Left to right: 2 embroidery scissors, button hole cutter, two trimmers,
snips, sharpening tool, 2 dressmaker shears

Dressmaker shears, pinking shears, clippers, snipers, trimmers, embroidery scissors, button hole trimmers, paper scissors, electric scissors, thread nippers, applique scissors, just to name a few, and all of these are for sewing and fabric tasks. There are scissors for yard work, kitchen work, hair cuts, surgery, wire work, garden work and other tasks you can think up. There are also rotary cutters used for fabric but today we will talk about scissors.

When you sew you will need to own several types of scissors. For your fabric you need a good pair of dressmaker shears, snipers to clip threads and seams and maybe a good pair of pinking shears. I have to admit that I have never purchased a pair of pinking shears though because I find them very hard to use. Buy the best quality scissors you can afford they will last a long time if you take care of them. As you can see not all of my scissors are expensive, for example, I have five pair of Fiscars in my house and I sharpen them myself from time to time with the sharpening tool pictured above. I would not even attempt to sharpen the expensive sets, but if I had to rebuy a pair of Fiscars it would not break the bank.  

The best way to take care of your scissors is to keep them in a safe storage area when not in use, use your scissors for the intended task, and have them professionally sharpened when needed. By proper task, I mean don't cut hair with your sewing scissors, like you would not use hair trimmer scissors to cut fabric. If you have someone who thinks it is OK to use your scissors for other tasks then it is worth the cost of having a pair of what they need on hand. I always keep a pair of paper cutting scissors handy so no one will be tempted to use the dressmaker shears on a school project. I also have a pair of hair trimming scissors so no one decides it might be OK to cut bangs with my sewing trimmers.

As you can see by the photo above there are several shapes of sewing scissors.  Embroidery scissors have a small cutting blade and the blades curve to make it easier to trim threads without making a snip in the work you just completed. Not shown here, there are also duckbill scissors which help trim fabric for applique embroidery. The wide bill on one side protects the fabric where you attach the applique. Pictured below are a pair of trimmers and dressmaker sheers, notice how the trimmers have the blades centered and the handles out on either side while the dressmaker shears have the handle bent up to one side. The bent angle of the dressmaker shears make it easier to cut fabric by having your blades parallel to the cutting surface.  

Trimmers on top, dressmaker shears on bottom
My favorite pair of scissors are the button hole cutting scissors. These are designed to cut button holes by going over the outer edge to start the cut at the beginning of the button hole and stopping before you cut through the other side. If you have ever messed up a button hole by over cutting into the garment you know what a valuable little tool this specialty pair of scissors can be. The screw on the top adjusts so that you only cut intended length of the button hole.

Button hole cutting scissors
From the Online Etymology Dictonary:

cut (v.) 
late 13c., possibly Scandinavian, from North Germanic *kut- (cf. Swedish dialectal kuta "to cut," kuta "knife," Old Norse kuti "knife"), or from Old Frenchcouteau "knife." Replaced Old English ceorfan (see carve (v.)), sniþan, and scieran (see shear). Meaning "to be absent without excuse" is British university slang from 1794. To cut a pack of cards is from 1590s. Related: Cutting.
cut (n.) 
1520s, "gash, incision," from cut (v.); meaning "piece cut off" is from 1590s; sense of "a wounding sarcasm" is from 1560s.
scissors (n.) 
late 14c., sisoures, from Old French cisoires (plural) "shears," from Vulgar Latin *cisoria (plural) "cutting instrument," from *cisus (in compounds such as Latin excisus, past participle of excidere "to cut out"), ultimately from Latin caedere "to cut" (see -cide). Spelling with sc- is 16c., from influence of Medieval Latin scissor "tailor," in classical Latin "carver, cutter," from past participle stem of scindere "to split."

