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Toolbox Tips

Issue 1: Dressmaking Scissors

Welcome to our new series, Toolbox Tips, where we aim to highlight useful tools and handy gadgets to cosplayers starting out on their crafting journey. Ranging from incredibly cheap & basic to more advanced, we hope to cover a wide range of tools and tips. Please note that some product links contained within these articles are affiliate links, read more about this here.



Starting with the utter basics here - a good pair of multi purpose scissors will go a long way, but the more you work with fabric it's quite likely you'll want to invest in a decent pair of dressmaking scissors, or shears as they're often known.

Generally a little bit larger than household scissors, these enable you to do longer and smoother cuts to avoid jagged edges when you're cutting out pattern pieces. They are often slightly angled which make it easier to cut fabric on a flat surface without raising or disturbing it too much, this can be handy for delicate fabrics that move and warp a lot.

If you're left handed, be warned! A lot of scissors have ergonomically moulded handles which can be super uncomfortable in the wrong hand - so look out for left handed, universal or neutral style handles.

A well known brand to look out for is Fiskars, who have been making scissors for generations, often recognisable with their bright orange handles. The choice between metal or plastic handles is purely personal preference, with plastic often being lighter and generally more comfortable for prolonged use.


Keep them sharp!

If when you're cutting fabric with your scissors it folds in between the blades instead of making a clean cut, that's a good sign they're dull. That doesn't mean you need to throw them away, just get yourself a decent sharpener. There are many different types of sharpeners for blades, but we definitely recommend looking for sharpeners that are specifically designed for scissors - they are safer to use and intended for the way the blades sit.

Once you have a good pair of dress making scissors, it's important to try and keep them only for fabric - you want to keep them as sharp as possible! Cutting materials such as paper, plastic and foam can blunt blades super quickly, and while you can sharpen your scissors this does eventually shorten the life of them, so you want to keep this to a minimum. So keep a pair of generic cheaper scissors aside to cut other materials, and warn your family or housemates!


Cleaning

If by accident, your fancy dressmaking scissors do get borrowed and perhaps covered in paint or glue, don't despair - they're pretty easy to clean up. Most dirt will wipe off with a damp cloth, but for glue or sticky residue you want to use either rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or even nail varnish remover. Pour some onto a cloth or kitchen towel and gently wipe down the blades, being careful at the edges, until all the residue is gone. You want to avoid dunking them fully in water or getting them too wet, as this can cause rust - if they do get wet, make sure they are completely dry before you put them away, taking care to check where the blades cross.



Tips for buying

  • Look for a well known brand such as Fiskars or Gingher. A good pair (treated well) will last a lifetime
  • If you're left handed, look for specific left handed, or universal grip scissors
  • A soft / cushioned grip can ease strain on your hand if you're doing a lot of cutting



Average Cost

For an average pair of dressmaking scissors, you'll be looking around the £15-£20 mark, with the higher quality ones creeping towards £30. You can get cheaper models, but keep in mind cheaper scissors may not sharpen as well, shortening their lifespan. Thinner or very light scissors may also not be able to cut through thick fabrics, so you're looking for a decent chunky model.



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