If you have been into your local fabric shop lately, you will know there is a mind-boggling array of cutting tools in sewing to choose from. Here I will give you a quick guide to selecting the best sewing scissors and tools for your projects.
Cutting Tools in Sewing & Best Sewing Scissors
I bet you’re thinking, “But aren’t all scissors alike? Don’t they all do the same job? Well, they do all cut something but looks can be deceptive!
There are several different types of cutting tools in sewing that you will need to make your sewing efficient and without frustration.
The 8 Best Cutting Tools
- Fabric shears
- All-purpose cheap scissors
- Thread snippers
- Embroidery scissors
- Rotary cutters
- Pinking shears
- For lefties – Left-handed scissors
- Seam ripper
1. Fabric shears
These will be one of your most used and important sewing tools. The best sewing scissors are specially designed to cut fabric.
Your fabric scissors (also called shears) should be sharp enough to cut through several layers of fabric at the one time. This means they will need to be medium to large-sized. Small scissors just don’t cut through fabric and often leave burred, messy edges.
Make sure you choose a pair with comfortable handles for your fingers! And most importantly don’t use them for anything but fabric or they will dull quickly.
When you look at some of the prices of fabric shears in comparison to the average paper cutting scissors, you might think they are a bit expensive. But trust me, this is one of the best investments in your beginning sewer kit. They will be the most used item in your sewing room.
When I first started sewing, my Mum always taught me that the sewing scissors stayed in the sewing room and only cut fabric. Of course, my sister and I often snuck them out since we knew they were the sharpest scissors in the house and would cut anything!
For experts: Did you know you can get electric scissors? Electric scissors let you cut through multiple layers of fabric with little or no effort. These types of scissors are often used in clothing production and are great if you are planning on starting a sewing business.
2. All-purpose (cheap) scissors
I always have a few cheap pairs of scissors from local discount stores in my cupboard to cut paper patterns.
Downloadable sewing patterns in particular which are printed on regular printer paper can dull your expensive fabric shears.
You may find the occasional cheap pair of scissors will cut fabric but they quickly wear down and stop cutting. So save the cheap pairs for paper.
3. Thread snippers
These are one of my must-have tools. I always have a pair next to my machine when sewing to quickly snip threads.
Thread snippers have no handles, so they quickly snip by pressing the blades together.
Just watch your fingers!
4. Embroidery scissors
Ever notice those vintage heron shaped little scissors your Grandma had? These are embroidery scissors.
Small with thin blades, they are designed to snip away stray threads close to the fabric. Modern pairs may look a little plainer but still, do a great job of snipping threads.
5. Rotary cutters
Many sewers swear by their rotary cutters but I tend to avoid them after a couple of nasty accidents years ago. (Notice I said a couple – I didn’t learn the first time!)
So if you are less clumsy than me, rotary cutters can be a great way to quickly and accurately cut straight and even curved lines. Look for ones with safety features to protect your fingers.
Rotary cutters are mainly used to cut straight edges such as squares for quilting, but I have also seen some very competent cutters use it for cutting entire pattern pieces, curves and all.
When using a rotary cutter you need a few extra items to make your job easier.
You will need a self-healing cutting mat underneath when cutting, so you don’t mark your table. The cutting mats usually have grid lines on them to accurately cut squares.
The other item which is necessary is a quilting ruler or metal ruler which you will use to guide the cutter straight. Freehand cutting is for more experienced sewers and those wanting to cut curves – but don’t worry as you will get there! Just start with a ruler and learn to cut straight first.
Read my full tutorial on: How to Use a Rotary Cutter
6. Pinking shears
I love my pinking shears. Pinking shears have a zig-zag edge instead of a straight edge like regular scissors.
As well as looking pretty they stop the edges of fabric from fraying and are great for trimming curved seams.
Make sure you test them in-store adequately before buying, as cheap pairs often don’t cut very well and burr the edges of the fabric.
Keep your pinking shears away from paper as they can be hard to sharpen and are generally quite pricey to start with.
7. OPTIONAL | Left-handed scissors
My mother is left-handed and often struggles to use my fabric shears over long periods so I had to add in this section.
If you are left-handed consider investing in a specialty pair of scissors for lefties designed to make your life more comfortable.
8. Seam Rippers
While this is neither scissors or a cutter, a seam ripper is a very useful tool for cutting threads. Depending on where you live, this may be called an unpicker.
Just make sure you keep a few handy and stock up regularly as they cutting part of the blade does get dull quickly. Luckily they are really cheap.
Read my tutorial on how to use a seam ripper.
What are the brands of the best sewing scissors?
Some of the most reputable scissor brands of scissors and cutter that I have used are Mundial, Fiskars and Gingher.
My main fabric shears are from Mundial and are all metal. The best thing about investing in good pairs of scissors is that you can always get them sharpened if they get blunt. I’ve had mine for over 10 years and they have been sharpened several times. Best of all they are red!
If you are on a budget then spend most of it on your main sewing scissors or rotary cutter and get cheaper brands for the other tools.
NEXT: How to Cut Fabric
Once you have all your cutting tools in sewing, it is time to actually start cutting and then sewing.
Here I have a helpful tutorial on how to cut fabric which will give you all the tips and pointers that you need.
Do you have any special scissors in your sewing kit or recommendations for cutting tools in sewing that you can’t do without? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments.