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i do not like my duck billed scissors

I do not like my duckbill scissors // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

There I said it. I do not like my duck billed scissors.

I feel like this is a bit of an unpopular opinion? I feel like I must be missing something! For quite some time I had notice many people talking about the many joys of their duckbill scissors and how superior they are for grading seams. So I bought some! I very excitedly tried them – and i was a little nonplussed. It wasn’t love at first sight –  unlike my pinking shears. They did a really great job of holding the fabric i didn’t want to cut out of the way, but i felt like the trimmed edge was very messy and jagged and it was rather an effort to keep it straight and even and not trim too close to the seam. After forcing myself to use them quite a few times to see if i needed to get used to them, i found a great deal of care was needed to make a straight/neat cut, and I really started to wonder what the point was.

I do not like my duckbill scissors // Megan Nielsen Design Diary

I have switched back to my regular shears and carefully trimming whilst holding the fabric i don’t want to cut out of the way with my fingers. I know it’s super fun to try interesting new tools, but this little experience has made me wonder whether it’s worth using a specialty tool just for the sake of it when something simpler will suffice.

I think the lesson here for me is that a sewing purchase should come from a place of actual need, to solve an observed problem, rather than from a desire to follow a trend and have the new shiny thing everyone else has.

What do you think? Have you tried duckbill scissors? Do you love them or hate them? How do you choose what tools you buy?

I do not like my duckbill scissors // Megan Nielsen Design Diary
About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Natalie
Natalie
3 years ago

I’m super curious to know what people say to this. I don’t love mine either, for the same reasons you’ve given. I never feel like I’m getting a smooth cut. I always feel unsure I’m using them the best way.

Vanessa
Vanessa
3 years ago

I completely agree. I was equally disappointed after my purchase.

Emma
3 years ago

I like mine, because of the not-accidentally-cutting-through-things factor. I find it easier and less risky than trying to hold the fabric away with my hand. I had tried a friend’s pair out a few times before I bought mine though, so I knew I wanted a pair and would like them before I bought. I know the feeling of finding that a gadget everyone raves about isn’t actually that great though.

Nancy
Nancy
3 years ago

The ONLY time I enjoy using them is when trimming away fabric after sewing the elastic for panties…..other than that, I totally agree that they make a mess of anything else I’m trying to trim!

Tyrion
Tyrion
3 years ago
Reply to  Meg

I have a pair of duckbill scissors, I was sold on the grading factor, but have the same complaint as everyone else, that my cutting lines aren’t clean because the blades are so short. But they are actually meant for applique, to cut really close to stitching lines. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPqoFoynqx8

Sewingzoe
Sewingzoe
3 years ago

I love them and I would not miss them. I do not understand why you get a choppy cutting line. The cutting technique is the same as with regular scissors when you move them forward. Duckbill scissored are used to be used when you trim very close to the seam and protect you from cutting the underneath fabric. You must get a better look than I see on your trimmed seams, if you used duck bill scissors…. Sorry!

Sewingzoe
Sewingzoe
3 years ago
Reply to  Meg

I already sent you a message ( hello@megan…) with pictures how I use the duckbill scissors and how I hem knits with the honeycomb stitch, although I do have a Bernina coverstitch. I like my personalised hems, they are my signature on knits. The hems are interfaced, not only to stabilise the stitching, but also to ease the hem, if needed. I have a special technique to get perfect hems. I hope you will love your duckbill scissors a bit more. They are not meant to replace the tailor’s point scissors, but are very helpful for applique and trimming very, very close to the stitch line.

CONI SIMS
CONI SIMS
1 year ago
Reply to  Sewingzoe

Sewing Zoe I have just begun trying to hem knit t-shirts and tried a double needle but broke on my first try. I would very much love to know your special technique because I can’t afford to keep trying double needles. Can you email me at coni2629@gmail.com thank you!

Jean
Jean
3 years ago

I am so happy to hear you say this about those scissors! I have the exact same issues and just thought I must be doing it wrong…I have had mine for years and try them out now and again..same results. I will stick with regular scissors too! No problems with those!

