A sharp pair of sewing scissors is a key tool in any sewer’s arsenal. Hacking away at fabric with a pair of kitchen or craft scissors can cause frustrating and even costly mistakes. The difference between sewing scissors and other scissors is that sewing scissors are designed to create clean and precise cuts in fabric.
Scissors come in a variety of types, from versatile dressmaking scissors to heavy-duty tailor scissors, each with a different purpose. Consider the following options when choosing the best sewing scissors for fabric projects.
- BEST OVERALL: Kai 5210 8-inch Dressmaking Shears (N5210)
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Mr. Pen Fabric Scissors, Heavy Duty
- BEST UPGRADE: Fiskars Titanium Easy Action Scissors (No. 8), 8 Inch
- BEST DRESSMAKER: Fiskars 175800-1002 Razor-edge Softgrip Scissors
- BEST TAILOR : Proshear Professional Tailor Scissors 9 Inch
- BEST PINKING: Fiskars 8 Inch Softgrip Pinking Shears (98987097J)
- BEST SERRATED: Karen Kay Buckley 6-Inch Perfect Scissors, Blue
- MOST VERSATILE: Singer Bundle – Detail Scissors, Thread Snips, 8.5”
Types of Sewing Scissors
Each type of sewing scissors has a different purpose. Some scissors are ideal for gliding through fabric for pattern cutting, while others are used for precision work. The variety of sewing scissors you can buy reflects the wide range of fabrics available. For example, serrated scissors are ideal for slippery silks, while tailor scissors are the right pick for thick leathers. As you contemplate which sewing scissors to buy, you’ll want to research which scissors style and blade type is designed for the fabric you work with most often.
Pinking shears have saw-toothed blades instead of straight blades and leave a serrated edge on cut fabrics. These shears cut fabric in a zigzag pattern rather than a straight line, which keeps material from unraveling or fraying with wash and wear. Pinking shears are an alternative to using a serger.
Pinking shears are often used to cut woven fabrics because woven cloth with a straight, unfinished edge can easily fray. The edge left by pinking shears won’t completely stop the fabric from fraying, but the zigzag pattern means the fibers won’t unravel as easily. Pinking shears are also useful for creating decorative cuts and patterns.
Dressmaker shears are a versatile tool to have in your sewing kit because they can be used on almost all fabrics. These shears have an angled handle that allows the scissors to lay flat on the table while cutting. The angle allows the bottom blade to sit flush with your cutting surface so it can glide through fabric. You won’t have to lift the fabric far off the table surface to cut it, which makes for a more accurate snip. It is also easier to see pattern lines on flatter fabric.
Dressmaker shears are popular for a wide range of uses, one of which is cutting patterns. Because they have long blades (usually between 7 and 10 inches), it’s easy to cut swathes of material. The blades are often tapered, with one rounded and one pointed tip. The rounded tip prevents snags while cutting.
Tailor scissors are most often used to cut through thick or heavy-duty cloth. Because they are often sturdier and thicker than other sewing shears, they can handle cutting through multiple layers of fabric, or thick fabrics like leather and denim.
Tailor scissors are often used for crafts like quilting or leatherwork. They’re a great choice to have in your sewing kit if you frequently work with heavy-duty fabrics.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Sewing Scissors
Every craftsperson has his or her favorite tools, and it’s no different when it comes to sewing scissors. Sewing scissors come in a range of designs, sizes, and weights. Make sure to keep comfort and purpose in mind when choosing the right pair for you. The best sewing scissors for your kit will suit the fabrics you work with most. They should also be comfortable and easy to hold. For example, if you have smaller hands opt for shorter blades; if you’re left-handed, it is best to pick a pair designed specifically for left-handed users.
Comfort is key when choosing the best pair of sewing scissors. Many sewing projects are labors of love and can take days or weeks to finish, so it’s prudent to invest in a pair of sewing scissors that you can comfortably use on a frequent or a long-term basis.
The handle is an important feature to consider as you’re shopping for sewing scissors. Look for an ergonomic handle that will fit the contours of your dominant hand. Comfortable handles don’t just feel nice, they also allow you to make more precise cuts. This is because you’ll experience less cramping or pressure points from your scissors if you are gripping them properly. Plastic and rubber-coated handles are typically easier on hands than metal handles.
