Do You Need Electric Scissors to Cut Fabric for Sewing?

Do You Need Electric Scissors to Cut Fabric for Sewing?


Do electric scissors work better to cut multiple layers of fabric, thick materials, or for hand pain? Compare them to traditional shears in this post.

Are Electric Scissors Worth it for Sewing? A Review

Hey y’all, today I’m going to share my opinions about electric scissors with you. I remember my mom had a pair of electric scissors that would come out to cut fabric when I was growing up. They had a very distinct smell when in use and I did not like the noise of them. When I was old enough to use them myself, I didn’t like them after I tried them. I remember having trouble with the blades getting tangled in the fabric and jamming, and I remember jagged cut edges instead of smooth ones.

Electric scissors cutting fleece fabric

But lately I’ve been curious about how/if electric scissors have improved. Are newer models good enough to be worth it? So I bought myself some cordless electric scissors to see what I thought. You can see my thoughts in the video below or on YouTube here.

Woman using electric scissors to cut our a sewing pattern

What Are Electric Scissors?

Electric scissors use battery power to automate the action of the blades opening and closing and do that at a faster speed than human hands can sustain. Models on the market for fabric are cordless and run on rechargeable lithium ion batteries.

Black and Decker cordless electric scissors reviewed

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. All affiliate links are identified with (affiliate link) after the link or a commissions earned statement above the link(s).

Best Cordless Power Scissors For Sewing?

There are many brands to choose from, many from companies I had never heard of. So when I went looking for a pair I ultimately decided to buy the Black & Decker model (affiliate link). I have owned a few Black & Decker power tools with mostly good results (though not all) so I felt more comfortable buying these than an unknown brand.

Please know that this post is a review specifically of the pair I purchased, and not meant to be an exhaustive rating of the best electric scissors out of trials of a bunch of them. But hey, if anyone wants to send me more sets of electric scissors to test in a trial like that, I’m open to the idea. I just don’t have the budget to do that on my own, plus I’m not sure what I’d do with the extras.

The pair I purchased came with two different types of blades as well as the charger cord. The O-blades are for fabric, paper, wrapping paper, and other lightweight materials. And the d blades are for tougher materials, like leather and cardboard.

Black & Decker Electric Shears in a box with included accessories

Compare Materials Cut By Cordless Scissors

In the video near the top of this post, I compared cutting silk charmeuse, quilting cotton, stretch cotton spandex, oilcloth (similar weight/feel to vinyl), velvet, fleece, and medium weight leather with the O blade. I switched to the D blade to cut very thick sole leather. You can in that video that these cut all of those materials. 

In my testing I was most concerned about the lightweight fabrics and the heavy-duty materials. I worried that the silk and similar would get stuck in the blades. And I wondered if the rechargeable battery would have enough power to get through the thick leather. 

I was impressed that they could even cut the sole leather, which my manual scissors can’t touch. And the silk was no problem either. Even 4 layers of fleece felt like butter with these scissors.

Electric shears to cutting thick pink fabric for sewing

Are Electric Scissors Worth It?

For me, the answer to if these scissors are worth it is yes. If I never use them for anything other than cutting leather, it’s worth it because before I had to get my jigsaw or a scroll saw and all the setup those require to cut sole leather. These are much higher on the convenience factor than those saws.

Are these worth it for average home sewers? I’m not sure. Unless you regularly cut multiples out of many layers of fleece or knits, I’m not sure that they’re better than regular dressmaking shears. They’re louder and require you to remember to recharge them. I will definitely reach for mine if I’m working with layers of fleece, but for other fabrics I’m not so sure. Maybe for when I cut out all the PJs for my kids and their cousins each year.

What about comfort, particularly if you have arthritis or other hand or wrist pain or mobility challenges? The jury is out on that for me. This particular pair requires you to continue to squeeze the handle to cut. For me that is more tiring than the intermittent squeezing I do with regular scissors. It’s possible that other models of electric scissors might have a button that doesn’t require continuous squeezing, but as I said above, this post is focused on this pair.





