How to Use Pinking Shears

Pinking shears are a fantastic tool to add to your sewing kit. They are not something you will need right away, but once you get all the basics stocked and are ready to add on some of the extras, pinking shears should be at the top of the list. (Especially if you are making garments.) You can also get a pinking blade for your rotary cutter!


Quick Tips for Using Pinking Shears

When you don’t want to hem or bind a seam allowance, but you are worried about fraying, pinking shears come to the rescue. Once you have finished sewing your seam, iron open the seams and then use your pinking shears on just the very edge of the seam allowance.

If you are using a less stable fabric that frays very easily, it can help to sew a straight seam just inside the pinking cuts (but still in the seam allowance). This will just help guarantee that there is no fraying.

If you are cutting a lot of pieces for a project that are going to be handled a lot before sewing (think charm packs), you can also use your pinking blade or shears.


Do you have any favorite tips or tricks for using pinking shears? Leave us a comment below or share with us on Facebook!

Related video: How to Hold Scissors to Reduce Hand Fatigue

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23 Responses to “How to Use Pinking Shears”
  1. W Whitlock
    W Whitlock

    Although they come in handy … I find that my cotton fabric still frays. Especially when I use them to trim my fabric before washing it … Not as much as if I didn’t use them though. I really like them on fleece for certain projects … maybe a little crazy check would help too 😀

  2. Janice

    Is there any way you can sharpen pinking shears? I love the pair I have and they have ‘worn in’ well. However, there will come a time, I know when they will need sharpening and I can’t see how it could be done. Any tips or will I have to fork out for a new pair?

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hi Janice,

      As far as I know there isn’t a product out there that easily sharpens pinking shears (like there is with scissors). There are people who say that cutting aluminum foil will sharpen them, however having tried it, I didn’t find that it worked that well. There are local sewing and quilting shops that do sharpening, as well as ones where you mail in your shears. Here’s just an example of one:

      Hope this helps!

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      • Linda Veltre
        Linda Veltre

        Actually aluminum foil is not very good for sharpening scissors. My uncle, who is a wood worker, advised to cut through fine grain sand paper with your scissors — this puts a fine edge on them and it can be done over and over again without damaging them.

        • janice

          I have tried both methods and neither was successful. Thanks for the reply though.

      • janice

        Many thanks. I too also tried the aliminium foil without success. Also tried sandpaper but then saw that this can also damage the cutting edge. I will ask at a local retailers as they advertise sharpening or lawn mowers and garden implements. Worth a try!

        • Cheryl

          If you have an Ace Hardware store, they can sharpen for you or will send them out. I took my mom’s 50 year old steel pinking sheers to have them sharpened and it was less than $10. Sharpest scissors in my sewing arsenal!

      • monda holleger
        monda holleger

        after watching a video the other day – they stressed keeping your shears clean…using sewing machine oil, wiping and cutting to clean…. haven’t tried but i have a pair of pinking shears that are prob 50 years old and want to keep them as they are well made!

    • Judi Johnstone
      Judi Johnstone

      I have the pair I got in highschool which is a very long time ago. We learned to use them yo cut steelwool to keep them clean and sharp

  3. Bama

    I want to order some pinking shears. Mainly to use on fabric to keep it from unraveling. I’m not sure which mm teeth, space between the teeth, to get.

  4. Michel

    Ever since I got pinking shears, I’ve had trouble. I seem to be able to only cut with the first 5 or 6 teeth, not the whole shear, like regular scissors. Is there a trick to this that I don’t know about? I have my moms, some I bought at estate sales and some I bought, all brand names, and all are sharp because I don’t know how to use them:( Help!!!! 🙂

  5. Ginette Woods
    Ginette Woods

    I’ve always wondered if pinking shears (for fabrics) exist in different cuts, as they do for paper : wavy, scallop shape etc. The paper ones do not cut fabric at all. Does anyone have the answer ?

    • Linda K
      Linda K

      Yes, there are different kinds of pinking shears. Choose small zigzag teeth if you’re using them with doll clothes and other small crafts/projects. The scalloped shears are really nice on wool felt but these shears are more costly than the zigzag kind. The craft scissors with different blade edges are NOT for fabric or felt – that’s the kind for paper only.

      • Ginette Woods
        Ginette Woods

        Thank you Linda for your answer. Now the big question : where can I find such shears ? I have never come across them in any shop on the web. Is it allowed to name a site in this discussion ? I’m sure it would be a help to a lot of people.

  6. Frances Riley
    Frances Riley

    I bought new pinking shears and have only used them for a couple of months but now I need to use 2 hands to make them open and close. This is my second pair and the same thing has happened. There is no problem with the sharpness. I just cut once and need 2 hands to pull them apart so I can make the second cut and again for the next cut. I tried the oiling but it didn’t help. Not efficient or straight.

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      Hey Frances,

      That sounds like a bit of trouble. We’d definitely love to help and forward this issue to our experts! The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can message us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

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