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A Handy Guide to the Best Scissors for Sewing

As any artisan or craftsman knows, having the right tools is critical. For sewers, that means having the best scissors and shears at the ready to handle the task at hand.

There’s no question investing in high quality scissors makes sewing more efficient. But, sewing involves lots of different tasks and using a wide variety of materials. While a good pair of high quality dressmaker shears is enough to handle most fabric cutting tasks, the notions walls are filled with many new and exciting cutting tools for sewing tailored to handle specific tasks and materials.

Are your scissors good enough and what else it out there that can make sewing faster and easier? Let’s explore…

scissors and shears

High quality shears & scissors makes sewing efficient

Many advances have been made when it comes to sewing scissors that can handle a wide and varied range of fabrics, specific cutting demands and are more comfortable to use. Many come with names that can be a bit overwhelming, sometimes making it hard to figure out which pair is right for you.

So, let’s take a look at what some of those terms and model names mean and why they are worth the investment.

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Scissors vs. shears: what’s the difference?

Before delving in, do you know the difference between scissors and shears? Yes, they are different and for sewing, both have a place in your toolkit.

It is the length of the blades and the shape of the handles that distinguishes scissors from shears. Scissors typically have blades that are 6” long or shorter, while shears have blades that are 7” and greater. Scissors also have handles that are equally shaped. Shears, on the other hand, have one small handle for the thumb and another larger handle for two or more fingers. This allows the hand to manage the cutting better, which makes for more precise cuts. Furthermore, they are more comfortable to hold. Shears are also often characterized by handles that are bent to facilitate cutting fabric on a flat surface – an important and useful feature.

It is always wise to invest in high quality scissors.

Spend as much as you can possibly afford because here price equals quality, so the more you spend, the better the cut. They will perform better than any cheap pair you buy. No one should have to struggle to cut through a piece of fabric. If that’s the case, your scissors are simply not up to the task. Bear in mind that a good pair of scissors will last you a lifetime so if you take care of them, in the end the cost is relatively minimal.

What are the top brands?

The top three brands that are the most widely available are Fiskars, Gingher and Kai. All are exceptional brands that produce high quality scissors and shears.

Below we cover how they differ, as well as some of the terms they use to market special features and attributes to help you decide which ones are right for you.

Fiskars

The brand Fiskars offers the widest range of price points from very inexpensive to relatively high priced. They offer the widest assortment of cutting tools that go well beyond sewing, quilting or embroidery, and are a leading in quality scissors.

Generally speaking, stick with their more expensive models, which are the most reliable in terms of performance. Their inexpensive models are designed for those who are cost conscious, but frankly they do no hold up to most cutting tasks as well as the more expensive models.

Here is a brief explanation of some of their special brands within their offering.

Amplify Shears

This is a line of shears designed by the brand to handle cutting through thick materials. Cutting thick fabrics is often when most regular scissors are simply not up to the task and don’t perform very well. This special line is designed to automatically sense when the blades begin to separate and then adjust to the fabric’s thickness so they cut through with ease. They come in a variety of sizes to handle all types of sewing tasks. These are a great supplemental shear to have on hand if you craft and sew a lot.

Fiskars 8 Inch Softgrip Pinking Scissor

Fiskars 8 Inch Softgrip Pinking Scissor

Softgrip

Fiskars Softgrip are the company’s models that feature padded handles. The cushioned padding makes them more comfortable to hold and help deliver better control when cutting.

Razor Sharp

Razor Sharp refers to the brands blade quality. These are Fiskars sharpest blades. Any of their models that feature this name will produce the best cuts, which is good to know when selecting just one pair for fabric cutting.

Fiskars Easy Action Bent Scissors No. 8

Fiskars Easy Action Bent Scissors No. 8

Easy Action

The Easy Action line of scissors is designed to be the most comfortable scissors to hold and cut. They are especially good for those suffering with arthritis or have limited hand strength. These scissors feature a spring-action design that gently opens the blades after each cut to reduce hand strain. This feature is available on a wide variety of models.

Gingher Knife Edge Dressmaker Shears

Gingher Knife Edge Dressmaker Shears

Gingher

Another brand that offers very high quality cutting tools for sewing is Gingher. All of their models perform exceptionally well and are the most traditional in both style and design.

Unlike Fiskars that offers an exceptionally wide range of styles for all types of cutting needs, Gingher’s line is much more limited. They offer styles designed almost exclusively for just sewing, quilting and embroidery needs, so there are fewer models to sift through when deciding to buy. Nonetheless, all are very good and well worth the investment.

Gingher scissors

Traditional Gingher models feature the brand’s characteristic silver or gold handles, which come in a wide range of blade lengths, in scissors and shears and in bent handle styles as well.

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

Gingher also offers a line of small scissors in varying styles for small tasks and a line of thread cutters that are the sharpest around.

Kai

Kai is another brand of high quality scissors designed almost exclusively for sewing and quilting. Made in Japan, they feature blades made of stainless steel and vanadium – an additive that makes steel exceptionally strong. Like Gingher, their collection is somewhat limited but again all very good quality.

The offer two lines or levels of performance:

  • Their 5000 series of scissors. These include a range of both scissor and shears with soft ergonomic handles along with several bent handle versions.
  • Their 7000 professional series is designed for the experienced sewer that sews extensively and demands the best. Scissors in this series have blades as long as 12 inches and price points exceed both Gingher and Fiskars offerings.

Other cutting tools to consider

There are two other types of scissors that have a place in most sewer’s toolkits: pinking shears and serrated scissors.

