What are appliqué scissors?
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If you are new to machine embroidery and perhaps on the cusp of trying your first appliqué project on your embroidery machine… STOP. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200. Before you do any appliqué project, you should be sure to have a pair of appliqué scissors on hand. But, what are appliqué scissors, you may wonder?
Appliqué scissors are medium-size scissors with a weird duckbill on one blade. They are specifically designed to trim appliqué fabric after you have stitched it down, and before sewing over the raw edges of the appliqué fabric with a final satin stitch. The unique design of the these scissors allows you to trim very close to the stitching line without cutting a hole in your base fabric.
If you are doubting me that a lousy pair of scissors will make a difference in the outcome of your project, stop reading this now and go try to trim your appliqué fabric with a regular pair of scissors.
So… you’re back. It sucked, right? This is why you need them if you are doing to do appliqué on your embroidery machine. Fortunately they are cheap and readily available. For a minimal investment in a pair of appliqué scissors, your appliqué project will look soooo much more polished. And your trimming will be a lot easier.
How to use appliqué scissors
The proper way to use appliqué scissors is to insert the duckbill side of the blade between the fabric you want to cut and the fabric underneath that will remain uncut. This enables you to cut the appliqué fabric close to the placement stitching without inadvertently cutting the fabric underneath. The duckbill will be underneath the pointed blade with the duckbill between the appliqué fabric and the background fabric and the pointed blade on top of the appliqué fabric.
How do cheap ones compare to their more expensive counterparts?
I own two pairs of appliqué scissors and the difference between the cheap ones and the more expensive ones is pretty obvious. My cheap appliqué scissors cost less than $15 and my nicer ones are Ginghers which cost about $25.
Just by looking at the two different pairs you can see a lot of differences. The Ginghers are heavier, and are held together with a more heavy duty screw. The Ginghers also have a sharper blade which you can clearly see in the picture.
The cheap appliqué scissors are not as sharp as the Ginghers. This can be a good thing, however. I find that because my Ginghers are so sharp, I can unintentionally cut holes in my base fabric. The dull appliqué scissors require a bit more effort to make a cut and therefore are less likely to make unintentional holes in my project. I also seem to be able to get into tighter corners with the cheaper pair.
The downside to the cheap appliqué scissors is that they can start to hurt your hands after a lot of use. This is because cutting with the cheapies requires a bit more hand strength.
How to make trimming appliqué easier
Trimming the appliqué fabric can be a whole lot easier if you take certain measures when preparing the appliqué fabric. If you fuse some HeatnBond Lite onto the back of the appliqué fabric, it makes trimming the appliqué fabric much easier. In addition, the HeatnBond Lite prevents the appliqué fabric from fraying.
In addition, if you gently pull the appliqué fabric up and away from the placement stitching as you trim the fabric, you can get a closer cut to the placement stitching line.
Are there left handed appliqué scissors?
Yes! Just because you’re a lefty there’s no reason for you to suffer. Make sure to get a pair specifically designed for lefties.
Other unique scissors for appliqué trimming perfection
Appliqué scissors are awesome and definitely (in my opinion) one of the top 10 tools you should invest in when you are getting started with machine embroidery. However, in some instances the fabric you need to trim is hard to get to with the standard duckbill scissors and you need to supplement your trimming job out to another specialized pair.
- Small scissors with serrated blades can be helpful when grasping onto fraying fabric.
- A pair of curved blade scissors can be super useful for trimming around curved areas.
- A tiny pair of nippers such as the Snip-Eze from Hazel can help you trim appliqué fabric in tiny spaces.
- A double curve pair of scissors is super versatile. The unique angle plus the curve of the scissors can come in handy when you have to do some awkward trimming.
How to avoid trimming appliqué altogether
One technique favored by many machine embroidery enthusiasts is pre-cutting the appliqué fabric. This can be done on a Cricut or any type of die cutting machine. The only caveat is that the placement of your appliqué fabric must be spot on so that the final satin stitching covers the raw edge of your appliqué. I personally don’t do this but I know people swear by this technique. But, it might just be the perfect excuse to buy yourself a Cricut!