Usually with pair of (attested from c.1400) when indication of just one is required, but a singular form without the -s was occasionally used (mid-15c.,cysowre). In Scotland, shears answers for all sizes; but in England generally that word is used only for those too large to be worked by one hand. Sense in wrestling is from 1904. Oh scissors! was a 19c. exclamation of impatience or disgust.
ciseaux (n.) 
1892 in dance, French (plural), literally "scissors" (see scissors).
scissor (v.) 
1610s, “to cut with scissors; 1960s with reference to leg motions (in the wrestling sense it is attested from 1968); see scissors.
snippers (n.) 
"scissors," 1590s, plural agent noun from snip (v.).
shears (n.) 
"large scissors," Old English sceara (plural), from Proto-Germanic *skær-; see shear. In 17c., also "a device for raising the masts of ships" (1620s).
piranha (n.) 
also pirana, 1869, from Portuguese piranha, from Tupi (Brazil) pira nya, variant of pira'ya, literally "scissors."


Bobbin Holders

Bobbins! I remember when I first started to sew how much trouble it was to keep them from becoming a tangled mess. I am pretty sure most of them were tossed in a box with the thread and the hope that I would have an empty one available when I needed it. When I was a novice I would even wind new thread over another color thread on a bobbin to save time. This is not a good plan and can even mess up your sewing machine. 

Along the way, I have explored most options available for keeping bobbins organized. First there were the little clear plastic boxes with the half circle molded plastic tray that held the bobbins in place. It was not bad solution, except that the little plastic tabs that held the lid closed would break. Without a way to keep the lid secure I would be back to having a tangled mess of thread when the little box spilled. The largest boxes only held about 16 bobbins.  

Then there were the plastic cups that clipped onto the spools of thread. I kind of liked these because I would purchase and cut several garments at the same time. For each garment I would cut the fabric, then place the cut pieces, pattern and instructions, notions, including the buttons or zippers, thread and bobbins all into a plastic zip seal bag for safe keeping. Everything stayed together from start to finish. This worked well for a bobbin holder as long as all of your spools of thread were the same size as the little clip on plastic cup. See the first spool of thread in the photo below. You needed at least one clip on top for every spool of thread though so it didn't work so well for the inactive spools and bobbins.  
Spools of thread and bobbin holders 

Same spools of thread and bobbin holders viewed from above

There was another bobbin holder that connected to the spindle opening, see the second red spool above. It had the same problem as the first spool option. It did not fit all spools and you need one for each spool and bobbin.  

My newest sewing machine came with another type of bobbin holder. These are little clips that fit together. If you have enough of them you can make a circle and snap them together. You can also add rows, creating a tower for your bobbins. It is a pretty good system because the bobbins clip in and come out easily. For this to work well you need a lot of little pieces to snap together. It is also not my favorite.

I don't even know who makes it, but my favorite bobbin organization tool is a little rubbery plastic circle you can slip your bobbins into. It secures the bobbins, keeping everything together in one place. If you drop it the bobbins stay secure. I does not spill them even if you hold it upside down. Each circle will hold about 26 bobbins. I like this method because I use one for empty bobbins, or bobbins that are about to be empty again; one for my metal bobbins that fit my recently restored antique Singer and two that hold most of the colors I might work with in any given moment. I arrange colors in families, light to dark and it makes it very easy to find any bobbin color quickly. I really like that it keeps a lot of bobbins handy and in a smaller space.

I think it is worth having the extra bobbins because I use these smaller amounts of thread for several things. If I need to do any mending I can grab just the bobbins. There are probably two bobbins in colors close enough to what I may need to sew so that I do not have to hunt down a full spool or purchase a new one to do quick repairs. I also find it easier to work with bobbins for the top and bobbin thread when I sew quilt tops. I can quickly change the thread color for two different quilt pieces then move them back and forth if needed. This takes up less space. 

My Favorite Bobbin Holders 
I also use my bobbins, especially colors I may not need again to sew muslins. The contrast color makes sewing a boring muslin a little bit more interesting in addition to making the seams very visible. Where I need to make an alteration I can switch to another color so changes stand out and remind me of the things I changed when I start on the fashion fabric.  