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Thread Cap Trick – Melly Sews

Thread Cap Trick – Melly Sews


Do you know this secret thread spool trick to keep your thread from unwinding?

A thread cap secret not everyone knows - the cap comes off on this type of spool

Hey y’all, today I’m sharing a simple sewing tip – a trick involving the thread cap of some spools of sewing thread. This quick sewing tip is specific to this type of spool. And if you have problems with your thread unwinding and getting tangled, this tip will help.

To see a super quick demonstration of this thread cap tip, watch the video below or on YouTube here.

So what is it? I learned when I wrote this post all about sewing thread that many people don’t know that the cap on this type of thread spool pulls off! This is useful both as a secret storage place for sewing needles and a way to control your thread.

Store needles with your thread using this tip

To keep your thread neat, push the top almost all the way in. Next, wrap the thread end around the core. Push the top into the spool to hold the thread securely.

Using a spool cap to keep your thread from unwinding

The type of spool shown below does not have a removable top. However, the top does pull up, and you can still use it to hold your thread and keep it from getting tangled. Pry the top up at the seam, then wrap thread around and pop the top back down into place.

Use this feature on your thread spool to hold the thread

For more sewing thread tips, tricks, and advice on choosing the right kind for your project, see this post.

Sewing Threads - Different types of machine sewing threads - learn about the kinds of thread to use for sewing





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Tool Tips – Sewing Storage Ideas

Tool Tips – Sewing Storage Ideas


sewing storage ideas

We’ve been looking at sewing tools recently and asking if you can get better sewing results, save time in the sewing room or just have more fun if you spend more money, or if the budget versions of your favorite tools are “good enough”.  

Covered so far:

Sewing Storage Ideas – Small Tools And Things

Today I’m looking at basic sewing room storage for your tools and equipment.  Do you like something custom designed for sewing, or do you keep everything in a big cardboard box and rummage about, or something in between?  Maybe you have a custom-designed sewing space with peg boards or dedicated sewing storage.  Is your storage also a decorative item, and are there practical reasons why spending more is going to get you better organized and save you time?

Why Have Organised Storage Anyway?

The biggest reasons I can think of to invest in good storage are really two-fold.  Save time by making things easier to find – we all need more sewing time so if it takes 10 minutes to find that zipper foot you know you have somewhere, well then that’s 10 minutes less sewing time.  The second reason is monetary.  If you can’t find something you might have to go and buy another one, and by proper storage, you can also prevent damage or rust too and keep your tools in tip-top condition.

Let’s Have A Look At Some Of My Sewing Storage

I live on a small island so I use what I can get locally to keep my sewing supplies in order.  You don’t need specialist storage solutions for your sewing room, but OK, let’s admit it, there is nothing nicer than seeing things all neatly set out and beautifully organized, and given the choice, we’d all go for perfection.

sewing storage ideas

Yep, this is NOT my sewing room, not even remotely like it I can assure you.  This is pretty darned nice to look at and practical too – check out some more pictures from I have to say… Let’s leave me sewing dreams and get back to the practical reality of my own sewing storage.

Bobbin And Tool Storage

I don’t actually have a lot of bobbins to organize simply because my local sewing shop only has a very limited stock of thread colors anyway. The ones I have are in this small box.  It’s designed specifically to be a bobbin box and it works OK. It’s perfectly adequate. This is what it looks like when it’s all neat and organized.

sewing storage ideas

But this is what it actually looks like most of the time  🙁  The bobbins are all loose and rolling about, the threads come undone and get tangled, and I fish about making it worse when I want to get something out.  I can do better!

sewing storage ideas

There are SO many ways to organize and store your bobbins, maybe I should write a fun article about that (coming soon).  I’ve treated myself and have something new on order just because I felt like a treat and this looked so pretty as well as interesting!  Again, it’s not here yet so I’ll write about it when I get a chance to try it out in real life later on.  This is the Nancy Zieman Stack and Store Bobbin Tower.

sewing storage ideas

This looks really funky and interesting and obviously, anything with Nancy’s name on it has to be worth considering. You can get one of these fancy bobbin storage towers at Amazon US   or   Amazon UK.

