of my Mom and her sewing lessons.

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  25. My favorite pair are my Fiskars titanium edge with spring action. Oh, I have a PASSION for scissors…. at last count 27 pair. Don’t ask. lol Thanks for asking!
    Hi my name is Christina and I have a scissors addiction.. :::: voices say in unison “Hi Christina!”.

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  26. My favorite scissors aren’t used much for cutting anymore but they have been used by my maternal grandmother who gave them to my Dad when he taught himself to sew. Within 6 weeks he completed a simple house dress for my mother, she couldn’t sew a buttton on, and 2 Easter suits one for Mom & me and an Easter coat & hat for my baby sister. When I hold these I hold the hands of those who created my love for sewing and fabric! I love using Karen Kay Buckley’s scissors for detailed cutting, the small ones are great for tiny details.

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  27. My favourite scissors are my floral Klasse scissors that my Mum bought for me. They are always easy to find,always have sharp points (no they never cut paper!) and make me happy just looking at them.And if these are my good scissors are my other scissors evil?? : )

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    1. Ooh Jenny, interesting thought: evil scissors! Mostly, evil because they don’t cut cleanly. Nothing better than a clean slice when sewing. I’m loving all the comments and I, too, am happily a scissors addict like Christina.

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  28. I love all of my scissors…I am going to die with the most scissors! Not
    with the most Fabric. Seems I collect them.
    Happy Anniversary!

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  29. Aside from my utility scissors, which get me started on each quilt (I only make art quilts to hang on the wall), my favorite scissors are my 3 1/2″ “Delicate Detailer” scissors by Prym-Dritz. They have clipped many animal fur tufts and bird feathers for me. Their tiny blades can get into mini spaces that other scissors can’t touch. Those, combined with curved manicure scissors, have solved many a cutting challenge when I get down to the little details that make art quilts special! Love the blog!

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  30. Oh the scissors stories…I had my mother’s GOOD embroidery scissors on an airplane trip when I was Jr. High age…A LONG time ago when you could take scissors on the plane! I lost them. Yes, I lost them and I’ve never heard the end of it…or gotten over the guilt of it! But I learned my lesson…A sewer’s scissors are the most revered tool of all!

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  31. I too have several pairs of scissors…must be an occupational hazard of quilters/sewers! LOL! My favorite pair are a small pair of Gingher embroidery scissors that hang on a lanyard around my neck when I sew. They are right there when I need them, never have to hunt! Thank you for this great giveaway!

    Like

  32. My Gingher shears are my go to scissors for cutting fabric, and I use the Fiskers scissors when I have a repetitive job to do and I don’t want to tire my hand. I also love my little reverse spring snips that I keep by the sewing machine to cut threads. Aren’t we lucky we have so many kinds of scissors since we have so many different jobs to do when we are creating.

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  33. My grandmother taught me to sew – and knit, and crochet, and numerous other crafts. When I graduated from eighth grade, her gift to me was a pair of scissors for fabric. I do not recall the brand, but I felt so grown up and so proud to be the owner of a fine pair of scissors.

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  34. On my 7th birthday I received a gift in a brown paper bag dotted with grease marks. In it were several sugar donuts — and a pair of scissors! It’s been with me for more than 60 years, through many, many moves and changes in life. It’s my favorite pair of scissors ever.

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  35. Scissors – can never have enough of them. But, I would have to say my favorite is a pair of 4″ serrated embroidery scissors.

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  36. i have a little pair of Dovo scissors that are as sharp as can be – I think they might be my favorites of the dozen or so pairs that I use. I might be a scissorophyle :)

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  37. I too still have my Weiss scissors from years ago. Now I have about 5 pairs of scissors, my favorite being Gingher! One can never have enough! Love your blogs. Thanks for the opportunity to win.

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  38. I also have fond childhood memories of cutting out many Betsy McCall paper dolls! My best story is that I decided to trim my bangs – just before Mom took me to have my picture taken at a photographer’s studio! She went ahead and had it made, chopped bangs, pigtails and missing front teeth. It’s been a funny 8″ x 10″ reminder for me to be understanding when my kids would be “creative”! My old pinking shears are my only really good scissors. I’m in market for a new pair to use for fabric only and am getting lots of ideas from this blog for what to try.

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  39. I, too, loved Betsey McCall paper dolls. I keep a pair of scissors in every room of the house. Of course, I keep my good scissor hidden. I don’t have one favorite pair — it depends on what I am working on. My little applique scissors are my “go to” pair. Happy 2nd anniversary!

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  40. Oh, yes, the intimidation instilled about not using Mom’s sewing scissors and passing that along to a husband who would pick up and use anything within reach. My “go to” scissors are still my old Fiskars – the first ones I got when I began quilting which I have sharpened with their sharpening tool many times. I have many wonderful pairs of scissors but those old Fiskars are still my work horse pair!

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  41. Oh those fabric scissors! As a child it was the worst thing you could do in our house- be caught using my mothers dressmaking scissors to cut paper!
    Jennifer, you will give me nightmares though. Open scissors on fabric! The other big crime in the sewing room. A college colleague of my mothers did that on the day final submissions were due and on reaching over to close them snipped the fabric. Her final project, a suit, demonstrated her skill in pattern making, tailoring and DARNING!!!

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  42. My favorite scissors came from my Mom after her death. They have her name written on them in fingernail polish. My second favorite have “NO !!” written on them in fingernail polish, a reminder that they were not to be used by children cutting paper.

