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Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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The Scissor Fob & the Laws of Gravity

 

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Not too far into my stitching life, I was introduced to the scissor fob, an often-decorative Something that is looped or hooked to the handles of a pair of scissors.

I don’t remember how or when or why the introduction was made. But I remember being told that the scissor fob, besides being decorative, has a very useful purpose, and that I should “always keep a fob on my scissors.”

I never used scissor fobs much – and truthfully, I still don’t use them much in action. I have some that adorn some of my favorite scissors so that I can see at a glance where a particular pair is. But once I have a pair of scissors in play on a project, if it has a fob, I usually remove the fob. I find that it gets in my way when I’m intensely working.

Don’t get me wrong! I love the fob’s decorative aspect and I love the fact that a fob can help me hone in on a pair of scissors quickly. But these are not the reasons that I was told “You should always have a fob on your scissors…”

And the reason I was told this, in fact, isn’t even true. So here comes a little debunking.

Scissor fobs and the laws of gravity

I have some beautiful scissor fobs! Some were made by friends (Sara Zander made the fob in the photo above – she makes beautiful beaded fobs) and some were made by me.

Mine are usually stitched.

I like the idea of fobs, for two reasons: one, they are decorative, and I like decorative things around my needlework; and two, they are useful in that they make a pair of scissors easy to see.

Scissor fobs and the laws of gravity

This is a fob that I made from my Thousand Flowers designs. I loved this little thing! I gave it away to a friend, to use as an ornament.

Once upon a time, I was told “You should always use a fob because it will save the tips of your scissors.”

And this point is the one that I can’t really get behind.

Scissor fobs and the laws of gravity

This little fob (or ornament, too) is from my Lavender Honey & Other Little Things projects. At first, I used it as a fob, but then I came across a little zipper bag perfect for tools and decorated with bunnies. I attached this fob to the zipper as the zipper pull. Fobs, you see, are so versatile!

But do they protect your scissor tips when you drop a pair of scissors?

For a while, I entertained the possibility. After all, lots of people say that this is the primary use of a scissor fob. And at one point, I briefly assumed that it must be so, because lots of people say it.

But then common sense got the better of me.

Just because a lot of people say something, doesn’t make it true. Sometimes, we hear a thing so frequently that we just take it for granted as fact. But that doesn’t necessarily make it fact, does it?

Scissor fobs and the laws of gravity

This is a double-sided Fiesta Fob that I made once upon a time, when I was writing for Craftsy.

It’s a rather large and fat fob – better, perhaps for larger sewing scissors than for smaller embroidery scissors.

Scissor fobs and the laws of gravity

And look – there’s a little party going on, on each side!

But even this relatively gargantuan fob doesn’t keep the point of my scissors from hitting the floor first.

Why not?

Well, gravity is the force that causes objects to fall to earth at the same speed (regardless of weight). Scissors, though, have a more streamlined shape than most fobs (especially embroidered ones) and are therefore less susceptible to the force of air resistance working against gravity. With most embroidered scissor fobs, your scissors will most likely hit the ground first. With beaded scissor fobs, they might hit the ground simultaneously. Will the tips hit first? You’d have to work out the aerodynamics of the particular scissors and the particular fob.

Most fobs are not aerodynamically engineered for a particular pair of scissors, or visa-versa.

The upshot: the majority of fobs are really just for decoration or for recognizing or finding a pair of scissors easily – don’t rely on them to protect the tips of your scissors if you drop them!

If you’re prone to knocking your scissors off your work table or to dropping them, consider a scissor pull or a chatelaine or something similar, to help keep your scissors from hitting the floor.

But even in those cases, scissor sheaths – which is what we were talking about Friday (or, as some suggested, the rubber tips used on knitting needle tips) – are a good idea, because they will save you from the tips of your scissors!

 
 

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(25) Comments

  1. Enjoyed this post a lot! I have several really pretty scissor fobs and find I usually keep them on the scissors I don’t use much, because they do get in my way when I’m actually using the scissors! Now I don’t feel the least bit bad about that! 🙂

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  2. Caution – rambling thoughts while waiting for coffee to kick in ahead!

    Yes, scissor and fob will fall at the same rate, no matter the weight, that was proven centuries ago. I can’t think of a way to make scissor fall slower than a fob, short of tying a very large helium balloon to the scissors. Not saying it couldn’t be done, but how practical would the solution be, especially to be effective in such a short distance?

    Maybe the thought is that the fob being larger it would be knocked of the table first?? But if that’s the case, I wonder if the fob is that large, the scissor might not get knocked off at all if it did not have a fob.
    Perhaps someone had grip issues and found it less likely they’d drop the scissor (those that have handle openings for only thumb and 1 finger) if the fob was close and large enough to act as an extra handle for their other 3 fingers so they were less likely drop them?
    A fob *might* save the scissor tip because it gives a nice large not-sharp target to try and grab as your scissor is headed toward the floor. Unless there’s a small child or pet in the path, I don’t try to catch sharp pointy things as they fall, but I might try and grab a fob especially as it’s sliding toward the edge of the table.
    I’m thinking the most common way a fob can save your scissor points is by preventing another person from accidentally packing your scissors with their things.

