Four Types of Scissors for Sewing That You Should Have

What are the Best Sewing Scissors?

You’ve probably seen the memes on social media (BTW, I pasted this from a social media site, and the spelling error was already there...): 

Don't use fabric scissors for cutting paper

It’s so very true. Fabric scissors are DEDICATED for fabric use. That means this scissor is not used for anything else. Not paper. Not plastic. Not leather.     Just. Fabric.    Why? Because other materials will dull the blades, sometimes even creating a small nick or tiny groove in one or both blades, and that will render the scissors inoperable for smoothly and cleanly slicing into your fabric. Cutting into fabric requires a pair of scissors that will not catch, nick, tear or otherwise mess up the fabric as you cut.

How can you determine if a scissor is the best quality? Worthy of slicing into your lovely textiles? Perfect for sewing and crafts? The best scissor is made of tempered and hardened (hot-drop forged carbon) stainless steel and polished to perfection. It should be well-balanced with an ample grip for ease of use, without constraining or cramping your hand.

Scissors are used for many tasks in sewing and crafts. There are scissors for needlecraft. Scissors for buttonholes. Scissors for pattern making. Scissors for embroidery, applique, quilting and hobby/crafts. Dressmaker’s shears are mainly used for cutting into fabric. Each type of scissor should be balanced correctly for its specific task.

The Best Dressmaker's Shears

Dressmaker’s shears come in several weights and lengths. The average is of medium weight and length, typically 7 -9 inches long. These scissors are able to cut through fabric of many weights – the longer length and heavier weighted shears will readily cut through heavier weight fabrics such as wool coating, felted wool, tapestry, and thick knits. These scissors are designed with bent or offset handles so that whatever is being cut does not have to be lifted off the cutting surface, ensuring the shears glide along the cutting surface. Most dressmaker’s scissors are made for right-handed use. However, several manufacturers do make a left-handed balanced scissor.

Some of the best are made by Kai, Gingher, and Mundial. I list them in order of my preference. Note that Kai makes both a regular and a professional grade. Both are fabulous, but I definitely prefer the professional grade. That being said, I cut a lot of fabric, and my needs are likely more extensive than the average home sewer and crafter. These three manufacturers are the best in today's world. Kai is most expensive, Gingher is mid priced, and Mundial is the least expensive. 

All of them can be found on Amazon. Just click the links in the previous paragraph to go to each.

The Best Basic Sewing Scissors

Basic sewing scissors have many uses, mainly light to medium cutting tasks such as trimming and clipping seams and loose threads. One blade is a bit wider and the other is sharp and pointy – so that you can maneuver in constrained seams with ease. These scissors typically do not have an angled grip, so the right/left hand grip should not be an issue. 

Amazon has a wealth of styles and prices to choose from but Kai are my faves!

The Best Small Embroidery Scissors

Embroidery, applique, and buttonhole scissors are typically small, with very sharp points, and specifically contoured blades for each purpose. They are mainly for light work that entails close detail. For example, the applique scissor is designed with one narrow and one much wider blade. That wider blade protects the fabric underneath while the narrow blade makes the cut. The buttonhole scissor allows you to open buttonholes without stretching or damaging the stitches, or accidentally cutting through the end bar stitches. This scissor typically features an adjustable screw so all of the buttonholes on a particular garment can be cut at an even length, in one snip.


The Best Thread Snips

Thread Snips, also called Clips, or Nippers, are a great tool to have for cutting threads and tiny frays on fabric edges. The price point for snips run from very inexpensive to quite expensive. And it seems that price is no measure of quality! I have some very inexpensive ones that are great and some expensive ones that are just awful. You want to look for snips that have a solid opening/closing mechanism, sharp points and sharp blades. You want to be able to cut threads easily. (NOTE- I have a pair of Gingher snips that are just fabulous. They are also probably the most expensive ones out there. Just sayin')


Some of my favorites

I own dressmaker’s shears from Kai, Gingher and Mundial. I have two pair from Kai – a regular, or home sewer pair, and a professional pair. The professional are my absolute favorite. They cost twice as much as the regular pair, but they cut any fabric, and several layers of fabric, as though you are cutting butter. I like the Gingher for just about anything, from snipping notches to trimming seams to cutting out a pattern. But I do not use them for cutting layers of fabric. Two layers are the limit. Mundial comes in third. They are good scissors, less expensive than the others, and quite adequate for most sewing needs, including cutting two layers of fabric.

My favorite dressmaker’s shears are definitely the Kai professional. The Kai professional scissors are really well balanced, lightweight, and very sharp. The combination of those three attributes are critical when you sew, and cut, with a lot of different fabrics. The Kai regular pair are also well balanced and lightweight, but the angle of the handle is a little different, and they are not as efficient as the professional, especially if you cut a lot of fabric, as I do.

Ideally you will own several pairs of scissors – for fabric, for paper, and for general uses. Best brands for fabric – Kai, Gingher, Mundial. Kai are made in Japan. Gingher are made in Germany. Mundial are made in Brazil.

Take a look at our Other blog posts on the best tools:

Needles and Threads

Best Pins and Pin Cushions

Best Scissors, Seam Rippers and Thread Snips

Best Tape Measures and Clear Rulers 

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