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  43. I love your “scissor’s history,” it somewhat parallels my own. Maybe they’re not true scissors, but I recall a time in which I used pinking shears to finish seams when making garments as it was the easiest acceptable way to finish seams before the zigzag machine. Certainly not one of my favorite because my hand was always tired/sore from using them, but nonetheless noteworthy because I used them so much. Today I love my ergonomic Fiskars which put less stress on my hand and lately I have been using them to cut T-shirts to prepare for my second T-shirt quilt for my daughters. I have to hide my good scissors as my husband of 40 years still has “no respect” and I am in constant fear that he will use my good shears to cut paper, tape or anything else so I have “designated” scissors for him especially in the kitchen.

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  44. Congrats on your 2nd year of blogging and always look forward to your blog posts! My favorites are a pair of Ginghers dressmaking shears and also have found Kai’s to be really great lately. I think I have the 4″ one of those. Shortly after I married and bought my Elna I had to have a pair of Ginghers and they were of course guarded from the kids. They knew enough not to use them. However 5 kids later – my tinkering 4 year old son decided he needed to cut the wires to a radio that was plugged into a socket. Those scissors had the biggest hole cut into them – I’m just lucky #3 son is still alive! Of course then I had to replace them and they are going on 28 years.
    LauraT

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    1. Holy Guacamole Laura! That was a close brush with disaster–trust an enterprising boy to try the weirdest things. Was it your Ginghers that suffered?

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  45. Congrats on your 2nd year! Love your blog, too. My favorite pair of scissors don’t have a name but I purchased them from Sharon Schamber’s website. They are sharp and the handles are bigger so they fit comfortably.

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  46. Fellow sewing sisters! Yes how exciting that our memories and faves “overlap”! I was gifted a pair of Wiss embroidery scissors from a dear family friend who was a traveling rep for the company! I still have em and they are still as sharp as ever. LOVE and protect my Ginghers! I have a home studio, teaching children of all ages (!) sewing and quilting basics. The “G” scissors only come out for those students who can handle and appreciate em ( this is always an “Ahhhhhh” moment!). I also work part time as a bridal seamstress, the curved blade cuticle scissors are heavily used, abused (sorry?!) and respected! Loved this scissor chat! As a sewing geek I enjoy the supply/notion banter!!

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  47. I’ve enjoyed your blog and all the various topics. Congratulations on 2 years! I love my Kai scissors and my Karen Kay Buckley applique scissors.

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  48. Recently getting into serious sewing (beyond home ec. and the occasional project for my kids when they were little) and in my sewing room nearly every day I just bought my first pare of Gingher. Oh my! what a difference.

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  49. My favorite pair scissors is my grandma’s sewing shears by G & S Welkut 602-8 1/2 Irvington NJ U S A( never looked on the side to see who made it. This is cool). Happy Anniversary! I wish you many more!!!

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  50. My modern quilt guild recently featured a program on our favorite scissors – Ginghers, KarenKay Buckleys, and even humble Fiskars. Yes, scissors lust is real! For me, my sewing machine-side companion is my 5 inch Gingher scissors.

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  51. Happy Anniversary! Yes, scissors are wonderful. The scissors that come to mind, that were used for every cutting need in our little house when I was growing up, were an old pair of black dressmaker scissors that hung from the first hook on the left side of the utility cupboard in the kitchen. Mom had a couple other pairs of scissors but none cut as good as those black ones, which were also used to cut paper dolls and their wardrobes from magazines!

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  52. Thanks for an awesome site. I really need new scissors right now. They all seem to need attention at the same time and usually I just purchase a new pair and they then are for paper, etc. My favorite pair are my Friskars softouch snips. I seem to use them for a lot for all of my small pieces and for cutting for applique.

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  53. I wear my KKB green 4″ scissors around my neck every day–they are my favorite accessory and scissors. Congratulations on the anniversary, and thanks for such fantastic blogging!

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  54. Hi! Funny this shows up – after a trip this weekend to a quilting store and I so wanted to buy a pair of new scissors – but my pragmatic minds said “No, you really don’t NEED them” – but I wanted them!! I didn’t get them. My favorite pair of scissors – my stork scissors. They are so – so – well –
    set apart from all of those regular shaped handles – They are very sharp and faithful to the teeny, tiny snips needed when hand embroidering – But, I do have a pair of child’s Fiskars that I have from when my daughter was young – with orange handles – and they are used when I fear snipping something by accident – with those safe rounded ends. (They are thirty-something years old).
    Thanks for the chance to win those SCISSORS!!

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  55. I have several scissors (why do they call them a pair of scissors???) that I use all the time, my fave being the ones with a spring to help my arthritic knuckles. I realized, however, that a good SHARP pair makes it so much easier on the hands.

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  56. I too love my scissors I have a special large scissors especially for fabricand then I have small sissors for embroidery and other small sissors for cutting thread at the sewing machine…I am really enjoying the blog.

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  57. Delightful topic! I too have the tiny manicure scissors, perfect for a traveling applique project, a wondrous pair of large Kai shears, and Gingher embroidery scissors as a memory of Mother. Another favorite for me are the small Karen Kay Buckley 4″ scissors with serrated edges, perfect for cutting applique shapes. And Happy Anniversary! I love your See How We Sew blog! It enriches my world!

    Like

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