Have you ever looked at your cutting tools and wondered how to sharpen pinking shears?
Those jagged teeth make the task a little more complicated vs. sharpening a pair of scissors, whose blades can be sharpened like knives.
Look sharp, sewing pals. Let’s chat about:
- Why pinking shears have a place in your sewing kit
- How to know when pinking shears are dull
- Methods for sharpening pinking shears, including four DIY methods
- How to care for pinking shears, including one unexpected tip (!)
- Who makes the best pinking shears around
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Why You Should Have Pinking Shears in Your Sewing Kit
Pinking shears, hands down, are the fastest way to finish the raw edge of fabric. No fray, no way.
You don’t need thread. You don’t need a needle. You don’t need a sewing machine or serger.
You don’t need any skill to open and close scissors.
Fabric + Shears = You’re done.
I know there are some sewists who say that pinked-edge garments look homemade rather than handmade.
To them, I say:
🏆 First, the finished edges are on the inside, so who cares?
🏆 Second, pinked seam allowances are a less bulky finish vs. other options such as stitches or bindings.
What’s more, the pinked edge, with its zig-zag shape, won’t show up on the right side of a garment when the seam is pressed.
🏆 Third, I promise you can go to a thrift store right now and find a vintage handmade garment with pinked edges.
The existence of vintage attire demonstrates that pinked edges are effective; they help clothes last.
🏆 Finally, I love discovering a garment that was finished with pinking shears. It makes me feel connected to the sewist who stitched it.
It makes me wonder, “How did this end up here?”
I have a strong compulsion to take these clothes home, because I want to respect the craft that went into their creation.
As you can see, there’s a lot of love about pinking shears.
How to Tell When Pinking Shears Need to Sharpening
Pinking shears, like any well-loved tool, accumulate wear and tear from regular use.
A sharp pair of pinking shears should cut cleanly and all the way to the tip. The teeth should pass each other smoothly, too.
When they stop doing this, it’s time to get them sharpened.
How to Sharpen Pinking Shears
There are two ways you can go to bring pinking shears back to life: do it yourself or turn them over to an expert.
4 At-Home Methods
The following at-home methods for sharpening pinking shears are controversial.
There are experts who say at-home methods won’t sharpen your scissors correctly and may even damage them.
I leave it up to you to decide whether to try these for yourself. They’re your shears, and some people out there on the internet believe these how-to’s work great.
In no particular order…
1.) Aluminum Foil
Fold aluminum foil a few times and make long cuts with your scissors, as demonstrated in this short vid.
I haven’t tried this for pinking shears, but I did smooth out a burr on my regular fabric shears by cutting aluminum foil.
Take long cuts through extra-fine sandpaper, per this ehow article.
I have a feeling that the finer the sandpaper, the better.
3.) Knife Sharpening Steel
I found this video that showed how to use a sharpening steel — aka, the steel rod in a knife block — to sharpen pinking shears.
Open and close the pinking shears while running the sharpening steel through the scissors.
I also found a video where a screwdriver was used the same way as a sharpening steel.
4.) Manual Diamond Sharpener
I stumbled across this video from DMT (Diamond Machining Technology) where a small file-like tool is used to sharpen pinking shears.
The shears blade is held parallel to the table, and the mini-honing tool is stroked across the cutting edge using light, even pressure.
If you don’t want to sharpen pinking shears at home, you can turn them over to a pro for TLC.
Obvs try googling for scissors/shears sharpening in your area. Places that sharpen knives and lawnmower blades, in my experience, may also sharpen pinking shears.
Call a (local) sewing machine repair store or fabric store and ask for suggestions, or perhaps try a dry cleaner, tailor, bridal gown specialist, or theater costumer.
(If they’re sewing or making alterations, they probably have pinking shears around and have a similar need.)
Also, many sharpening service providers also sharpen shears and blades for hair stylists, so maybe hit up your own stylist for ideas.
You also can send away pinking shears for sharpening. While researching this article, I found Simply Sharper, which charges $8 per shears, and A.O. Sharpening Service, which charges $7 per shears.
I only scratched the surface of mail-order sharpening, but it seems to me that it’s not exceptionally expensive.
Maintenance for Pinking Shears
There are a few things to know to keep your pinking shears in tip-top condition.
The American Sewing Guild recommends sewists:
- Oil the hinge occasionally to keep their operation smooth, and wipe away excess oil before using.
- Keep oil off the blades, because oil could get on fabric when cutting.
- Dust lint from the shears to keep their cuts sharp.
✂️ One commenter in a PatternReview.com forum suggested “cleaning the blades with rubbing alcohol. Sometimes a coating builds up, and getting rid of it ‘sharpens’ the blades.”
This video from A.O. Sharpening Service advises cutting through wax paper to keep the teeth lightly lubricated.
Apparently this tip works like a charm. Video commenter @sonyaLparks said:
“I’m beyond grateful for this tip with the wax paper. I have 24 items to cut out and my pinking shears were so hard to open and are newer and not heavily used. I did this and it made an amazing difference instantly. THANK YOU”
Who Makes the Best Pinking Shears?
It’s always a gag to talk about who makes the best such-and-such when diving deep on sewing supplies.
The following pinking shears brands make exceptional scissors that will last a lifetime. Check out the best pinking shears money can buy.
Gingher pinking shears have alway struck me as the platonic idea of pinking shears — so solid looking and shiny. ALSO: You can send your shears to Gingher for sharpening!
Go to PatternReview.com and ask about sewists’ favorite scissors, and you’ll hear a loud chorus of “KAI!” These pinking shears feature a lightweight comfort handle. (I have regular Kai shears, and I loooove them.)
Kretzer has been making shears in Germany since 1923. The company’s iconic Finny model has been made since 1969, and its 8-inch Finny pinking shears are graded as “professional cutters for any materials.”
LDH’s all-black Midnight Edition pinking shears might be the sexiest scissors you ever lay your eyes on. They have a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty, and you can mail LDH scissors back to the company for sharpening.
If you’re feeling EXTRA extra, why not treat yourself (or strongly suggest that someone treat you) to a pair of pinking shears from William Whiteley, which has been in business in the U.K. since 1760 (and received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria 👑). I say get a pair with a bespoke engraving and live out your Saville Row fantasy.
Crescent Wiss 8-inch pinking shears are made of high carbon steel and trace their heritage back to 1847, when a Swiss immigrant started a forge in New Jersey for surgical instruments and scissors. The heavy-duty 8-inch pinking shears have four-and-a-half star rating on Amazon.
Final Thoughts About Pinking Shears
If you’ve never bothered to add pinking shears to your sewing kit, what are you waiting for?
They’re the simplest tool to use to keep raw edges from fraying, and if you invest in a quality pair, you can consider them an heirloom (seriously).
When it comes to how to sharpen pinking shears, you have a few options. You’ll almost assuredly be satisfied with professional sharpening.
But, if you’re in a pinch, there are some home-grown methods that probably will get you through a-OK.
Over to you, sewing friends: Do you have pinking shears? What brand? Have you ever sharpened them? Which DIY looks most appealing to you — or would you NEVER try to sharpen your shears at home? Please leave a comment. Thanks for reading.