Scissor Talk! A chat about embroidery scissors

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We all know how important it is to use the best tools we can, to get the best result. This covers our needles, threads, fabrics, and scissors.

Scissors seem to be something of a collectable for embroiderers! We seem to just love ‘having’ scissors. Some are pretty, some have a special meaning. And others are neither of these two things, they are just practical and do a good job!

I am no exception to this slightly odd characteristic, and have a number of scissors too. So today, I thought I’d go through my thoughts on three scissors I own – Sojou, Ernest Wright, and Kai.

What I look for in a pair of scissors

I used to not pay a great deal of attention to the real particulars of embroidery scissors. As long as they were sharp enough to cut the thread I was happy!

But since working with a slate frame and the hands-free elbesee frame, having a pair of scissors that can cut the thread neatly, and very close the fabric, is very important. This is because I am using the waste knot method of starting, and a couple of back stitches to finish, each thread. So I need to be sure there is no thread left on the top that hasn’t popped to the back after cutting it off. With the frame being so tight, it does ‘pop’ to the back. But you don’t want to leave too long a tail, otherwise it either won’t all pop to the back, or will get caught up in your stitching.

So lets have a look at these three brands of scissors!

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Sajou Scissors

These are scissors that I would pop in the ‘pretty’ category of scissors. Mine are the stunning, beautiful mother of pearl scissors. For me, I just love having them on my work table!

But, a pair of embroidery scissors needs to be more than just pretty. They need to do their job too! These scissors do a good job, however you aren’t going to be able to get nice and close to your work with them. Their tip is just not sharp enough. But, for general embroidery work, they do a lovely job.

Ernest Wright Embroidery Scissors

Ernest Wright scissors are still hand made here in England! Their curved embroidery scissors are some of my favourite scissors. I have two pairs – one for cutting out stumpwork elements, and another pair for cutting threads. They have a sharp tip, and because of the curved edge, you can get nice and close to your fabric.

I also have a pair of their 10cm embroidery scissors. They too have a very sharp point. The point isn’t as fine as others, which I do find makes it a little hard to cut close to the fabric.

I have purchased goods from their stall at the Knitting and Stitching Show, and have also purchased through their website. They are lovely in person, and the online experience was just as pleasant! I had my scissors very promptly delivered, and they were well packaged. If your scissors need sharpening, they did say at the show that they do offer that as a service, however I wasn’t able to find this information on their website at this time.

Kai Scissors

Another pair of ‘practical’ scissors. These have become one of my favourite pairs of scissors of late. For my silk shading piece, cutting the threads right on the fabric is critical. And these scissors allow you to do that. They have a very fine, sharp point, which allows you to get a lovely crisp cut.

The big downfall with these scissors is the difficulty in actually getting your hands on them! I’m not sure if it is just a shortfall in supply at this point in time, or if it is a common problem. The RSN Shop currently only has the curved edge scissors in stock (until close to Christmas). Amazon seems to occasionally have them in stock, however they aren’t always the cheapest option. I recently purchased mine from My Fabrics, which actually runs out of Germany. Despite this, even taking into account postage, it was still cheaper than Amazon!

I also recently purchased a pair of Prym scissors from ย Sew and Soย thinking they would be another brand to try out. I was a little surprised to find they are actually Kai scissors under a different brand. The ones I purchased are their professional, 10cm embroidery scissors. Again, they are wonderful and sharp, but for me, they are a little too large (just as the Ernest Wright ones are), for getting that very close cut to the fabric. They do however come in 9cm variety, which would probably be what I was after for my needs!

There are many more, very good brands of scissors out there!

This is a very brief look at only three brands of embroidery scissors out there. There are of course many more, very good quality scissors out there. And we will all have our favourite. Or maybe a few favourites depending on what we are stitching. My Sajou scissors are my favourite for non-slate frame projects where I don’t need to cut nice and close to the fabric. They are also my favourite when working with crewel wool fabric. Why? I don’t know! It’s habit most likely, and nothing more. And as I mentioned, Kai scissors are now my favourite pair of scissors when working on a slate frame, or when I need to get a nice clean cut close to the fabric.

