This article will teach you about the types of sewing scissors so you can choose the best scissors for cutting fabric and the job at hand. Every sewer knows that using the correct sewing scissors is the most important part of dressmaking. Poorly cut fabrics never look quite the same when they are made up, so making the right choice matters.
Types of Sewing Scissors Tutorial
There are many different types of sewing scissors made for different sewing tasks. This tutorial will give you an overview of the best sewing scissors to use for your latest fabric project.
What are Sewing Scissors?
Sewing scissors are a type of scissors that are specifically designed for sewing and cutting craft fabrics. There are several different types of scissors for different tasks in sewing and dressmaking. As a general rule, sewing scissors should only be used for cutting fabric, as using them for other purposes will quickly dull the blade. Blunt sewing scissors will result in burred edges on your fabric.
What are Scissors vs. Shears?
It is also worth noting although all these cutting tools are listed under scissors, there is a difference between a pair of scissors and shears. Shears are bigger than scissors, and they are usually more than six inches long with a long blade.
Shears have longer handles and allow for more than one finger to grip the handle. Shears are heavier and put more pressure on the fabric they are cutting.
11 Types of Scissors and Their Uses
Scissors are one of the most important tools in your sewing kit. Here are some of the most widely used types of sewing scissors so you can choose the best scissors to cut your fabric:
1. Applique Scissors
Applique scissors are specialized for the purpose of cutting away fabric after it has been appliqued. They have an extra piece of metal on one of the blades. The beauty of these scissors is that they trim off excess fabric as close as possible to the stitching line.
2. Buttonhole Scissors
Buttonhole scissors are designed to cut open a machine-stitched buttonhole. They are manufactured with an adjustable screw. Using a buttonhole scissor adjustment allows each buttonhole size to be accurate.
It is advisable to initially try your buttonhole scissors out on a scrap because cutting a buttonhole is not something you can quickly repair if it goes wrong.
3. Dressmaker Shears and Scissors
Also called tailor's scissors, these are the best scissors to cut fabric and also the most expensive. Noted for their size, these sewing scissors are really large. The blade is angled so the shears can rest comfortably on the fabric. Their large blades can cut several layers of fabric at once. These can have metal or plastic handles.
If you are going to be cutting heavy fabrics such as canvas, wool or denim, you will need a good pair of scissors. A quality, heavy-duty pair. The point on dressmaker's scissors is also used for clipping curves and corners.
What are tailor's scissors vs sewing scissors?
While these terms are often used interchangably, tailors scissors or dressmaking scissors are often larger with longer blades.
4. Electronic Shears
Modern technology has brought us to the point where most things mechanical can be made electronic. Scissors are amongst the many sewing tools with the ability to be made into electronic devices. Electronic scissors have greater cutting power and are able to cut through numerous fabric layers at once. They are an ideal gift for someone with arthritis because there is less pressure required.
5. Embroidery Scissors
Embroidery scissors are small, sharp, pointy scissors. They can be used for your embroidery work as well as for making small snips or cutting threads. Embroidery scissors may be curved slightly to prevent their sharp edges from getting in the way.
6. Heavy Duty Shears
Heavy-duty shears are ideal for these projects where you are using thick fabrics. Cutting articles with multiple layers like homemade quilts is another reason for having heavy-duty shears.
7. Left-Handed Scissors
Left-handed scissors are connected differently to their counterpart of right-handed blades and handles. The blades are reversed to allow you to see the cutting line and get a better cut if you are left-handed.
Left-handed scissors make a world of difference if you are left-hand dominant. Try cutting with left-handed scissors if you are right-handed. See how awkward it feels.
8. Paper Scissors
Paper scissors are all-purpose scissors used for cutting patterns, paper, and anything that is not fabric. Paper scissors should be kept for paper only and as a sure-fire way of protecting your finest fabric scissors.
9. Pinking Shears
Pinking shears were used to neaten raw edges and prevent fraying before the serger or zigzag arrived on the scene. These shears have a jagged edge and are finely tuned to cut a zigzag edge into the fabric. They are heavy to hold and must be sharp. Never use your pinking shears to cut anything other than fabrics, as they are hard to sharpen. Read all about pinked seams.
10. Rotary Cutter
Rotary cutters are great for cutting along the dotted line, so to speak, and coming out with a straight well-cut edge. However, remember that the rotary cutter needs a cutting mat to roll it on. A self-healing rotary mat is the best option.
A thick plastic or perspex ruler is another helpful tool when using a rotary cutter.
Do your homework and try out different cutter brands till you find the best fit for your needs. A curved handle will fit into the palm of your hand, and the pressure you apply with the drag-down motion will cut most fabrics neatly.
The size of the blade will determine the type of project you plan to work on. A 28mm blade is best for smaller projects, and the 45 mm blade is a more all-purpose cutting blade.
Remember to observe safety rules with your rotary cutter. The best cutters have a sheath guard to cover the blade when the cutter.