This is one place you really don’t need to spend a lot of money to store your bobbins, but it can be fun if you do!

Sewing Feet Storage

One of my “make do with what you can find” examples.  In this case, a weekly pill reminder case has little spaces which are perfect for storing my sewing presser feet!  Who would have thought it, but everything other than the automatic buttonhole foot will fit in here nicely.  You can even get 3 or 4 feet per section if you want to.

sewing storage ideas

The last section I keep for my needles so as I change from a Universal to a stretch needle or a twin needle, I swap them out in that end section.

sewing storage ideas

While we talk about sewing feet, let me give you a little sneak peek of something else I have on order and am very much looking forward to receiving.  All the presser feet I will ever need I should think, and some I will probably never need. There will be some duplicates with what I already have, but well worth it for the price I paid.  More on this great box when I get it.

sewing storage ideas

Rotary Cutter Storage – FAIL

My sewing room is almost right on the beach.  When I look outside my window I see the sea right there. Lovely, except with the humid and salty environment and the breeze coming right in the window off the sea here in Cayman, rusting is a real issue, and certain of my sewing tools are no exception.  I’ve tried all sorts of solutions for my rotary cutter from zip-loc bags to pelican cases and everything in between.

sewing storage ideas

This is how I currently store my rotary cutter – in this plastic case filled with silica gel sachets from the camera shop that are supposed to absorb moisture.  Basically, it’s not working. This is how the blade looks within 2 weeks of opening it, even if I’ve only used it once.  It no longer cuts anything, so I have to consider my rotary blades as almost single-use!

sewing storage ideas

As soon as I’ve finished using it, it goes back in the pink case with the silica gel and gets put in my sewing toolbox with the lid closed.  More on that next.

Storing Other Sewing Tools

My sewing toolbox is just that – a toolbox from the DIY Store.  It’s not pretty, nor designed for sewing items but it works for me.  Room in the top for clips, walking foot, seam ripper, lip balm, etc.

sewing storage ideas

Then there is a removable tray on the inside for other seam rippers, yes I have too many (see the previous article), small scissors, tape measures, seam gauge, needle threaders, marking tools and pens, etc. I admit, I tidied it a bit before taking the picture.

sewing storage ideas

In the bottom layer are the bulkier tools such as scissors, rag quilting snips, pins, more seam rippers, small bottles, pins, needles, and other stuff.  I admit I tidied this too.

sewing storage ideas

I also try to keep rusting here to a minimum too.

Combating Rust As Best I Can

See that little blue pot in the bottom right-hand corner?  That’s my homemade humidity remover. I use a product called Damp Rid. I buy the refill packs of the basic granules and have made a small humidity collector out of a couple of plastic ramekins.

sewing storage ideas

The top has holes in it so that the granules inside can ‘suck’  the moisture out of the air inside the toolbox and into the granules inside.  Then that inner container has holes in the bottom and the moisture collects and drains down into the outer / lower plastic container where I can pour it away.

sewing storage ideas

Over time, the granules dissolve as they collect all that moisture from the air.  I empty this about once a week and change out the granules infrequently, I’d say about every 3 months.  So it’s easy to use, economical and it does keep the rust away from all of my other sewing tools – works well.  Shame about the rotary cutter!

Storing Sewing Thread

Let’s take a look at my embarrassing ‘ thread storage system’.  Yep, it’s a plastic tray from the dollar store that I keep in a drawer.  Again, my local store doesn’t have a lot of thread color choices anyway so I only have a few reels to store.  It looks a bit sad though.

sewing storage ideas

There are far more attractive thread storage and organization gadgets and racks out there.  Check out some of these examples.