The fabric type you work with has everything to do with which scissors you should choose, because not all scissors can cut all fabrics. Dressmaking scissors will cut through most fabrics. But if you work with specific fabrics, it is helpful to find specialized scissors. For example, heavy fabrics like leather may need a tougher set of scissors. Thin, slippery fabrics like silk work best with serrated scissors. Before you shell out money for shears, think carefully about the materials you work with most frequently.
The scissors’ materials are another important consideration. Steel blades are most common because they are durable and rust resistant. There are also scissors made of strong high-carbon steel and other metal alloys.
Plastic, rubber, and metal are the most common materials for scissors’ handles. Plastic and rubber-coated handles are easier on hands and can also make scissors feel lighter. But,
handles made of these materials can feel less sturdy than metal handles. Metal handles aren’t always as comfortable as plastic or rubber ones, but metal handles are heavy, durable, and classic.
Both blade size and handle size are important factors when choosing the right pair of sewing scissors for you. Different blade lengths serve different purposes. Dressmaking shears’ blades are generally longer so they can glide through cutting patterns. On the other hand, embroidery scissors have short blades for detail work.
For a comfortable hold, choose a handle that fits the size of your hand. The right size for you will be the one that’s most comfortable and allows you to make a more precise cut. If the scissors’ handle is too large for you, you’ll have a hard time controlling them. As parents who have used their kids’ school scissors in a pinch can attest, too-small scissors can be uncomfortable to use.
Sewing scissors are usually heavier than standard multipurpose scissors. The weight of the right scissors you choose is a matter of preference. Some sewers prefer heavy scissors because they feel sturdy and stable in the hand and provide more leverage when cutting thicker materials. But because using heavy scissors can be taxing on the hand and wrist, they can be difficult to use for long periods of time.
Those who have hand injuries or conditions like arthritis often prefer lighter-weight shears because they’re less taxing on the hand and wrist; it doesn’t take as much strength to move them. Some sewers feel they have more control with lighter shears because they are easy to maneuver. Certain materials, like plastic handles, can also lighten the weight of a pair of scissors.
One of the main differences between left-handed and right-handed scissors is how the blades are oriented. Scissors are not symmetrical; the top blade is either on the right or the left side. With right-handed scissors, the top blade is on the right. This means when you cut into fabric, you can see the full cutting line. With left-handed scissors, the top blade is on the left—once again, so the cutting line is visible.
While a left-handed crafter can use right-handed scissors, it may feel uncomfortable. The view of the cutting line will also be obstructed by the blade.
Right-handed and left-handed scissors sometimes have different handle contours as well. Be sure to choose scissors specifically designed for your dominant hand. Scissors labeled “ambidextrous” are not completely ambidextrous. If you’re left-handed, choose a pair that is truly designed for left-handed crafters, with a left-sided top blade.
Our Top Picks
The best sewing scissors cut precise, crisp lines. The blades should be durable and sharp and make clean cuts even with frequent use. Their handles should be comfortable too, so you can use them for long periods of time. Overall, a high-quality pair of sewing scissors should make working with fabrics easier and more efficient. Any of these top picks would be a great addition to your sewing kit.
Don’t let the simple look of these shears fool you. The Japanese-based manufacturer has been in business for over 100 years and offers a range of hand-polished and well-balanced sewing scissors. These 8-inch dressmaking shears are a classic and versatile pick.
The hardened stainless steel blades can cut through a range of materials with ease, including multiple layers of denim. The blades are sharp all the way to the tip and give a smooth cut. The handles are ergonomic and soft for a comfortable grip. It’s hard to go wrong with these classic sewing scissors from Kai.
This pair of scissors from Mr. Pen gets the job done at an affordable price. The scissors are 9.5 inches long from blade tip to handle and are ideal for cutting swathes of fabric. The blade is made from a high-density and rust-resistant stainless steel. These sewing scissors are a solid pick for sewers, quilters, and fabric crafters.
These Mr. Pen scissors have an ergonomic soft-grip handle that allows for precise control and a comfortable grip. The handle is designed for both right-handed and left-handed users, but this pair is better suited for right-handed crafters because the top blade sits on the right side.
