Mother in Law’s Pinking Shears

Do people use them any more? Pinking shears probably used to be an item in many a sewing box. I recall that my mother had a pair, but my mother in law’s survive. For yes, my wife is almost as much of a hoarder as me.

The box exists too, but isn’t in tip top condition.


And here are the scissors with their pretty green handles.


This pair of pinking shears is very chunky, but about the size of normal household scissors. You might see that the blades have a ridge and furrow cutting edge. In use it produces a cut like this.


The question is, ‘why?’

It seems they were used to make this zigzag cut along the edge of seams that always exist when two bits of fabric are sown together. If the little bit of spare material was left straight then a bit of fraying could travel the whole length of the seam. The pinked edge didn’t have this problem since only a tiny length could fray. As a mere bloke, I always felt the shorter lengths were more likely to fray away but maybe I just don’t understand.

I wonder how many pairs of these strange scissors are still in use. They can certainly still be bought new. I would guess this pair dates from the early 1950s


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7 Responses to “Mother in Law’s Pinking Shears”

  1. Pete Says:

    I certainly remember using them at Lavington School…

    • locksands Says:

      Thanks Pete.

      Probably more than 20 years ago!

      • Pete Says:

        I feel very old now… Strange how 20 years ago seems like yesterday yet it’s almost half way back to the 60s, which seem prehistoric to me

      • locksands Says:

        To me you are young. I, of course, remember the 60s as if they were yesterday. Twenty years ago is the mere blinking of an eye!

  2. currentdescendent Says:

    I sure grew up using them!

    • locksands Says:

      I daresay I’m not in much contact with regular tailors these days although my wife made a new ironing board cover only yesterday. Pinking shears were not used.

  3. Genealogy Lady Says:

    The purpose of pinking shears is to edge the fabric inside seems. By making the 45 degree angles, it prevented the fabric from fraying. Now we have sergers or interlocking machines that will edge the fabric for us in most of our clothing. However, you may find that finer clothes may use this technique, especially if the piece of clothing is lined. Pinking makes the fabric less bulky and sometimes serging will prevent fabrics from stretching to their potential on the bias. I still have a couple pairs and I do use them for this purpose when I sew.

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