Thread racks
  1. Art Bin Super Satchel Box with Removable Thread Trays
  2. Traditional wooden thread rack in a multitude of sizes
  3. ingenius idea that holds all of your threads at the machine, and you just leave them there and thread the one you want to use.  SewTech 20 Spool Thread Stand
  4. Wire Black Spool Thread Holder Rack Victorian Heart Top
  5. Sewing machine spool rack

Other Bits And Pieces

We often collect up lots of other small tools, bits, and pieces that need to be kept tidy and organized.  I use one of these small desktop 3-drawer units for all the small things.  They stack too and you can buy them in sets of 4 if you have a lot of ‘stuff’ to organize.

sewing storage ideas

In here you’ll find all of my needles, more than likely more blunt seam rippers, small rolls of elastic, knit stay tape, bias tape makers, Frixion marking pens,  my thermal thimbles for pressing (I swear by these), dental floss for gathering, and usually a few bits of bag hardware such as magnetic snaps or rectangle rings.

sewing storage ideas

I also have a thing for buttons it seems, but just for collecting and sorting them instead of actually ever using them.  Check out my nice bright button collection – I can’t think that I have ever used a single one of them – except for on my Spring applique pillow cover which I do adore.  Shame on me for being so wasteful.  They do look nice though.  If anyone has any ideas for how to use them, please let me know!

sewing storage ideas

So I think that’s everything.  All the little bits and pieces are carefully stored away and organized into their own little spaces.  You’ve had just a little peek into my sewing space.  It’s by no means a dream sewing space, and it’s usually messy so I don’t think I’ll be revealing any sewing room pictures any day soon.

I have dreams though of the perfect sewing space one day.  I’m collecting inspiration and ideas on my Sewing Spaces Pinterest Board.  Check it out below and prepare to drool and be green with envy.  How amazing to have room/spaces/custom furniture etc like some of these…

Follow Deby at So Sew Easy’s board Sewing spaces on Pinterest.

Fancy splurging on some fun additions to your sewing room?  Here are some ideas for you from my own wishlist:

Wayfair

One day my dream sewing room will come…

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Essential Sewing Tools for Beginners

Essential Sewing Tools for Beginners


Essential Sewing Tools For Beginners

It was clear from my recent sewing survey that although there are a lot of experienced sewists that visit this site – many of you are new to sewing, just starting out, looking to improve, or even don’t sew yet but want to learn.  So here is my list of essential sewing tools and my good-to-have favorites that might be helpful to those starting out.

Essential Sewing Tools. My list of favorite tools in my sewing kit and recommendation for those beginning to sew, from So Sew Easy.

My essential sewing tools

1 – Fabric Scissors – never use your good fabric shears for anything other than fabric, interfacing, etc.  Warn your children they will be grounded, your husband that he will be divorced, and write on the blades with a permanent marker.  Having good fabric scissors is essential.  You might be cutting through several layers of fabric at once and still have a nice smooth cut.

2 – Seam Ripper – sounds worse and more violent than it is.  A tool with a sharp point, a blunt point, and a sharp blade in the middle.  Can be used to carefully unpick stitches when you’ve gone wrong, and cut the stitches in a seam using the center blade.  Plus its a useful pointy tool that can also be used for a lot of things that are nothing to do with sewing.  Not just for mistakes – use it to remove basting stitches too. I also use mine to hold fabric in place as it goes under the presser foot so I don’t get my fingers too close to the needle.

3 – Zipper foot, invisible and adjustable. I tried to get a good result with a regular presser foot but that is never going to happen.  To make nice neat zippers you need to use the correct tool – either an adjustable zipper foot or the invisible zipper foot.  Best to get both because there will certainly be times when one is better than the other depending on the application.

Sewing a zipper required the correct tools to get a good finish. Image courtesy of Keerati / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sewing a zipper requires the correct tools to get a good finish.
Image courtesy of Keerati / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4 – Tape measure– for taking your own body measurements, measuring fabric, measuring pattern pieces at the bust, waist, etc.  Mine always seems to be missing and I find the cat has dragged it under the bed again and attacked it thinking it is a snake.  Better get two.

5 – Large clear ruler – commonly used by quilters but lots of regular sewing applications too.  I use this every day for marking out for cutting the purses I sell in my Etsy shop, and it sits at the front of my sewing machine for quick measurements as I sew.  Useful for extending grain lines on patterns and any time you need to measure and still see what’s underneath your ruler.