From Online Etymology Dictionary

 bobbin (n.) 
1520s, from French bobine, small instrument used in sewing or tapestry-making, perhaps from Latin balbus (see babble (v.)) for the stuttering, stammering noise it made.
bobbinet (n.) 
1819, from bobbin + net (n.).
tulle (n.) 
fine silk bobbin-net, c.1818, from Tulle, town in central France, where the fabric was first manufactured.



Muslin. What is it? Why do you use it?

Muslin test garment

Muslin is a plain cotton fabric easily available in a natural unbleached color, kind of an ecru or a bleached white version. Sometimes I have seen dyed black muslin. Muslin comes in several widths from 36 inches all the way up to 90 inches. The easiest to find width is between 42 and 45 inches. 

Muslin also comes in several qualities, from inexpensive $0.99 per yard to about  $7.00 or $8.00 per yard. I like to keep several grades around to use when I need to create a muslin version of something, either to practice a technique or even a full complete copy of a pattern to check all of the details of a fit before I commit to a more expensive fashion fabric. It is best purchased by the whole bolt. The price is even better if you have a large discount coupon.

Inexpensive muslin is a wonderful fabric to use when you need to make a test garment for checking fit and style compatibility. Sometimes a pattern looks adorable, but is incompatible with your shape or personality. With all the time it takes to create a finished garment, it is worth the low cost of muslin to be sure the finished product will be something you will want to wear. In this case the muslin I create will probably not be a completed item, it will just be the basics, enough for me to see if it is really as expected for me. If I still like it, then I use the muslin to mark fit adjustments, any alterations or pattern changes. I will also be using the least expensive muslin I have on hand.  

Marked sewing line on a muslin test
If I am going to take the time to complete every detail I will use a higher quality muslin that is bleached white. If everything is as expected the muslin can be dyed and worn as a regular garment. Sometimes I do this if I am checking something for a teen. They will enjoy dying the muslin copy and have both garments. This works especially well if you want to know how a garment will wear. Send them out in the dyed copy for a test wear.

Sometimes I only need to check the fit on a portion of the garment. Most recently it was a dress bodice and how it fit at the waist. I needed the full bodice portion and enough of the skirt to sew to the bodice. The dress skirt is quite long, but I made the bodice and a long peplum. It served the purpose and I saved time.
Adjustment stitched in red
When is a muslin not a muslin? Sometimes I purchase clearance sale fabrics. It is not the plain uninteresting color of muslin but is still inexpensive fabric. Other times I may pull fabric from my stash to use as muslin. This is usually a piece of fabric that has been in the stash so long I don't remember purchasing it, know I will never have a real use for it and probably don't even like it any more. It will also be less expensive than the planned fashion fabric and maybe even less expensive than a high quality muslin fabric.

Once fit has been tested then your test garment can qualify for your "tried and true" approval. That is when you know that the garment fits perfectly, looks great and you love to wear it. The pattern can become a go to choice for future garments and you will not have to spend the extra time testing fit again.

Muslin on rolled on bolt
From Online Etymology Dictionary:

bodice (n.) Look up bodice at Dictionary.com
1560s, oddly spelled plural of body, name of a tight-fitting Elizabethan garment covering the torso; plural because the body came in two parts which fastened in the middle.

fit (n.1) Look up fit at Dictionary.com
1823, "the fitting of one thing to another," later (1831) "the way something fits." Originally "an adversary of equal power" (mid-13c.), obscure, possibly from Old English fitt "a conflict, a struggle" (see fit (n.2)).
fit (v.) Look up fit at Dictionary.com
"be suitable," probably from early 15c.; "to be the right shape," 1580s, from fit (adj.). Related: FittedfittingFitted sheets is attested from 1963.
fit (adj.) Look up fit at Dictionary.com
"suited to the circumstances, proper," mid-15c., of unknown origin, perhaps from Middle English noun fit "an adversary of equal power" (mid-13c.), which is perhaps connected to fit (n.1). Related: FitterfittestSurvival of the fittest (1867) coined by H. Spencer.

