Pinking shears

Pinking shears are scissors, the blades of which are sawtoothed instead of straight. Pinking shears leave a zigzag pattern instead of a straight edge.

Pinking shears have a utilitarian function for cutting woven cloth. Cloth edges that are unfinished will easily fray, the weave becoming undone and threads pulling out easily. The sawtooth pattern does not prevent the fraying but limits the length of the frayed thread and thus minimizes damage.

Other applications

These scissors can also be used for decorative cuts and a number of patterns (arches, sawtooth of different aspect ratios, or asymmetric teeth) are available. True dressmaker's pinking shears, however, are not used for paper decoration because paper dulls the cutting edge.


The cut produced by pinking shears may have given its name to (or be derived from) the plant name pink, a flowering plant in the genus Dianthus (commonly called a carnation). The colour 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.


Louise Austin of Whatcom, Washington, received United States patent number 489,406 on January 3, 1893 for "Pinking shears." The patent describes how "pinking scissors or shears" are superior to the existing tools at the time, "pinking irons" and "pinking cutters." The operation of the shears are described as "pinking" or "scalloping." There are references to "cut ornamental openings in the body portion of fabrics," but no references to the more utilitarian function of preventing fraying. One of the primary early uses of pinking shears was the formation of decorative edging for patchwork quilting squares.

Benjamin Luscalzo, of Chicago, Illinois, received United States patent number 2600036 on June 10, 1952 for his improvements to "pinking shears"


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