6 – Pattern making paper, Double Tracing Wheel, and Saral Transfer (Tracing) Paper.  My pattern tracing and fabric marking kit.  Used to trace and copy patterns and to transfer pattern markings onto fabric.  You can read more about the easy way to trace patterns using these tools.  I also use the wheel and transfer paper to transfer patterns and markings, darts, etc directly to the fabric without having to cut out the pattern at all!

How to trace off Burda pattern, vintage patterns and multi-size patterns the EASY way - by So Sew Easy.

7 – Sewing Machine.  Well, you could sew everything by hand, but you will get a better and quicker result with a sewing machine.  I am on my second machine, the first one was borrowed and I looked at a lot of machines before settling on the Brother CP-7500 (now discontinued – best alternative is the Brother CS6000i). I’ve been extremely happy with it, it does everything I need quietly and smoothly and has lots of features I’ve not even used yet, but it’s good to know they are there for when I need them.  Such as buttonholes and decorative stitches.  The best things about it – the built-in needle threader, the 3 different overcasting stitches, the walking foot, and the 3 different speed settings.

8 – Overcasting foot.  I use this on almost everything I make.  I don’t have a serger, so I use the 3 different overcasting stitches on my machine with this overcasting foot to give a nice neat finish on my seams, and also to sew and finish my knit projects with a neat narrow, and stretchy hem.  Highly recommended if you want to sew with knits.

Easy summer dress - free pattern and step by step tutorial from So Sew Easy.
Get a great finish on knit fabrics using an overcasting foot. Stitch and finish in one pass.

9 – Fray Check .  One bottle may well last you a lifetime if you keep the top on tightly.  Magic in a bottle to stop fabric from fraying.  I use it when cutting ribbon, and when cutting through fabric for any reason such as to add a magnetic snap to a purse, or sewing a buttonhole.  Also good to add a dab when you sew buttons to stop the thread from unraveling.  Can be used to stop fabric fraying as you work with it before edges are finished.

10 – Clover Wonder Clips.  Like magic pins.  Regular pins have their place, but I often use the clips instead.  Work well when you have lots of layers to secure together, and they don’t leave any holes or marks in your fabric.  And there is no chance that you will sew over one of these by mistake and break your machine needle.  They seem a little expensive compared to pins, but I think they are well worth the investment (why not hint that you would like these for your birthday!)

Clover Wonder Clips

11 – The right machine needles.  It never really occurred to me when I was starting out that there might be more than one type of machine needle.  But in fact, they come in different sizes, different points, different sized eyes, for different fabrics such as denim and leather, and more.  Of course, keep a supply of the multi-purpose needles but also consider adding in a twin needle and some ballpoint needles for sewing with knits.  A lot of the problems that occur when sewing knit fabrics can be eliminated simply by using the correct needle.

You might find this article about which sewing machine needle useful and interesting.

12 – Disappearing marking pen.  Again – an essential I use every day.  It’s nice and easy to use, leaves an easy to see mark and then fades over time or can simply wash out.  I have noticed that fabrics all behave differently and sometimes this can be fading within 30 minutes.  I’ve never had a problem that has left any kind of mark after use.  Mark out your darts for precision sewing, mark sewing lines, notches, and more.

So have I included all of your favorites, or are there some essential sewing tools you use regularly and can’t do without?


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5 Top Tips for Using Pinking Shears

5 Top Tips for Using Pinking Shears


using pinking shears

For people who are very fond of creating garments, pinking shears are a great tool to include in your sewing kit. While they may not be the most basic ones needed for starters, it is definitely a must-have for those who have already acquired more advanced skills and have completed some sewing projects.

We’ve listed here the 5 top tips for using your pinking shears:

using pinking shears

1. Be cautious in choosing the perfect pair of pinking shears.

Make sure that you get pinking shears that are of the best quality. You can check its quality through its ball joints and if they have handles that are not hard to grip on. Their sizes are about eight to nine inches long. Once you choose quality pinking shears, you can be guaranteed of their durability.

using pinking shears

2. Use pinking shears to finish the raw edges of your sewn fabric.

The most convenient and time-saving way to finally smoothen the rough edges when trying to complete a sewing task is to use pinking shears. This is very helpful, especially if there is no serger available. Pinking shears have ‘teeth’ in a triangular shape, which produces a zigzag cut to your fabric. Not only to prevent fraying in fabrics, but they also work well to cut the curves for they have the same effect as clipping the seam allowance to make it lie flat. 