These accessible sewing scissors feature a spring-action design that gently opens the blades after each cut. This pair is an ideal pick for those with hand injuries, arthritis, or other hand concerns. The unique design was awarded the Arthritis Foundation Ease-of-Use Commendation.
In addition to their award-winning design, these scissors also have Fiskars’ Softgrip handle. The angled handle keeps the blade flat to your cutting surface, which means a more precise cut.
These Fiskars scissors have a high-grade stainless steel blade that cuts all the way to the tip. Another point in these scissors’ favor is the blades’ strong titanium coating, which is three times harder than steel and provides long-lasting durability and sharpness.
These 8-inch scissors from Fiskars can cut through myriad fabrics, but their razor-edge blades are particularly designed to cut through thicker fabrics like leather and denim or multiple layers of fabric at once. This pair of scissors cuts all the way to the tip, so you can make good work from each snip. Each cut leaves a clean, crisp cut with minimal effort.
The bent handle design, a hallmark of dressmaker scissors, keeps fabric flat while cutting. Fiskars’ Softgrip handle is contoured to reduce hand fatigue and will keep hands comfortable during long periods of cutting.
Proshear’s tailor scissors are as stylish as they are functional. They have ultrasharp high carbon steel blades that can cut cleanly through thick materials such as leather and denim.
These heavy-duty tailor scissors have a rounded and ergonomic rubberized handle, which won’t rub or pinch your hands while using them. The angle of the handle holds materials flat while cutting, which makes a more precise cut.
The dark high-carbon blades match the black handles for a sleek design. These scissors also come with a dual-sided measuring tape.
Much like Fiskars’ standard pinking shears, these 8-inch pinking shears cut a zigzag edge to prevent fabrics from fraying. What’s improved about this version is that it has a comfortable Softgrip handle. The Softgrip design ergonomically fits the hand, maximizing comfort, control, and sensitivity.
Fiskars’ high-grade stainless steel blades have precision-ground edges which help them stay sharp longer. These shears’ angled handle keeps fabrics flat while cutting, and the slightly extended lower blade gives just the slightest lift for a more precise cut.
Serrated scissors are ideal for slippery or delicate fabrics like silk. Fine serrations catch the fabric, gripping and holding it as they cut. These scissors can also cut without damaging the material. This micro-serrated pair from Karen Kay Buckley can also slice through up to six layers of cotton fabric. The serrated blades pull the fabric in rather than pushing it away like standard blades do.
These small scissors measure 6 inches long and are easy to toss into your sewing bag. The blue handles are comfortable to grip and give this pair a pop of color. Because the scissors have a small tip, they work well for trimming and daintier work like appliqué. They come with a plastic cover to keep them protected while storing or traveling.
This three-pack of scissors from Singer is a versatile and affordable set for your sewing kit. It includes 5-inch thread snips, 8.5-inch dressmaker scissors, and 4.5-inch detail scissors. This set can take your project from start to finish, from cutting patterns with the dressmaker shears to cleaning up threads with the thread snipper. The detail scissors are ideal for embroidery and other fabric art projects.
As part of Singer’s ProSeries line, these scissors are designed for novice to professional sewers. They feature an ergonomic, ambidextrous grip with rubberized handles for extra comfort (but note that the blade orientation is right-handed). The blades are made from tempered forged steel that is rust resistant.
FAQs About Sewing Scissors
Whether you’re choosing your first set of scissors or upgrading tools in your sewing kit, it’s important to take care of your new sewing scissors. The most important thing to remember is that you should only use sewing scissors on fabric. Frequent cleaning with a soft cloth as well as an occasional sharpening will keep your scissors in tip-top shape. Here are a few more frequently asked questions about sewing scissors.
Q. Are all scissors the same?
Not all scissors are the same. Different types of scissors serve different purposes. For example, multipurpose scissors, sewing scissors, and hair scissors are each designed for very different tasks.
Q. What is the difference between fabric and regular scissors?
Regular scissors are designed to cut through paper and other materials. Fabric scissors are designed to cut fabric, which has more “give” and resistance than many materials. Fabric scissors are very sharp and will leave a clean cut despite the resistant texture.
Q. How long do fabric scissors last?
With proper care, a quality pair of fabric scissors can last decades. It may also help to sharpen your scissors from time to time.