Monday, December 12, 2011

0n the fourth day of Christmas... true love gave to me
four pairs of pinking shears...

They aren't glamorous and its even hard to photograph them to look exciting.   Does anyone even use pinking shears today?   In my house, family members will take them from the sewing room and use them when they can't find a regular pair of scissors.  For those of you who love your scissors, I know you can find comfort in my anxiety that one day they might take my good pair of Gingher shears to violate their sharp accurate blades on coupon clipping or present wrapping. 

Today I'm not sure if households even have a pair of pinking shears.  The serrated wheel on the rotary cutter or a serger have doomed their existence.   Pinking sheers were indispensable when I was learning to sew.  If your sewing machine didn't have a zig-zag function your pattern pieces were usually "pinked" to help tame the edges from raveling away the seam allowance.   To me their blades seemed to dull quickly making cutting out patterns difficult resulting in your hands getting blisters from the handles.  Of course the blades may have dulled quickly because they found their way to cutting paper.
Pinking shears have only been on the market for the last hundred years as they were first invented and patented in 1893 by Louise Austin, of Whatcom, Washington.   However, I have observed on historical clothing from the 19th century an embellishment created with an edge that was "pinked".  I observed this mainly on black mourning dresses which were void of extravagant embellishments.

One inch strips of the black dress fabric (taffeta or silk) would have both raw edges pinked.  These pinked strips would then have a running stitch down the center.  The running stitch would be pulled   gathering the fabric strip which would then be applied to the bodice front or whereever some design interest was needed.  It was a very effective way to adding some interest without purchasing additional lace.  

Well, here's to you pinking shears before you fade from use and Webster's dictionary.



  1. you were always strict to keep away from your scissors......

  2. You listened, its the guy with the mustache that didn't! BTW, I do have a new pair of pinking shears if you would like them!

  3. I've managed to accumulate more pairs of pinking shears than I need (they seem to be a staple of those big sewing box lots) - my favorites are an old pair that have scallops instead of zig-zags.

  4. Barbara, have you ever considered doing a Christmas tree in those pinking shears and other vintage sewing supplies?