Keep the blade protected and away from small children when it is not in use. Push the blade away from you for personal safety as you cut. Ensure the blade is sharp because a sharp blade is less likely to slip. Also, avoid bumping into pins along the way. They may cause the cutter to stray from its direction, and the pin may blunt the blade.
11. Thread Snips
These little thread cutters are handy for snipping off the threads after you are sure your seam is securely stitched with a double backstitch. A quick snip with the thread snips, and the ugly threads are chopped off. It is a handy tool that is spring-based. You simply pick them up, hold and snip them closed.
How to Choose the Best Scissors to Cut Fabric
Quality sewing scissors are essential and will make all the difference to your sewing experiences. Today's trend is to have a few quality scissors to fit the task on hand.
Once you have decided on the types of fabric scissors you require, look for quality brand names and be prepared to spend a little more on a good pair that will last you a lifetime if they are looked after. A specialist sewing shop will know the top brands.
Some of the best-known sewing scissor brands are:
Really sharp blades should be top of your list of requirements. The handles, grip comfort, and cutting action are also important features. Try out the model and see if the grip feels comfortable. A comfortable pair of fabric scissors will prevent hand fatigue when you are cutting clothing. A spring grip may be something you would have to get used to.
Here are a few important factors to consider when choosing the best types of sewing scissors for you:
Scissor Metal Type
Check the blades and what they are made of, as the metals and their additives will make a difference in the scissors' quality and longevity.
Scissors are generally made of steel. Stainless steel blades or carbon steel plated with nickel or chromium helps prevent the scissors from rusting. Stainless steel with additive vanadium makes the blades of the sewing scissors extra strong. Specialized scissors may have added alloys or coatings to help keep them sharp and strong.
Left or Right-Handed Scissors
Buying fabric scissors for your dominant side, left or right, will make an enormous difference to the quality of your cutting. If you are not sure about the dominance of the scissors you are buying, then look at the scissors as you cut with them.
Right-handed scissors will have the right blade of the scissors doing the work from the side that you see as you look down on the scissors. Left-handers using right-handed scissors feel very uncomfortable, and vice versa.
Choosing the best sewing scissors is a very personal decision. The weight of the scissors is an essential factor because scissors are handheld tools. Lightweight scissors will suit people with smaller hands or someone with a hand injury or arthritis.
There is really no one size fits all, and if you are investing in really good quality scissors, it is worth trying them out and choosing a good make that suits your requirements. Heavier scissors are often preferred because they feel stable and sturdy. Different fabric types need heavy or lightweight scissors.
Scissor Handle Size and Type
The handle size of the fabric scissors is another personal choice. Large scissors will have larger handles, but the part where your fingers and thumb go should be shaped to make the cutting action comfortable.
Ergonomics come to mind here as the top brands have considered what is comfortable and manageable to complement the blades of the scissors and the hand that controls them. Angled or bent handles make it easier to cut on flat surfaces.
Blade Types - Straight, Wavy, Pinked
The types of fabric scissors available have become varied with the introduction of blades that are curved or wavy, as well as the traditional straight blade.
Pinking shears have a zig-zag-shaped blade and are used to cut the fabric into a pattern that acts as a quick, neatened edge. Pinking shears are described as being saw-toothed. Their jagged edge can be used for decorative purposes or just for neatening the edge of the fabric.
Dressmakers' scissor blades are between 7 – 10", and the cutting sides are beveled to ensure a really sharp cutting edge. Decorative scissors are designed to cut different edge patterns. They are ideal for little craft projects and curved edges.
How to Look After Sewing Scissors
By now, you have finally convinced yourself that the best sewing investment you are about to make is a pair of top-of-the-range scissors. Once you have bought these expensive scissors for your personal use, it is time to take good care of them.
Sewing scissors must only be used for cutting fabric. That is golden rule number one.
Scissor Maintainance Tips
- A wipe with water and dish soap helps to keep the blades clean. Stubborn dirt or residue can be taken off with white vinegar, acetone, or nail varnish remover.
- Oil the joint of the blades every few months to keep the movement of the scissors running smoothly. Just rub a few drops of multipurpose oil into the part of the scissors where the screw is positioned. Make sure you rub all the oil off before starting your next project. Cut out some scraps of fabric to check if there is no residue.
When to Sharpen Sewing Scissors
If you find your scissors cannot cut through some fine silk or soft fabric, it may be time to have the blades sharpened. Ideally, take your scissors to a professional scissor sharpener. Home scissor sharpeners are available over the counter, but there is nothing like getting them done by a pro!
How to Store Sewing Scissors
Store your high quality scissors carefully by standing them upright in a jar or keep the packaging they came in. Alternatively, store them in a pouch. Make sure they are kept away from children.
Types of Sewing Scissors – In Conclusion
Fabric scissors are a fundamental tool in the dressmaking world. Having a variety of types of sewing scissors makes the life of a regular sewer even easier. In fact, a pair of scissors in your standard sewing tool kit will never go amiss. Where possible, choose a high-quality pair over a cheaper pair particularly for your main fabric cutting scissors.