    The more I read this post, ponder the physics, and scenarios, the more sure I am that fobs can save your scissor points but not from hitting the floor first.

    Is it possible that fobs were also a case or sheath and at some point became 2 separate items? I can definitely see that working as long as the scissor were re-sheathed after each use. If so, that would be so much handier than a separate sheath and fob!

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  3. My embroidery scissors are always on a long loop of ribbon. That way I can hang them from the knob of my lap stand while working. Also, my sofa “eats” things, and if they’re not on the stand, many is the time I’ve seen the end of the ribbon loop disappearing into the depths and hauled them out before they are gone for good.

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    1. This! I can’t tell the number of times I have only found my scissors sliiiiiiding into the couch cushions by the fob sticking out LOLOL! Or in the general pile of Stuff I seem to accumulate on the shelf beside my couch. Also I use the fob (sometimes) to hang the scissors from my embroidery frame. I only have the one pair of scissors down there, I need to keep track of them!

  4. Your fobs, like all your pieces, are exquisite. I do enjoy fobs on my scissors just so I have the chance to see these small pieces more often. For what it’s worth, and perhaps this is hogwash as well, way back in my stitching life (let’s not count how many decades ago that was) I was given a slightly different rationale for fobs. I was told to use a sheath or tip protector of some sort along with the fob. The fobs purpose wasn’t to protect the tips, it was meant to keep the scissors from disappearing into the depths of the chair or sofa you were sitting it. Most of the fobs back then were significantly 3D and the width was to keep them from sliding between the cushion and the chair. I’ve actually found that to be true a few times. That obviously doesn’t my work with the slim beaded fobs but they are so pretty I use them too – usually on other tools like the threaders or tail catchers. Anyway, just wanted share another version of the lore surrounding some of our favorite stitching tools. (Or is it “toys?”). Thanks for all you do to share your talent and knowledge. Be well.

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  5. Hi Mary!

    Thanks for bringing this up. I also, long ago, stopped subscribing to the ‘the fob will hit the ground first’ idea. There IS one reason, that you didn’t mention, however, that is my primary thought behind using a fob.

    Scissors are small and slippery things and a fob will definitely help to keep them from disappearing down between the cushions of your stitching chair or couch. A couple times I have needed to go find a ‘cut-proof glove, flashlight and assistance in tipping a chair over’ to be able to reach a pair of scissors which have decided to “go walkabout”, as my Aussie friends say. They have never been a pair decorated with a fob! That is a big reason why my scissors ‘wear’ fobs!

    I do sometimes find that a fob gets in the way, so I also have a beaded chatelaine that I regularly wear during ‘intense’ stitching sessions, and the ‘scissors of choice’ can be attached to that (with lots of other needed tools) without a fob and remain super easy to reach and unable to go hiding amongst the cushions!

    Happy stitching! May the gremlins keep their paws off your scissors!

    Sharlotte

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    1. Yes! I’ve heard from a lot of people about the fob saving the scissors from oblivion in couch / chair crevices and the like. A very good use for a fob!

  6. I keep current projects in plastic boxes with all supplies needed for the project, including scissors. When I make the scissor fob, it is less than 2” square and always has a wool felt back. The felt holds a couple of pins and the needles for the project. The wool prevents rust on the pins and needles. I made a special fob with a small patch of hardanger for my special (and very expensive) hardanger scissors, and keep the leather sheath on them. When ready to stitch, I can pick up the box and not worry about checking for supplies.

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  7. I have a “necklace” (I don’t know what they’re called) that is for wearing at the workplace with ID tags perhaps that I got at a $ General for a “song”- 3 of them- with colored “gems”, I use it to hang my scissors around my neck (with a knitting needle point protector on them). It’s always to hand and I can always find it without worrying about dropping it. I also have a couple of floor stands that I attached a cup hook to and tied a length of ribbon around a scissors and hang from those. Long enough to easily reach the embroidery but not hit the floor if dropped. Works great! 😀

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  8. The reason I use fobs on my scissors is to help find them when they fall between the cushions of the sofa or chair. The fob is usually easier to grab hold of.

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  9. Thanks for this, Mary. I prefer a solid, heavy tool block to keep my scissors handy and and safe on the table when I’m not using them. (I learned about tool blocks from one of your previous posts!) I found a fob, while generally adorable, would nearly always get in the way of opening the scissors efficiently when I picked them up to use them. Even just a bit of ribbon attached to the handles to identify my scissors in a workshop would get in the way. So I prefer my scissor handles neat, and, like you, I’ve found other uses for fobs. They make wonderful ukulele jewelry!