3. The proper way to cut fabric with pinking shears is to make sure that they are being held straight.

Cutting any fabric with your pinking shears in this manner will produce your desired output. Once you have made your initial cut, you can try to make a small entry through the shears and make sure that the teeth are straightened precisely along when you do the final notch then slowly put back the pair of blades again. Maintain this manner of cutting to achieve a neat finished edge. Do not forget to have the seam stitched before cutting the edges so you can have enough extra seam that gives you a cleaner result.

using pinking shears

4. Be patient enough to cut one layer at a time to achieve a more precise and clean edge on your fabric.

You may try to put a weighted object on top of the fabric while cutting to make it more stable.

5. Never use your pinking shears on other types of materials aside from fabric, as it will cause the blades to turn dull.

We don’t recommend storing your pinking shears with other items made of metal in one container as it loses its sharpness. But in the case when they eventually become dull, it would help a lot if you bring them to a professional who can sharpen their blades.

Here’s some more information on how to care for your sewing scissors and about whether you can cut paper with your sewing scissors.

If you have other ways on how to best use your pinking shears, we would be glad to hear from you!

If you’re looking for a new pair of pinking shears, here are a couple of good options from Amazon.com.


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School Supplies for Sewing – Melly Sews

School Supplies for Sewing – Melly Sews


Stock up on these supplies while they’re on sale to use them in your sewing room!

School supplies to use for sewing

 It’s that time of year again – the school supplies are on sale, and the former teacher in me can’t help but pick up a few more things than what is on my kids’ school supply lists. BUT I have a good excuse! One of the things I learned from years teaching sewing at a high school is that regular school supplies are often great sewing supplies too.

Shop the school supply aisle for great deals on sewing notions - Melly Sews

I made a video of my top 5 most used school supplies for sewing, which you can watch below or on YouTube here. Not only do I show the supplies, I share how I use them!

How I Use School Supplies for Sewing

Here’s a list of a lot of the school supplies I use.

  • Washable markers and Frixion pens
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Erasers
  • Hole punches and ring binders
  • Washable Glue Sticks
  • Binder clips
  • Compass
  • Protractor, rulers

First – washable markers. These work pretty well to mark fabric and wash out. And in a pinch, hand them over to a kid and buy yourself some time to finish a project.

Washable markers to mark fabric - school supplies for sewing

Mechanical pencils. I go through these like crazy for drafting, list making, tracing patterns…

Mechanical pencils - school supplies for sewing

Hole punch and binder rings – these are great for hanging pattern storage. You can also use them to organize swatches to take to the fabric store so they don’t get crumpled and lost in the bottom of your purse.

Erasers, binder rings and hole punch - school supplies for sewing

Erasers. Besides using the for drafting, you can carve them into stamps for fabric printing.

Glue Sticks. For gluing PDF patterns. Or temporarily holding fabric together. If you get the washable kind, you can even sew with it in place instead of pinning. Though I wouldn’t do that with expensive fabric.

Glue sticks and binder clips - school supplies for sewing

Binder clips. Also good for hanging pattern storage.  And holding leather or vinyl together, or any other fabric that can’t be pinned.

Compass. Useful for adding seam allowances. And making circles.

Compass and protractor - supplies for sewing

You can use a protractor to draft curves. I looked for (but couldn’t find) a clear plastic ruler – these are useful in all kinds of ways in drafting, as are flexible bending rulers.

And finally – posterboard. This works great instead of tagboard for slopers, and also works nicely as a photo backdrop for blog tutorial photos. Sometimes propped up against your laptop to act as a standing backdrop, too.

Posterboard photo backdrop - school supplies for sewing

So there you have it – a whole bunch of school supplies for sewing – now go stock up! For more ideas to use household items as sewing notions, check out this post.

Buy school supplies -save on sewing notions! - Melly Sews





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