And lets not forget the ‘specialist’ scissors

The scissors I’ve noted above are all ’embroidery’ scissors. But sometimes, we need something a little more specialist for our needs.

When cutting out stumpwork elements, you should keep the pair of scissor you use for that purpose just for that purpose. As you are also cutting fabric, the scissors will wear a little quicker. I also mentioned that I use a pair of curved scissors for this purpose. This is of course up to you, but I have learnt that it does help to get a closer and more accurate cut when using scissors with a curved blade.

Cutting stumpwork wire should also be used with a pair of scissors you have dedicated to this use. But an older pair that you might no longer use for cutting threads is more than sufficient for this purpose.

When completing gold or metallic work, you should again use a pair set aside for this purpose. I purchased my little pair from The Golden Hinde here in the UK, but I’m sure there are also many other stockists. The pair I purchased have a serrated edge, which (apparently) makes it easier to cut the gold and metal threads and wires.

I have never completed any whitework, so I’m sure someone can help out on this one, but I’m sure with all the delicate work and cutting involved more than a steady hand will be required!

And now over to you!

Do you have a scissor obsession too?

What are your favourite scissors?

28 Comments

  1. Maura

    I love scissors ! The first one is really pretty

    Reply
    • Catherine

      They are a bit addictive aren’t they?! The first ones are beautiful.

      Reply
  2. Debbie Cooper

    I am gaining quite a collection of scissors too! My favourites are the Ernest Wright scissors I have, not just embroidery scissors but my 8″ dressmaking shears. I’m patiently waiting for their Kutrite contemporary kitchen scissors. Their website has links to some videos. ‘The Putter’ is marvellous. They are quite pricey, but they are hand made by master craftsmen and last a lifetime.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      They are fantastic scissors aren’t they! I dint do enough dressmaking to warrant a pair of their dressmaking scissors, but I’m sure they are just as high in quality! Their website is great, thanks for the tip about their videos. And it’s always good to support businesses that still work in the traditional way.

      Reply
  3. Bella

    Very interesting that Prym and Kai are the same scissors with different branding…… I bet this happens with a lot of things.

    I have 2 pairs of embroidery scissors, they are basically the same – (I can’t remember the brand but they are about 5″ long with black handles) My older pair went really floppy and loose so I bought a new pair to replace them but I just can’t bear to throw my old pair away as they still work, so by default I now have 2 pairs in my kit! I do prefer using my newer stiffer pair though – the cut is more accurate with them, especially for waste knots.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Yes, I’m sure you are right about the disguise of branding!
      I always feel a good pair of scissors is a necessity- and it sounds like you may be going the way of the embroiderer! I never discard of scissors- they do come in handy every now and then!

      Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks for your encouragement!

      Reply
  4. Marlous

    Thank you, Catherine, for your review. I also have a pair of Sajou scissors which I received for my birthday last year. However, they are not fine enough but great for general work, and beautiful to look at! I mostly use my Prym Kai Scissors which are great. I need to get myself a pair of curved scissor for my stumpwork (Helen recommended a pair in her comments on my finished project). I’ll check out whether Ernest Wright has a stand at this year’s K&S! My goldwork scissors are serrated and Alison Cole’s. I can recommend them too.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      The Sajou scissors are just beautiful, but like you, I find they aren’t fine enough for a lot of what I do these days.
      Ernest Wright have been at the show for the last few years, so I imagine they will be again. They are worth the money in my opinion!
      Thanks for your recommendation on another pair of good quality goldwork scissors.

      Reply
  5. Margaret Creek

    I’ve got two pairs of Ernest Wright scissors, the 5″ ones above which I love and a dressmaking pair which I still feel I’m wearing in! I’ve decided you can’t have two many pairs of embroidery scissors, especially when I have lots of little project bags ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Ernest Wright are definitely popular! They are well made and good quality which is important. And I completely agree that you can’t have too many scissors! I too have at least one pair for each project bag.

      Reply
  6. Rachel

    I also have a pair of Ernest Wright – which I agree are wonderful. I’m considering buying a pair of special goldwork scissors, because I have recently had an idea of a wonderful, magnificently over-the-top goldwork Akhenaten, and I don’t want chewed purl!

