We asked Calgary quilter and blogger Cheryl Arkison if she could share her love of the these fabulous Japanese Shears we brought in for the customers who drop by looking for superior Japanese tools for their craft! If your looking for something in particular, let us know!
It is well known among the people who live with quilters and sewers that our scissors are protected and precious commodities. Use them on paper and we might divorce you! At least, according to endless memes and jokes. All jokes aside, our scissors are such a fundamental tool in the sewing kit. Rotary cutters are amazing, but we all know not a thing can happen without scissors.
And good scissors can be life changing. At least when it comes to your craft.
Strong and sharp and feels good in your hand. Those are the basic requirements for a pair of scissors. I am a quilter, working with fabric constantly means my scissors need to feel like an extension of my hand. Too heavy and it can be tiring. Dull and the frustration mounts. Squeeky and you will go insane.
A few years back Kevin here brought back a pair of Japanese tailor’s scissors for me. I asked him for the favour on a whim. I was getting frustrated with the industry standard – they needed sharpening more than I liked and always felt a bit awkward in my hand – rough, stiff, and boring. Kevin obliged and my sewing changed immediately.
With good scissors you can cut and trim by hand. The connection to the material – in my case, cottons and linens – is immediate. It sounds strange, but you can feel the fabric through your scissors. The connection I feel through this Japanese steel is not cold, but vibrant, alive.
Recently, I decided to go back to my roots – of quilting, that is – and make a quilt without the use of the modern rotary cutter. Quilting has existed for centuries and the rotary cutter only for the last few decades. As I work improvisationally most of the time it meant my scissors really did need to be an extension of my hand. Cut, sew, repeat. It’s one thing to snip threads at the end of the seam, quite another to have the making so intrinsically tied to the cutting. It slows you down. It makes the process as important at the product. It makes the tool as much a part of the product as the fabric.
Like any tool, you want your scissors to be functional. Sharp, obviously. Feel good in your hand, definitely. Smooth cuts, always the goal. I get all of this.
Whatever you do, though, don’t cut the paper with these scissors.
Back when I started quilting it was practically unheard of for a 23 year old to do so, but there I was. Now, 20 years later I haven’t stopped. In addition to my own creative work, mostly in improvisational piecing, I love to teach, write books and articles, spread the gospel of improv, and design quilts. Every now and then I make a garment, my Grade 8 Home Ec Teacher would be proud.