S is for Scissors, Seam, Seam Allowance, Seam Ripper, Seamstress, Selvage, Serger, Sewing Machine, Smocking, Snaps, Spool & Stash


Do you have any idea how many different types of scissors there are for sewing and quilting?  It is outrageous.  I hate to admit that I own over 100 pairs of scissors. For years my kids and husband would use my good scissors for just about anything they wanted to cut.  So my good sewing scissors were destroyed.

I now have several scissors that are for kitchen cutting, paper cutting, and fabric cutting.  Finally, they have gotten the message never, never use my fabric scissors.  Of course, they are adults now so I must admit they were slow learners.  🙂

There are scissors used for dressmaking.  They are usually long-bladed scissors with a very sharp edge.  There are scissors used for appliquê which have a flat curved edge on one of the blades.  There are scissors used for hand embroidery which are small sharply pointed scissors.  Scissors for machine embroidery have a bend between the handle and blades so that you can cut close to the fabric.  These scissors can also be used when using a long arm quilting machine.

There are big scissors, little scissors, folding scissors, stork scissors, snips, which have a small pointed triangle like cutter that is used to cut threads when sewing.  The variety is unbelievable.

A Seam is where the fabric is joined.  The Seam Allowance is the amount of fabric that is included in the seam.  Usually when quilting the seam allowance is 1/4 inch whereas in clothing construction it is 5/8 inch.  If proper seam allowance is not used, the seam will not hold.

Seam Rippers are one of the best inventions ever made.  They are used to unsew.  Everyone who sews has more than a few of them. seamrippers They come in all sizes and colors.  Here are a few examples.

The end of the ripper has a blunt end opposite the sharp longer edge to keep the fabric from being ripped as you cut through the stitches in the seam.

A seamstress is a woman that sews and usually makes her living sewing.   Image result for seamstress

The Selvage is an edge produced on woven fabric during manufacture that prevents it from unraveling.  This edge is on both sides of the fabric.  This edge is not used when sewing.  “The selvage, because it’s densely woven, is sturdier than the rest of the fabric, so it can be more difficult to sew through. And, the selvage can shrink during washing and drying leaving you with puckered and distorted seams.”  All People Quilt


The pictures above show the selvage ends on the fabric.  On the left, the manufacturer has indicated other colors that will go with this fabric.  On the right, you can see the who the manufacturer is, the name of the line of fabric name and number.

Image result for selvage quilted bag

Many quilters have begun to use the selvages for small projects.  Look at how cute this little bag is.  Who would have thought that what we have thrown away for years is now a fashion statement?   Leave it to quilters to find a way to use every bit of fabric.  🙂

A Serger is a specific type of sewing machine that is used for cutting and overcasting the edges of the fabric to prevent fraying.  It is often used to finish seams in the construction of clothing.  Image result for serger definitionA serger differs from the Sewing Machine in that it can only perform overlocking stitches, whereas the sewing machines of today have a huge variety of stitches that can be used.

Sewing Machines have come a long way over the years.  The hand crank machine, treadle machine, electric basic straight sewing machines, electronic machines and finally computerized machine.  It seems that every other year a manufacturer comes Image result for sewing machineout with a new feature to make the sewer’s life easier.  I have collected many antique and vintage sewing machines.  I have a White treadle in a lovely cabinet, and I have three Singer treadle machines.  One is a reproduction produced int eh 1970’s in a cabinet that is Related imagenot very pretty.  I have a hand crank machine that sews beautifully.  I also have several Singer Featherweights which are a favorite among quilters.  Along with them I also have a Singer 301, which is referred to as the Featherweight’s Big Sister since it is gear driven and has the fold down tray just like a Featherweight.

Image result for featherweight sewing machineFeatherweights were manufactured from 1932 through 1964.  The machines were black until the sixties when they changed the color to white, made the plug and foot pedal a permanent connection, and shortened the size of the pull-down tray.  Other changes happened throughout the years.  Prewar machines had a scroll plate on the end of the machine.  After that, they were striated.  In 1951, Singer’s Centennial, a special badge was put on the front of the black machines replacing the usual badges.  The hand wheel also went through changes going from chrome to black.

Image result for tan featherweight 221 for sale The tan Featherweight 221K was manufactured in Scotland.   This model had a faceplate that matches the tan paint instead of a chrome one.  The fold-down table is the same size as the black machines.

The white machines were manufactured in the United States only. Image result for tan featherweight 221 for sale You can see the changes made to them.  Instead of having a metal S on the front of the machine, they replaced that with a gold sticker.  Featherweights were the lightest sewing machines on the market for a long time weighing 11 pounds.  It is the favorite piecing machine for quilters.  The stitch is beautiful and the sound of the machine is wonderful.

I also have an embroidery machine, a beautiful computerized machine that has a ton of stitches on it that I love to use when making clothes for my granddaughters.  Lastly, I have a longarm which I love to use.  It’s so nice to be able to quilt my own quilts.

Smocking is actually an embroidery technique used to gather fabric so that it can stretch.   This technique has been around since the Middle Ages.  Today the technique is done by machine and is used to embellish clothing, quilts, etc.

Snaps are used for closures.  They can be metal or plastic and consist of a male and female piece.  One is anchored onto one piece of the fabric and the other one is anchored onto the other.  There are a variety of sizes and colors of snaps out there.   Here is a sample of the type of snaps available today.


Spools are small wooden or plastic cylindrical devices on which thread or other flexible materials can be wound.   These spools have a hole that runs from top to bottom so that they will sit on the spool pin of a sewing machine.  There are all sizes of spools.
Related image

Many sewers use old wooden spools for decoration.  Christmas ornaments, necklaces, scissor fobs and I am sure some things I haven’t seen.

Now Stash is what we quilters call our fabric.  We all have one.  I have a small walk-in closet full of fabric sorted into colors and themes.  I have a friend who has a closet that goes from floor to ceiling and is 14 feet long lined with shelves and loaded with fabric.  I can remember the first time I saw her stash I stood there with my mouth hanging open.

It is very difficult to look at fabric at a quilt shop and not buy something.  I always see a piece of fabric that would go perfect for a planned project. My favorite fabrics are reproduction civil war and 1930’s fabrics.  I never leave a shop that carries them without at least a fat quarter.  🙂

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about what the letter S has to do with quilting.


“A stitch in time saves nine.”

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