    Reply
    • Catherine

      I can’t wait to see what you come up, it sounds amazing! I do think that having the special goldwork scissors is probably a good idea, although I’ve not done a lot of that technique to really know!

      Reply
  7. Kathy Reeves

    I have a pair of curved edge scissors from Pakistan that I picked up at Walmart ๐Ÿ˜ณ for cheap, but I love them! I also have another tiny pair that I throw in my tote and they are fine for cross stitch and hand sewing, but not great. My applique scissors are cute, and the serrated edge makes all the difference, but my favorites are my dress maker Ginghers, a high school graduation gift from my bff’s mom. They are the best!

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks for sharing Kathy! It’s surprising where you can pick things up! Ginger’s dressmaking scissors are brilliant aren’t they. I too have a pair, though they are rarely used!

      Reply
  8. Dima

    I keep insisting to my mom I don’t have a scissor obsession but looking at my box of scissors I might need to re-assess that statement. I have specialized scissors (one for goldwork and one for cutting applique with a pelican mouth), hardanger scissors, nicer hardanger scissors, pair of kai, a whole set of Ernest Wright scissors, fabric scissors. I even have scissors for display only and a pair I hate and don’t like using that I take when I travel. I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Maybe I should catalog them.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Love it Dima! I wouldn’t call it an obsession- more a necsssity!

      Reply
  9. wybrow1966

    I too was seduced by the prettiness of Sajou scissors, but found they blunted quickly and did not cut close enough to the fabric. I haven’t tried Ernest Wright – so will be looking at these closely now. I am currently using Janome curved embroidery scissors which I really like.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Yes, I think the Sajou scissors are better for general embroidery where you don’t need to cut close to the fabric.
      Thanks for the tip on the Janome scissors. I’ve seen them but haven’t ever tested them.

      Reply
  10. Claire

    I’ve got quite a few pairs of embroidery scissors – most pretty ^^
    I don’t actually collect them, but find it’s always useful to have several pairs because that way I leave them in different rooms (sewing room, living room, veranda) and always have a pair to hand.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      I’m a bit like you, and like to have a pair with each project I’ve got going, so I don’t have to think about what to pick up when I take the project somewhere. I’m not sure I collect scissors but I certainly have a desire to have more!

      Reply
  11. Teresa

    I agree with you about quality, and not just for embroidery. I hate when my kids use my sewing scissors to cut paper, ans the blades are dulled. A while ago I bought at the craft store a scissors sharpener, but I have never been able to get it to work properly.
    Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party this week. Pinned!

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Thanks Teresa, I think we have all been upset at the misuse of sewing scissors! I’ve never tried a scissor sharpener, though I do think one would be handy if it worked

      Reply
  12. Claire - Heart Handmade UK

    is the handle plastic on those Ernest guys? I’m always upset by inproper use of sewing scissors lol. I tied fabric scraps around mine and my husband knows to stay away from them. I also remember that I used to work in a shop and found a gigantic pair of sewing scissors that had been dropped…. so of course, I kept them :p they’re so big that I find them difficult to use. If the time comes to cut large pieces of fabric I will let you know it goes :p

    Reply
    • Catherine

      The Ernest Wright scissors are completely metallic. The Kai and Premax scissors do have a plastic cover for comfort on the handles.
      I love your way of distinguishing scissors! My hubby just asks for scissors to save himself ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Reply
  13. Katie/Celebrating With The Bug

    I have been thinking about getting a new pair of scissors! I only have a fairly small pair of sharp ones due to the fact that some unnamed family members used the others to make duct tape costumes! I love the fist pair for there beauty but suppose I should go with a bigger option.

    Reply
    • Catherine

      Oh dear! I hope at least those unnamed family members had fun.
      Yes, these options are quite specifically for hand embroidery, so if you wanted more dressmaking scissors they wouldn’t be appropriate. Having said that, both Ernest Wright and Kai have their scissors in different sizes which might be what you are looking for.

      Reply

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A review of three popular hand embroidery scissors

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