Five Cutting Tools Every Sewist Should Own
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I often take for granted that my love for sewing is due, in large part, to my mom’s enthusiasm for the hobby. She’s been sewing most of her life, and her hobby has ranged from sewing doll clothes, to tailored garments, and now to art quilting. She’s a walking sewing encyclopedia and she's often the first place I start my research for any given blog topic.
Having such a fantastic resource means that from the outset of my hobby I’ve been pretty well equipped in my sewing room. And one thing my mom doesn’t mess around with? Her cutting tools. So this post is 100% inspired and informed by her. Here's list of the five cutting tools every sewist should own, garment sewist or otherwise. Because a good pair of scissors will change your life. No joke.
Maybe the most important tool in any sewing room are fabric shears. And the sharper, the better. If you’re cutting fine fabrics like crepe or chiffon, you’ll need a razor sharp pair of fabric (or dressmaker's) shears. As soon as I started cutting out several garments per week, I decided to invest in a pair of Gingher Dressmaker’s Shears
. They’re hefty, which I find gives me more control when cutting around tight corners.
I also have two pairs of Fiskars gifted by my mom that work great for fabric. The Dressmaker Shears
(orange handles) are sharp and fit great inside my small hands. The Razor Edged Shears
(grey handles) are crazy sharp. I can slide them along the length of most fabric and it cuts the fabric like butter.
One recommendation I have is to dedicate one pair of shears to cutting only fabric, and a different pair to interfacing. Interfacing will dull your blades faster. And I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but never, ever use your fabric shears for cutting paper.
I never thought I needed a pair of pinking shears until my mom helped me cut out some polyester crepe fabric I thrifted a few years ago. I was making one of my first garments and I wasn’t planning on using a serger. She explained that the pinking shears would prevent the fabric from fraying and, I’ll admit, I sort of half believed her. How could a little zig zag cut affect how much a fabric frays?
It does. I still wear that garment often. I wash and dry it on normal cycles. And to this day, there isn’t one bit of fraying from the pinked seams of that garment. The zig-zag cut of the fabric, means that the fabric is cut on the bias (because every up and down snip is diagonal). And fabric cut on the bias doesn’t fray. Crazy, right?
Please tell me I’m not the only person who didn’t own a pair of thread snips until a few years into my sewing hobby. I figured cutting my threads with my fabric shears was no big deal. And it really isn’t, except that it’s so much easier cutting threads with tiny scissors. This is a perfect example of that age old saying, pick the right tool for the job.
Since then, I’ve acquired about a million pairs of thread snips. One pair sits on my ironing board, the other next to my sewing machine. They see way more action than my fabric shears. Thin, little scissor blades just fit easier into tight places than a big pair of shears. They can cut threads all the way to the fabric where dressmaker shears can’t. And they’re often inexpensive. So do yourself a favor and get yourself a pair or two.
If you want to go all out, invest in a pair of Gingher Thread Nippers
. The large flat surface of both blades means you can cut all the way to the fabric without snipping holes in your garment.
Rotary Cutter and Mat
Having a quilting mom means I she taught me how to use a rotary cutter from an early age. Rotary cutters make cutting straight lines a total breeze. And when your rotary blades are extra sharp, the cut is much cleaner than you could ever achieve with a pair of scissors. I have two basic Olfa rotary cutters
, a small and large one for various projects.
My small rotary cutter is reserved for interfacing only, while the large one is used for fabrics. I always keep a set of extra blades on hand and I change them out often. There’s nothing more frustrating than cutting with a dull rotary blade.
Of course, with a rotary cutter, you’ll need a mat to cut on. I have a large Fiskars 24" by 36" cutting mat
that has worked great for most projects. But one day, I’d like to have a custom mat cut for the top of my cutting table that extends all the way to the ends of the table. Yes, one day.
Some sewists go rogue and use their rotary cutters with no ruler to guide the cut. That has never worked well for me. I recommend having a straight ruler to guide your blade as you cut your fabric to avoid wonky cuts and possibly ruined fabric.
I have two Omnigrip Quilters Rulers
that work great for straight lines. Plus, The markings on the ruler are super helpful for measuring hems and making bag straps.
If you’re a brand new sewist, there’s no need to run out and by best version of each of these tools. Instead, I recommend phasing them in as your budget allows and the need arises. Are there other cutting tools that you love to use? Leave a comment and let us know which cutting tools make your life easier.
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