Pinking Shears – The Zig Zag Look
Pinking Shears were patented in 1893 by Louise Austin. Actually they were called Pinking Scissors. Pinking involves cutting decorative openings in the body of fabric or cutting a decorative edge for squares and blocks for quilting.
Pinking shears create a sawtooth or zigzag pattern. Woven fabrics with a straight cut along the grain with normal scissors often fray, resulting in seams ripping out and that stringy look. Not to get too technical, but pinking shears cut fabric on what is referred to as “the bias”. Basically at a 45 degree angle to warp and weft (woof) threads. To illustrate this, the warp threads are the horizontal threads and the weft/woof threads are the vertical or filler threads.
Cutting the fabric on “the bias”, as pinking shears do, reduces the potential for fraying. Wow, I bet you didn’t realize you would become an expert in pinking shears.
Pinking Shears – The Real Beginning
In 1931, Samuel Briskman, of Brooklyn, invented what today are known as pinking shears and submitted 3 patents for them in 1931 & 1932 and he received patient approval in 1934. After that, he formed the Pinking Shears Corporation, which milled the teeth into the blades. The J. Wiss & Sons Company, who was founded in 1848 by Jacob Wiss, had exclusive rights to sell the new pinking shears in the US.
The 1931 & 1932 patents included what would be known as the J. Wiss & Sons Pinking Shears model A and Model C.
The Model A 1934 shears pictured in this article is Approx. 10.5″ long overall. It has large and comfortable handles. Cutting blades are replaceable by simply removing 3 screws.
The Model 3 is slightly shorter in length measuring approximately 9″. While both scissors were made starting in the mid to late 30’s, the Model A tends to be harder to find. Finding these for under $20 is a great deal.
There are a vast array of pinking shears on the market today, but by far my favorites are the older J Wiss & Sons Pinking Shears Model A. They have that quality and charm that has lasted throughout the years.