Scissors here, scissors there. I know I put my scissors … somewhere!
Does that ever describe you? I’d like to say it doesn’t describe me, but there are times, you know – times when I fuddle about, looking for my scissors.
There are all kinds of devices to help us avoid Fuddling About for Scissors. For example, I wrote about this wooden tool caddy that serves as a scissor, pencil, and tool holder. I use it all the time!
Another example: Scissor Pulls – I wrote about them here, and I’ve got instructions to make several varieties of them in my Lavender Honey & Other Little Things e-book. Scissor pulls are handy – I love them! They make great gifts, are fun to personalize, and they’re easy and quick to embroider.
There’s another kind of decorative device that’s been used for years and years, for keeping your scissors (and other tools) close to you. It’s called a chatelaine.
This is a scissor chatelaine by Simply Scissors. It’s made of pewter, hangs from a chain about the neck, and houses a 2.5″ pair of embroidery scissors. The scissor casing is intricate and very pretty, mimicking Victorian sewing tools and accessories of old.
What’s a Chatelaine?
In a nutshell, a chatelaine was a serviceable device usually clipped at the waist that became fashionable in Victorian times (but that existed as early as Medieval times), on which women hung their tools of their trade, lifestyle, or hobby. Nurses; seamstresses with sewing tools; the lady of the house with keys, watch, and notebook; sports fans and participants; the local fishmonger’s wife with a blade and a pencil – chatelaines were used across all classes to tote tools.
One of the best online articles on chatelaines, their history, types, and uses is The Killer Mobile Device for Victorian Women from Collectors Weekly. In the article, Collectors Weekly interviews Genevieve Cummins, who co-authored Chatelaines: Utility to Glorious Extravagance, a book which is out of print now, and quite pricey if you’re looking for it. It’s a good book – if you ever come across a copy of it reasonably priced and you are interested in tools and collecting them, it’s worth getting.
Chatelaine Scissors & Other Tools
Today, we don’t tend to be-drape ourselves with all our tools. We have boxes and baskets and bags and holders and pockets and so forth.
But it’s nice to have pretty tools, and it’s nice to be able to hang them around the neck, where they’re easy to find!
Enter: chatelaine scissors. They’re pretty. They’re serviceable. And they hang around your neck.
What I really like about these particular chatelaine scissors is that they are “hearty” – that is, they don’t feel cheap and tinny. They are well made. They have a decent weight to them that keeps them in place, and the scissors fit right within their casing, practically snapping in place (though they don’t literally snap – they just fit and stay).
There are similar neck-case-scissor-items on the market, but the Simply Scissor ones are the prettiest and best-made ones that I’ve come across.
Simply Scissors (which is located in England, but their goods are carried in shops around the world) makes other tools, too.
In the photo above, you can see my collection (left to right): a magnet that works as a needle minder or a chart holder, the chatelaine scissors, a seam ripper, a thimble chatelaine, and a laying tool.
All the tools are weighty pewter. And they’re well made, with attention to detail. The seam ribber has a nice rubberized tip protector.
I find myself playing with it a lot.
I don’t really use thimbles, but I love this thimble cage.
My plan? I’m going to make a egg-shaped piece of beeswax and fit it in there, instead of a thimble.
Gravity and the chain keep the egg closed. It would be very easy to slip a thread in there and run it through a little chunk of beeswax. I’m going to try it, anyway! If I make a mess, I’ll let you know!
Where to Find
Although you can’t buy directly through Simply Scissors (they’re a wholesale company), you can find their goods in various places online.
In the UK, check Golden Hinde – the same folks own both companies. Warning: they carry some neat goldwork supplies – a beautiful selection of colored purls and the like – and, for mixed media enthusiasts, the metal mesh fabrics will grab your eye.
If you’re in the US, check Silent Stitches for the chatelaine scissors. They have them listed on their website, and you can probably special order from them.
Another US source is the website of Carol Ahles – you can find the chatelaine scissors listed here.
But, depending on shipping and currency conversion rates, you might get a better deal purchasing directly from the UK.