Lori
Lori
3 years ago

I also get the choppy uneven lines but I still like to use them because I have butchered a few pieces with regular scissors. I find I have the same problem with linking shears as these though. I’m very uneven. Lol. Perhaps I too need a scissors class. Thanks for mentioning this. I also thought perhaps I was the only one All that being said. I misplaced them for about 6 months and did miss them and was really glad I got them back so I guess that means I do like them. Lol.

Chris Griffin
Chris Griffin
3 years ago

I love mine for close grading. I think it takes a bit of mental and physical wrangling to make them work. If you move the duck-bill while cutting, you end up with a jagged line. The trick I’ve found is to leave the duck alone and move the bottom half only. That way the duck stays flat to the fabric, separating layers and your line stays straight.
However, if what you are doing works, maybe it’s not work the effort! I tend to be a fan of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”!

Kim Hood
3 years ago

I assumed it was just me. Duck billed scissors are a tool I wouldn’t miss.

Amy Tuite
3 years ago

Oh I am the worst for buying sewing tools. I described it to a friend while shopping at Spotlight on Saturday. It’s like stationery, but for sewing (I reckon I did the second degree just so I could buy more highlighters and post-it notes!)
My latest is a flexible ruler to try to conquer my crotch curve ?

Rhonda L Russell
Rhonda L Russell
3 years ago
Reply to  Amy Tuite

I was thinking about the flexible ruler, too but then I saw the aluminum foil method and decided to save my money for something else. I googled “using aluminum foil for crotch curve” and multiple results appeared.

Amy Tuite
3 years ago

I have seen that, but it doesn’t involve a purchase! ?

Rhonda L Russell
Rhonda L Russell
3 years ago
Reply to  Amy Tuite

Just the cost of the aluminum foil. Here’s one blog post that gives the process information for free: https://5outof4.com/tin-foil-crotch-curve-method-pants-fitting/.

Linda Amerigo
Linda Amerigo
3 years ago

I too have stopped using my duck billed scissors. After much practice, I find that I inevitable cut the garment most times. This is something that I never do with my regular scissors.

Hilary Edwards-Malam
3 years ago

I don’t have duck-billed scissors but I bought a rotary cutter because I thought I should and I hate it!!! I love to hear that satisfying sound of scissors slicing through cloth and I can get a much better cut using scissors over rotary.
Am I alone?!!!

Lynne
Lynne
3 years ago

I have the same thoughts on scissors versus rotary cutters , although I do still persevere with my rotary cutter! I don’t know why… lol. X

Hilary Edwards-Malam
3 years ago
Reply to  Lynne

I know! I hate that I’ve bought something then don’t use it, so every now and again I get it out for another go and realise once again why it’s in its box! How can you cut notches with any precision with a rotary?

Lynne
Lynne
3 years ago

Absolutely!!!!! ???

Debbie Alexander
3 years ago

Hilary- You should NEVER trim with a rotary cutter unless you are very experienced with it. I’ve been using rotary cutters over 35 years and am just now using rotary to take out stitches. The rotary should be used with a straight rulers and a cutting mat. Happy stitching!!!

Hilary Edwards-Malam
3 years ago

Yes, I bought it thinking it would replace my scissors and quickly realised it wouldn’t. I only use it now for straight lines if I use it at all. And only with a metal ruler and a cutting mat. ;-)

Angela Wohlgethan
Angela Wohlgethan
3 years ago

I love to make new expierences and I tried them in my favourite fabric shop, but didn’t like them and I was happy not to purchase them.

Fran Giacobbe
Fran Giacobbe
3 years ago

Duckbill scissors: I don’t love; I don’t hate. Like Natalie, I feel I never get a smooth cut. If I start out using them, I almost always will change to my Kai scissors.

Anne
3 years ago

I like my duckbill scissors but just can’t get on with pinking shears. I mislaid my duckbills and cut into the fabric with the replacement. I was so glad to find them again.

TinaLou
TinaLou
3 years ago

The gingher ones I had worked beautifully, but also are one of the few tools that are specifically ‘handed’. I am a leftie, and could not get them to work for me. I bought a lesser quality leftie pair, but the cutting quality and overall feel are decidedly sub-par.

