Pinking Shears


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


Long before I could sew, I used to enjoy watching my mom as she worked at her sewing machine.  She was an excellent seamstress.  She had many tools unique to her craft, but there was one thing that always made me curious.

Pinking shears.  Scissors with teeth that left a saw-toothed edge on the fabric.

Why were they called pinking shears?   When I asked, she laughed and said she really didn’t know.

So, of course, I looked it up. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

The cut produced by pinking shears may have given its name to (or been derived from) the plant named pink, a flowering plant in the genus Dianthus (commonly called a carnation). The color pink may have been named after these flowers, although the origins of the name are not definitively known. As the carnation has scalloped, or “pinked”, edges to its petals, pinking shears can be thought to produce an edge similar to the flower.

The word “pink” can be used as a verb dating back to 1300 meaning “pierce, stab, make holes in”.

And here is a pink dianthus:

So, there you have it.  I love words.  There is so often an interesting story behind a word; a story that brings the word to life and makes sense to something that otherwise made no sense at all.


10 thoughts on “Pinking Shears

  1. Your post reminded me of Home-Ec class in junior high, lo those many moons ago. I made a light blue denim skirt. Then I went to pink the edges of a seam, and I pinked a hole in the skirt. What to do? Apparently I no longer had any fabric left to fix it. My best friend, also in that class, was making a denim skirt too, so I borrowed a scrap of her fabric to patch it. Unfortunately her denim was a slightly different shade and made the patch obvious. I don’t recall if I ever wore the skirt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love words, hate pinking shears. I’d so much rather use a nice french seam than have raggedy edges on anything I sew. We were required to use the horrible things in high school home economics class. I had been sewing for at least five years prior to the class and always used a french know, I am sure, it is a seam folded over and stitched a second time..think blue jeans seams. The teacher had a conniption fit over my seams, made me pick them out and pink the edges. After she finally graded the clothing, I took it apart again and french seamed it all…and gave it away as I could no longer stand looking at it. I ended up with a D in that class.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post dates you, Granonine, and all of us who know what you’re talking about. By now pinking shears have dong the way of the dinosaur, I think 🙂

    I had a pair, too, once upon a time; they worked for cotton fabric, to keep the seam edges from fraying out. When nylon and other lightweight synthetic fabrics came in, pinking shears couldn’t do much to prevent the edges from fraying, so you needed to use French seams, like seamstresses had always done for silk.

    Then, since synthetics were here to stay and French seams were a pain, someone invented sergers and someone else made a machine small enough for home use. For the past 20 years every sews-at-home female I know owns a serger as well as a sewing machine. I finally broke down and bought one about six years ago.

    I think my pinking shears are still kicking around somewhere. My grands can donate them to a museum. You should see the fancy machine they have now for creating edges and such! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a serger. I’m just not doing that much sewing these days–have only so much energy. I never got really comfortable with my serger, though. One of these days, maybe. But you’re right–I don’t think many people use pinking shears any more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s