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The Way Sewing Used To Be: Scissors


Why do I like vintage? Except for the speed of communication, medicine, electricity and maybe a few other things, everything is recycled. DaVinci knew how to fly, the Egyptians used make up and the Chinese made beautiful silks thousands of years ago. Today, most things are remade and there is very little newness. The future is in the past.

About 4 months ago, I was gifted a box of vintage sewing goodies. It originally belonged to the gifter’s grandmother and inside were doodads so delicious, any sewer would want to eat them. Okay, not really, but any sewer would toy with the idea of preserving the contents rather than putting them to use. Myself included. The packaging, its colors and its designs were and still are incredible. What happened to that kind of graphic integrity? Seems like it was thrown out the window along with handkerchiefs and pantyhose. But it would be a shame to leave them in the box for good. Would I sew a garment and hang it in my closet forever? If the future lies in the past, I had to find a way to keep the memories of these items but also put them to work. So, I started taking pictures of a few and uploading them to Instagram with the hashtag #thewaysewingusedtobe. To my surprise, a couple weeks later, other people started posting their goodies as well. I can’t believe it, but today, there are over 150 images! Thank you for being a sewing nerd with me. Is it just me or how cool is it that there is now an archive of the way sewing used to be?

I want to continue this little initiative and start a monthly theme – scissors. If you’re like me, the only variety you know are Gingher or the cheap-oh alternative found at Joann’s, Michaels or other local craft stores. A quick search on Ebay and you’ll quickly learn just like I did that in the 50s, 60s and 70s, there were more choices. Many more; even electric scissors! I’m sure people in the 60s thought they were so high-tech too! For less than $15 dollars, I bought a pair of Thor Speed Snip Electric Scissors. According to the instruction sheet, they were “intended for the 40 million women who sew creatively.” The manual continues, “The dramatically new way for accurate cutting of cloth, fabrics, dress goods, drapery materials, seating, etc. Completely eliminates chances of sore fingers and cramped, tired hands. Small, compact, durable. Safe, even for children.” A little online research and I learned that Thor was founded in 1893 as the Independent Pneumatic Tool Co. by John D. Hurley, John Hopkins (then mayor of Chicago) and Roger Sullivan (a politician). In 1953, the name was dropped in favor of Thor Power Tool Co., but the same Thor logo was kept. They acquired Speedway Manufacturing Company in 1954 and incorporated its name and brands into the Thor family. Thor was best known for handheld power tools and had factories in Cicerio and La Grange Park, Illinois. The company was later acquired by Stewart-Warner Corp and by 1988, all products with the Thor name were replaced with Stewart-Warner.

So, for the next month or so, I’ll be posting the various vintage scissors I’ve acquired on Instagram with the same hashtag, #thewaysewingusedtobe. Feel free to join in this theme, but don’t feel pressured that only scissors are welcomed. There is room for all vintage sewing notions!

thor_scissors_2thor_scissors_4 thor_scissors_3check_out_more_02the_way_sewing_used_to_be_3_01vintage sewing notions


  1. Reply


    Those scissors look amazing! I recall my grandma telling me she got a pair when my mom was a little girl.
    Now I think I’ll dig around for some of my great grandmothers sewing items to contribute to the hashtag.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Oh yes! Please do! Can’t wait to see those scissors.

  2. Reply

    Paige @ LPD

    You can actually still purchase electric scissors in my local joann’s. http://www.joann.com/electric-scissors/11657194.html

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      But they’re not vintage!

  3. Reply


    Vintage sewing stuff really gets me excited for some reason! I love it!


    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan


  4. Reply

    Lady ID

    For the past seven/eight years I have used the wax marking paper my mother had left over from the 70s. Each time I buy new marking paper I end up going to my old one because it just works the best. Now they’re all falling apart from so much use – maybe I should check ebay.

    Those scissors look fun!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      How great is it that it’s lasted so long! Just shows the power and longevity of vintage.

    • Reply

      Sew, Incidentally...

      Some people fuse lightweight non-woven iron-on interfacing to the wrong-side of their wax tracing paper to give it longer life 🙂

  5. Reply

    Sew, Incidentally...

    I love all the #thewaysewingusedtobe pics too!
    3 of the images you’ve featured above are mine! (The Greist Button Holer – 2nd row from top), and (4th row) the Novum sewing machine + Vangard buttonholer :-).

    I find buying vintage sewing notions addictive ;-).

    It’s kind of my own way of preserving them for the future!!

  6. Reply

    Anna (64colorbox)

    I inherited a pair of these from my gramma when I was 10 or so. I loved using them. They worked well for 5-6 years. I don’t know what happened to them when I left for college. It would be amazing to find a pair again.

  7. Reply

    Maddie Flanigan

    there are a ton on Ebay for very cheap if you want to get another pair.

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