Chain-Pieced Traditions — Stork Scissors

The stork is a very traditional design for snips. If that seems incredibly random (why not an otter? Or an Irish setter?), maybe it’ll help to know that the decorative design originated with midwife’s scissors hundreds of years ago. (Stork—ah, right! Delivering babies…) They were shaped differently back then—with the beak slightly off-set and tips blunted—and were used for clamping the umbilical cord. Over time, the design became more popular in the sewing room than the delivery room.

Traditionally these scissors are small—3½” to 5″—and have a very sharp tip. They are generally marketed as embroidery scissors, but many quilters, including myself, use them as general snips. They are perfect for keeping at your sewing machine to cut apart chain-pieced patches, trim dog ears, or rip out tiny stitches when you can’t find your seam ripper (which is always).

stork scissorsMy pair has become quite worn with use (click the image at left for a larger view), and yet I still consider them the prettiest notion in my sewing room.

I bought my stork scissors—long before I even started quilting—because my mother had a pair. As a child, I was fascinated by them. Mom bought hers in Germany when we were stationed overseas (we’re a military family). They would never get lost because we all knew and recognized them, and would bring them right back to her if we found them. Her pair of snips even had a name: SEE-Soar—sort of combining “scissors” with “Caesar.”

I’m fairly certain my mother bought her pair, because grandma had a pair just like them.

It’s like a chain-pieced tradition, from one generation to the next.

~Vanessa Lyman
Content Director, Fons & Porter

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