Scissors Are Everything! How to Pick the Perfect Pair for Your Sewing Project

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Scissors are so humble and hard-working, sometimes it's easy to forget they're in your sewing kit. But here's a secret: They have superpowers. The right pair can take your sewing to new levels of awesomeness.

Even though it's all too common to rely on whatever scissors happen to be lying around, the pair you use definitely shouldn't be an afterthought. Ask yourself: Are your current scissors working as hard as they should, or could a better pair make your sewing faster , smoother and oh so much easier?

The latest sewing scissors can handle a wide range of fabrics and cutting needs, plus they're more comfortable to use. Although a pair of high-quality dressmaker shears should do the trick for most fabric cutting tasks, you'll likely want to have other options, too.

So, if you're ready to go scissor-shopping, where do you start? Let's look at some commonly asked questions about cutting tools and figure out the right ones for you.

Are Scissors and Shears the Same Thing?

Nope. Scissors and shears are different, and both have a place in your sewing kit.

Two things set these cutting tools apart: The length of their blades and the shape of their handles. Scissors typically have blades that are six inches long or less; with shears, blades run seven inches or more. As for the handles, scissors have identical holes for the fingers, while shears have one small handle for the thumb and another larger handle for two or more fingers. The lopsided handles on shears are designed to be comfortable to hold, and to make it easier to cut with precision. Many shears have bent-looking handles too, crucial for cutting fabric on a flat surface.

Why Invest in High-Quality Scissors?

The answer is simple: The better your scissors, the more efficient your sewing. If you find yourself struggling to cut through a piece of fabric, your scissors are just not up to the task. It's worth spending as much as you can afford, because price actually does tend to equal quality when it comes to scissors and shears.

Keep in mind that a good pair of scissors will last you a lifetime. If you take care of them, they'll pay for themselves a thousand times over.

Which Brand is Best for You?

The high-end brands you'll come across most often are Fiskars , Gingher and Kai . All three are exceptional and produce reliably high-quality scissors and shears.

Fiskars

This brand offers the widest range of price points, from very inexpensive to relatively expensive. Fiskars also has a huuuuge assortment of cutting tools that can be used for crafts ranging from sewing and quilting to embroidery.

In general, the more expensive Fiskars models perform better. Here are some of our faves:

Amplify Shears

Photo courtesy of Fiskars

The Amplify line of shears is designed to cut through thick materials, a task scissors usually can't handle. They automatically sense when the blades begin to separate, and then adjust to the fabric’s thickness so they can cut through it with ease. These shears come in a bunch of sizes so they can tackle all types of sewing tasks, and they're great to have around if you're a frequent sewer or quilter.

Razor Edge

Photo courtesy of Fiskars

True to their name, these are Fiskars' sharpest blades. Razor Edge models tend to produce the very best crisp and clean cuts. If any scissors should be your fabric-cutting go-to, this is it.

Tabletop Fabric Shears

Photo courtesy of Fiskars

The angled blades on these fabric shears are designed specifically for tabletop cutting — they've got a larger handle, long blades and a unique shape that allows you to accurately snip fabric resting on a flat surface. Say goodbye to cutting mistakes!

Easy Action

Photo courtesy of Fiskars

The Easy Action scissors are designed to be super comfortable to hold and very easy to use. They're especially helpful if you have arthritis or limited strength in your hands. The spring-action design gently opens the blades after each cut, to help reduce hand strain. You'll find this feature on a variety of models in this line.

Gingher

This brand is another solid choice, with cutting tools that are the most traditional in terms of style and design.

Gingher’s line is much more limited than Fiskars, designed almost exclusively for sewing, quilting and embroidery. But it's hard to go wrong with any of the scissors or shears. They're all well worth the investment

The classic Gingher scissors and shears have the brand's characteristic silver or gold handles and come in a range of blade lengths (and they're available in bent-handle styles too).

The lightweight models are designed with molded plastic handles for a softer, more comfortable grip.

Gingher also makes a line of compact scissors in varying styles for small tasks, plus a line of thread cutters that are notably sharp compared to the competition.

Kai

Photo courtesy of Kai

Kai's scissors are designed almost exclusively for sewing and quilting. Imported from Japan, the scissors have blades made of stainless steel strengthened with vanadium.

Kai offers two lines, for two different levels of performance:

  • The 5000 series includes a range of scissors and shears with soft ergonomic handles, plus several bent-handle versions.
  • The 7000 professional series is designed for experienced, frequent sewers who need the highest quality tool available. Scissors in this line have blades as long as 12 inches. The prices in this series are higher than what you'll typically find from Gingher or Fiskars.

Which Other Cutting Tools are Worth Having?

Two other types of scissors deserve a place in sewing kits: pinking shears and serrated scissors.

Way before sergers became popular, sewers finished seams with pinking shears to keep raw edges from fraying. These days, using pinking shears is also an excellent alternative to trimming and clipping curves. The V-cuts simulate the same trim and clip effect, and do it quickly and easily.

Serrated blades are another tool worth buying, if you ever need to work with slippery or delicate fabrics that move around as you're cutting. The blade's edges help grip the fabric, so you can cut more smoothly and efficiently.

Chances are, you'll need to clear some space in your sewing kit to make room for a couple of new (or extra) cutting tools. And even if you end up spending more than you ever thought you would for a pair of scissors, you'll be glad you did the next time you're sewing — and not struggling with fabric or hurting your hands!

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