Sewing scissors are an essential tool for anyone who loves to sew. They come in various shapes, sizes, and types, each designed for specific tasks. Choosing the right type of sewing scissors can greatly impact the quality and efficiency of your sewing projects. In this guide, we’ll explore the key factors to consider when selecting sewing scissors and the various types available.
Factors to Consider
Sewing scissors typically have blades made of stainless steel or high-carbon steel. Stainless steel is resistant to rust and corrosion, making it a good choice for general-purpose scissors. High-carbon steel blades are sharper and stay sharp longer, making them ideal for fabric cutting.
3. Blade Length
Blade length matters. Longer blades are suitable for cutting long, straight lines in fabric, while shorter blades are better for detailed work. Choose a length that matches your intended tasks.
4. Handle Design
Ergonomics is essential, especially if you spend extended periods sewing. Scissors with comfortable, cushioned handles can reduce hand fatigue. Some handles are designed for left-handed users, so be sure to check if you’re a lefty.
5. Weight and Balance
Consider the weight and balance of the scissors. Lightweight scissors are easier to handle for extended periods, while a well-balanced pair can provide better control and accuracy.
Types of Sewing Scissors
Now that you’ve considered the factors, let’s explore the various types of sewing scissors available:
1. Fabric Shears
Purpose: Cutting fabric in long, straight lines. Features: Long blades (typically 7-12 inches), sharp edges, comfortable handles.
Fabric shears are the workhorses of sewing scissors. They are ideal for cutting fabric quickly and accurately. Look for high-quality fabric shears with precision-ground blades for clean cuts.
2. Embroidery Scissors
Purpose: Detail work, cutting threads, and small fabric pieces. Features: Small blades (3-6 inches), fine tips, often decorative handles.
Embroidery scissors are designed for precision. Their small size and pointed tips make them perfect for snipping threads, trimming seam allowances, and intricate embroidery work.
3. Pinking Shears
Purpose: Preventing fabric fraying. Features: Zigzag blades, available in various blade lengths.
Pinking shears have zigzag blades that create a serrated edge when cutting fabric. This edge helps prevent fraying, making them useful for finishing seams or cutting fabrics prone to unraveling.
4. Thread Snips
Purpose: Quick thread cutting. Features: Small size, spring-loaded design.
Thread snips, also known as thread clippers or thread nippers, are small and handy tools for quickly cutting threads and snipping small fabric pieces. They often have spring-loaded handles for easy one-handed use.
5. Paper Scissors
Purpose: Cutting patterns, paper, and non-fabric materials. Features: Separate pair to prevent dulling, sharp blades.
Paper scissors should be kept separate from fabric scissors to maintain their sharpness. They are used for cutting patterns, paper templates, and other non-fabric materials.
Maintaining and Caring for Your Sewing Scissors
Once you’ve chosen the right type of sewing scissors, it’s essential to take proper care of them to ensure their longevity and optimal performance. Here are some maintenance and care tips:
1. Regular Cleaning: After each use, wipe the blades clean with a dry cloth to remove any fabric residue or lint. For stubborn debris, use a soft brush or toothbrush to gently clean between the blades.
2. Oil the Pivot: Apply a drop of sewing machine oil or mineral oil to the pivot area regularly to keep the blades moving smoothly. Open and close the scissors several times to distribute the oil evenly.
3. Avoid Pins and Metal: Never use your sewing scissors to cut pins, needles, or any metallic objects. This can severely damage the blades and make them dull.
4. Store Properly: When not in use, store your sewing scissors in a protective case or sheath to prevent damage to the blades and to keep them away from other objects that could cause them to become blunt.
5. Sharpen as Needed: Even high-quality sewing scissors will eventually become dull with use. When you notice that they are not cutting as cleanly as before, have them professionally sharpened or invest in a quality scissor sharpener. Avoid using a regular knife sharpener, as it can damage the blades.
Additional Specialized Sewing Scissors
In addition to the primary sewing scissors mentioned earlier, there are some specialized options to consider:
1. Appliqué Scissors: These have a bent handle that allows you to trim close to the fabric without cutting the base material. They are perfect for appliqué work.
2. Buttonhole Scissors: Designed for cutting buttonholes, they have a notch on one blade that allows you to start the cut precisely.
3. Seam Ripper: While not scissors, seam rippers are indispensable tools for removing stitches. Look for ergonomic designs with sharp, durable blades.
4. Left-Handed Scissors: If you’re left-handed, consider investing in left-handed sewing scissors. They are designed with the blade orientation suitable for left-handed users.
Types of Sewing Scissors
|Type||Blade Length (inches)||Material||Purpose||Price Range ($)|
|All-Purpose||6-8||Stainless Steel||General sewing and cutting||5-15|
|Embroidery||3-4||Carbon Steel||Detail work and embroidery||7-20|
|Pinking Shears||7-9||Stainless Steel||Prevent fabric fraying||15-30|
|Tailor’s Shears||8-12||High Carbon Stainless||Cutting multiple layers||20-50|
|Thread Snippers||4-6||Stainless Steel||Precision thread cutting||5-15|
|Blade Type||Description||Best For||Example Brands|
|Straight||Standard blades for general cutting tasks.||All-purpose sewing||Fiskars, Gingher|
|Serrated||Blades with serrated edges for cutting slippery fabrics like silk.||Slippery fabrics||Kai, Havel’s|
|Micro-Serrated||Tiny serrations on the blades for extra grip on delicate fabrics.||Delicate fabrics||Karen Kay Buckley, Olfa|
|Knife-Edge||Razor-sharp blades for precise cutting and clean edges.||Accurate cutting||Wiss, Mundial|
|Duckbill||Blades with a wide, flat surface, ideal for appliqué and preventing snags.||Appliqué and fine fabrics||Havels, Clover|
|Handle Style||Description||Best For||Example Brands|
|Offset||Angled handles for comfortable, ergonomic cutting.||Reducing hand fatigue||Gingher, Heritage|
|Straight||Traditional straight handles for classic cutting.||General use||Fiskars, Singer|
|Spring-Loaded||Handles with built-in springs for reduced hand strain.||Frequent cutting||Wiss, Havel’s|
|Bent||Handles with a slight curve for precise control.||Detail work||Kai, Karen Kay Buckley|
|Ambidextrous||Handles designed for both left and right-handed users.||Versatility||Olfa, Clover|
|Keep Scissors Clean||Regularly wipe blades with a clean cloth to remove lint and fabric residue.|
|Avoid Cutting Hard Objects||Do not use sewing scissors to cut paper, plastic, or any other non-fabric materials.|
|Store Properly||Store scissors in a dedicated case or pouch to prevent damage to the blades.|
|Sharpen When Necessary||Sharpen blades when they become dull to maintain clean and precise cutting.|
|Oil the Pivot Point||Apply a drop of sewing machine oil to the pivot point to keep the scissors working smoothly.|
Budget vs. Quality
Sewing scissors are available in a wide price range. While it can be tempting to opt for budget options, investing in high-quality sewing scissors is often worth it in the long run. Quality scissors are more durable, stay sharp longer, and provide a more precise cut. If cared for properly, they can last for many years, making them a wise investment for avid sewers.
Choosing the right sewing scissors involves considering factors such as purpose, blade material, length, handle design, and balance. Once you’ve selected the appropriate scissors, taking good care of them is essential to maintain their performance. Whether you’re a seasoned seamstress or a beginner, having the right sewing scissors in your toolkit can significantly enhance the quality and efficiency of your sewing projects, making them a worthwhile addition to your sewing arsenal.