Amber
Amber
3 years ago

I finally bought duckbill scissors this year. I love them for sewing bras and underwear because I can get really precise when I’m trimming. But I feel like the duckbills aren’t comfortable on my fingers so I don’t really use them for other projects. It looks like your regular scissors have a nice thin blade, so you can probably get a close cut. My regular scissors are sort of chunky and I can’t get as close as the duckbills. But I don’t use my regular scissors much, because I’m 100% team rotary cutter. I love love love my little thread snips though!

Sue Stoney
3 years ago

I have persisted with mine but they are not magic and it’s still easy to cut a hole in the underneath fabric. In theory they should be brilliant but in practice? A bit bleh!

katherine
3 years ago

Is this where I confess that I never grade seams? Ha Ha

Mostly I use my duck billed scissors for lingerie and swimwear, though often I wish they had much longer blades. My duck billed scissors seem a lot sharper than my regular scissors, maybe because they get used a whole lot less, so they seam to cut wedges of lingerie elastic quite well.

One tool I don’t understand is a buttonhole chisel. Do people have them in all the sizes of buttons? I only have one size and lining it up in the buttonhole just leads me to fret about cutting threads. I much prefer to cut buttonholes with a seam ripper. I cut from each end into the middle and I’ve never lost a buttonhole yet.

Eileen Cox
Eileen Cox
3 years ago
Reply to  katherine

If the buttonhole to be cut is too small for the size of the chisel blade, place the buttonhole partially off the edge of the wooden block, then only use part of the chisel to cut half the buttonhole. Turn the garment and then cut the other half of the buttonhole the same way.

Meg
Meg
3 years ago

I have a pair. I don’t love them, mostly because they hurt my fingers when I use them for even the smallest seam trimming! Bad, non-ergonomic design. Does Kai make duckbills? One serrated blade would help lots!!

Eileen Cox
Eileen Cox
3 years ago

I have a pair of Gingher duckbill scissors and I couldn’t live without them. I do a fair amount of bridal style dress hemming, and the duckbill scissors work better than anything else for close trimming a narrow hem in a chiffon skirt.

I have found that by placing my left hand flat underneath the chiffon fabric and gently holding the edge with my thumb, sliding the bill beneath the layer to be cut (and making sure it’s positioned properly BEFORE I cut) that I can cut a pretty straight line. Not the full length of the bill, though – the tip is very sharp and can easily slice into the wrong part of the garment. You really do need to have the support underneath the fabric as you cut, and cutting slowly is a must.

Sue
Sue
3 years ago

I feel the same way as you! I think they are helpful, but I don’t like the way the jagged, haphazard trimmed seam allowance looks afterwards… even though it’s hidden inside the garment. I wondered if I was using them incorrectly, but don’t think I am! Thanks for sharing this opinion. I wonder if we can blame their somewhat mysterious popularity on the proliferation of affiliate links…and the fact that they are more affordable than other trendy tools (Berninas come to mind!).

Hila Willing
3 years ago

I have a word I like to use for my experience with duck billed scissors -= whelmed. It means neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed. Its what my kids would call “meh”. They were overhyped IMO so they didnt meet my expectation. My pinking shears on the other hand – couldnt live without them! Great post!

Debbie Alexander
3 years ago

I’m in love with my duck billed scissors, actually have 2 pair. Was introduced to them doing heirloom stitching on machine, fabulous thing to have. I use them still 30 years later.

Rebecca Burkett
Rebecca Burkett
1 year ago

I disagree. I love mine. I do a lot of applique and the edges are covered by satin stitch usually. So a really clean edge is not so important to me.

Gayle
Gayle
1 year ago

I don’t like the duckbills for trimming in clothing as I have cut the unintended fabric a few times. I do like them for trimming applique but don’t do that very often so I could live without the duckbills. There must be a way to master trimming garment hems, etc. with them but I have not found it yet.

Michelle
Michelle
4 months ago

I’d be curious to know if you have changed your attitude to the duckbill scissors. On the weekend I had to grade a seam and I am sure I could have done better, so I was looking into these scissors. I wish I knew where I could try a pair. I will have to ask my mums quilting friends to see if someone has a pair.