muslin (n.) 
c.1600, "delicately woven cotton fabric," from French mousseline (17c.), from Italian mussolina, from Mussolo, Italian name of Mosul, city in northern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) where muslin was made. Like many fabric names, it has changed meaning over the years, in this case from luxurious to commonplace. In 13c. French, mosulin meant "cloth of silk and gold." The meaning "everyday cotton fabric for shirts, bedding, etc." is first attested 1872 in American English.
skirt (n.) Look up skirt at Dictionary.com
c.1300, "lower part of a woman's dress," from Old Norse skyrta "shirt," see shirt. Sense development from "shirt" to "skirt" is possibly related to the long shirts of peasant garb (cf. Low German cognate Schört, in some dialects "woman's gown"). Sense of "border, edge" (in outskirts, etc.) first recorded late 15c., and the verb meaning "to pass along the edge" is from 1620s. Metonymic use for "women collectively" is from 1550s; slang sense of "young woman" is from 1906; skirt-chaser first attested 1942.


How to make a CD holder for your car visor

Most cars probably have a way to plug in your MP3 players or may even accept SD Cards or a USB Thumb Drive but if your car does not, here is an easy way to make a CD carrier for your car visor to keep favorite CDs handy.

Supplies and Prep

1.  Measure your visor.  In this example, the visor is 14.5" by 6".

2. Gather your fabric and tools.  I used three color coordinated fabrics.  You can use scraps or your local fabric store will have coordinated fabrics. I used less than a 3rd of a yard of each of the fabrics. - you will also a measuring tool, tape measure or plastic ruler, one pack of extra wide double fold bias tape. This is available in colors to coordinate with your fabric. 12-15 inches of one inch wide elastic.  Thread, scissors, iron, sewing machine.

3. Cut one coordinated fabric piece 14.5" by 6".  This is the back cover.

4. Cut a thicker fabric the same size, I used a scrap of trigger; you could use denim or canvas.  It can be any color, it is just to give more support to the CD carrier. 

5. Cut one more fabric the same size.  I used crinoline but I was looking for buckram, the same fabric you might use in the bill of a hat.  I purchased a quarter yard and have extra if I want to make another CD carrier.

6.  Cut your coordinated fabrics in 10x6 inch rectangles, (I used 11x6 rectangles and they are just a little big).  Fold in half so they are now 5" by 6" and press.  I made 10 of these pressing one flat and folding 9. (Mine were also 5.5 by 6")

1. Place the 14.5x6" coordinated fabric right side down and cover the wrong side with the buckram, then the canvas or trigger fabric.  Smooth 
2. Lay the unfolded 10x6 inch rectangle on the top, aligning with the right side and smooth the fabric.

3. Measure down one inch from the right edge and place one of the folded and pressed pocket pieces.  Make sure the folded and pressed edge is the side one inch from the right edge and the raw edges face the left side of the 14.5x6" stack.  Pin to secure placement then sew about a quarter inch up from the raw edge.

4. Measure down one inch from the top of the first pocket and place the second pocket over the first.  Again, be sure the pressed edge is on the right side and one inch down from the first pocket top.  Pin to secure placement and sew the raw edge about one quarter inch up from the raw edge.

5. Continue placing the pockets with the folded edge on the right side, securing the placement and sewing the raw edge to the 14.5x6" pieces.  I had room for 9 pockets, but if you make the pockets slightly smaller, ten or more may fit nicely. 

6. Once all of the pockets are placed, cut two one inch pieces of elastic long enough to support the cd holder on the visor.  I cut my elastic about 6.5", this is just slightly longer than the CD carrier was wide.  The width of your visor may make a difference.  Pin these in place.

7. Baste (sew using a large stitch length) the sides and top through all thickness.

8. Sew the extra wide, double fold bias tape around the outer edge, securing all raw edges and the elastic.

9. Place on visor with your favorite cds.

 from Online Etymology Dictionary:

 CD Look up CD at Dictionary.com

1979 as an abbreviation of compact disc as a system of information storage.