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  10. Years ago I made the Fiesta Fob. It is still on my small scissors. Handy for finding the scissors while working on a project.

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  11. I love the beautiful fobs that you have!

    I am an 18th century reenactor with some ventures into the 19th century. I demonstrate embroidery at most of the events we attend.

    In the 18th century a woman would have her embroidery scissors (and a variety of other items) hanging from her waist on a long enough ribbons so the scissors can be used while remaining attached to one’s waist band. It cannot be lost, it cannot fall on the floor, it always where I need it. My thimble, in a thimble case, also hangs from my waist (along with spice box key, house key, etc. Women did wear pockets – a separate garment in the period and the pockets are good sized tear drop shaped bags which are worn under one’s petticoat (skirt) tied around the waist and hold much more and are much more useful, as well as comfortable than modern pockets.

    At some events I have a table – sometimes large, mostly relatively small – next to me to hold what I need – the scissors are still on my waist. At some events all I have is the small period folding stool I am sitting on and the (about) 9 inch round box that I keep my embroidery for events in – and that ends up on the floor next to me.

    When we have done the 19th century event we do sometimes and I am dressed in a much less authentic outfit I still may have only a chair and the box of my needlework and the scissors have to remain in the box when not in use.

    I also stitch when we travel in our class B RV. This is a Chevy van converted to a RV and is very “cozy”. When I am stitching in it I am sitting in the driver’s seat turned around to face the inside of the RV – again, not really any place to put items I am using and when in same my work is kept in an approximately 12 in x 12in case I made to use for same. I also have never dropped my scissors nor have done so when working on my kitchen table at home.

    Now needles – well, I often tendency to drop THEM! And when working outside they tend to disappear into the grass.

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  12. In order for a scissor fob to save the scissor tips in case of a fall is for the fob to be heavier than the scissors. I always put a weight in my fobs, usually a quarter, sometimes two or three if the intended scissors are on the heavy side. I haven’t had a pair land on their tip for a long time since I started using them.

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    1. Hi, Melody – well, that’s just it. Weight isn’t necessarily going to land the fob first. Objects with different masses will still hit the ground at the same time if they are dropped (or fall) simultaneously from the same height, unless the force of air resistance affects one more than the other (due to its shape or size).

  13. Such pretty little fobs! I use one for my everyday embroidery scissors. Many years ago my son needlepointed for me a kit of a tiny bird mounted in its lucite holder. It’s now on a 12-inch ribbon and is draped over the arm of the chair I sit in to embroider and enjoyed daily.

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  14. Dear Mary

    Back writing again been away for a while.

    I like this article on scissor fobs. I don’t actually use them I find they get in the way when you use them, although I’m sure they are useful for finding scissors when you lose them. Your fobs are beautifully stitched and very attractive. I think I will stick to my no fob on scissors as I find them beautiful but cumbersome. Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts on the scissor fob and for all the photos and links above.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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  15. Although I don’t use fobs, I have a thought. I wonder if back in the day, the fobs were on the heavy side. I’m thinking, if so, when the slip off a table and begin to fall, the fob might pull the scissors open so the scissors are less likely to hit the ground point first; they may fall flat while they are open? (picture me shrugging my shoulders because I have no idea if this makes sense ;o) )

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  16. I love to keep all my scissors simple, but after reading your post, it makes sense the useful idea to make a fob for each one of my scissors, it will help me to find them with no much trouble and in less time, and it will be fun to make a couple fobs with embroidery, thanks for sharing a great idea to make!

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  17. Hi, Mary! I laughed a lot over this article. I also have many lovely scissors fobs and they usually get in the way when I am trying to use the scissors, especially for intricate work.
    My first fob I ever had, actually DID protect the closed tip of my scissors! It was a small, knitting needle tip protector that had somehow been fastened to a beaded string. The beaded string was long enough that when not using the scissors, I could swing the tip protector around and “sheath” the scissors tip. This was an incredibly practical fob but rather less attractive because of the useful, but comely, rubber thing at the end of it!
    Thanks for always brightening my day with your wonderful self!!!
    Hugs and blessings, Connie :0)

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  18. Interestingly, while reading this article, I didn’t understand the difference between a scissor fob and a scissor pull until almost the last paragraph.

    After reading your article (linked above) on scissor pulls a while back, I purchased one of the Retracto Reel pulls for my embroidery scissors. One day soon, I plan to embroider a little cover for it (like the one in your “Lavender Honey & Other Little Things” ebook). I love it because I do a lot of stitching during plane trips. I clip it to my seatbelt and never have to worry about dropping my scissors. Now I just need to figure out how to tether the sheath, as well.

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