In the old days before sergers became so popular, seams were finished with pinking shears. Cutting the edges with a pair of those prevented raw seam edges from fraying so much. Today, they certainly can be used in that way as well, but pinking shears are also great alternative to trimming and clipping curves. The V-cuts simulate the same trim and clip effect that is faster and easier to do.

pinking shears

The other important type of scissor to know are those with serrated edge blades. These are simply wonderful for cutting slippery or delicate fabrics that can easily shift and move about when cutting. The serrated edges help to grip the fabric making it more stable when cutting.

serrated edge shears

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23 Comments

Debra Lawhon

What about left-handed vs right-handed users. Do these companies make left-handed scissors.

Reply
Nannette

Thank you. It is appreciated to hear what works and is available to us.

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Cheryl

For the lefties out there: Gingher only makes them in the heavy metal version which is hard on the hands (and hard to find even if you wanted them). Fiskars makes one pair, but at least they came out with the easy action scissors, which are ambidextrous. Kai has the best pair (they make two – make sure to get the N5220L.

Reply
Pencil point

Leftie Ginghers are not hard to find, they are sold on Amazon. I’ve been using them exclusively for my sewing for over 30 years. Ambi scissors don’t really work that well.

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Martha

Honestly there really are no ambidextrous scissors. The ones that claim to be are actually right handed scissors made to “fit” lefties. If you want left-handed scissors buy left-handed scissors. You’ll be so happy you did

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Rose

I have several pairs of Mundial left-handed scissors, which look to be much like the Gingher scissors – I love them.

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Lisa M Cole

My preference is gingher. I love to embroider and cross stitch. I have at least 3 pairs of embroidery scissors. I also have a large pair of shears for fabric cutting as well as an embroidery scissors for machine embroidery. To me they are the best, the cost is secondary to these quality instruments. Do yourself a favor get gingher. I am not so impressed with fiskers.

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Jill

I love Gingher shears, both the knife edge and serrated, their small embroidery scissors are so sharp the thread is usually cut before I close the blades. Their thread nips are fantastic. They even offer an ergonomic seam ripper, which is a dream to use in some very specific types of seams.

Kai makes the best pinking shear I’ve found. They are frustration free, even on thicker fabrics. Expensive but worth the price in aggravation saved.

Mundial has a good reputation also. Everyone has their “own” brand. It’s just a matter of trying them.

Btw, Gingher does offer left handed shears; if they’re not available in your local store you can buy them online from Gingher or a good sewing supply website.

Thank you for the very informative post.

Reply
Alice Brown

Gingher seems to have discontinued their ergonomic seam ripper. 🙁

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Chris

Great article but how about a how to care for your scissors article.

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Juanita

Ye- more specifically how to sharpen your own pair. I own a left handed Gingher my sister gave me over 20 years ago. It lives in its original box when not in use. It also contains a tiny instructional booklet with black and white photo on how to sharpen your scissors periodically. It calls for a specific kind of Arkansas sharpening stone. A tutorial on sharpening would be very helpful.

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Angie

I’m trying to build my arsenal to start sewing- I saw a pair of KAI serrated scissors. Could these be all-purpose, or do I need regular shears also?

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HILARY wYATT

I not?ice that the scissors are described as left handed…I am right handed….which one do I buy

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Robb

I’m surprised that Wiss is not mentioned at all. I have some Wiss scissors and shears that have been used constantly in a sewing kit. Most of them were my mother’s mother’s, some even her mother’s. None of them can be younger than 50 years old. Some probably in the 70-100 years old. We have never sharpened them, and they are still razor sharp. We’ve cut everything from heavy leather to putting an angle on a fine thread. People rave about Fiskars, but I’ve found them to be far sub-par to my Wisses.

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Rodrigo

I had just found this article. I just buyed a pair of 9″carbon Steel (not stainles steel) German schears for tailor, They are extremely robust and make a super smooth and fine job. The old lady who attend to me was so nice to explain me all her “knowhow” about it and why I should invest how much I can for a pair of them. Carbon Steel can rust but is a life time sharpness steel and if you take care of them they could be there for a next civilization. Liebe Grüße!

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Julie

Hi I bought some pinking shears and when I looked properly they are scalloped edge not zig zag does this mean they’re useless ?

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Carol

I’m looking for left-handed pinking shears. I notice that the ones they call ambidextrous still have the blade that’s operated by the left thumb on the left side. This puts the top cutting blade on the right, obscuring your view of the fabric (since we lefties are viewing the cutting action from the right side of the shears. So, sure, that’s better…but not truly left-handed. Does anyone make truly left-handed, decent quality pinking shears?

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Amanda

This is a left handed place that sells one of the best range of true LH scissors, shears and YES pinking shears. They are so old fashioned they don’t even do internet shopping, but old fashioned ordering, they ard also in AUSTRALIA so not sure what postage would be like:
http://www.andersonlefthandside.com.au/scissors/dressmaking.htm.

The other option I’m looking into is the left handed rotary cutter (they DO exist) which takes a pinking blade….just haven’t found it yet…not that I can get in Australia anyway…

Good luck with your search . I’d be interested in your find/s.

Reply
Art Van Hecke

The shearing action of pinking shears is in a plane that is not affected by the natural action of the hand tensioning the blades against each other, so if properly made, you can use them with either hand.

Reply
a tailor

a tailor

The largest left handed shear in production today
is the Wiss ten inch bent trimmer.
about 35.00

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Jackie rosen

I have a project that requires cutting Denim jeans. I’ve already been through two electric scissors and 2-3 pairs of inexpensive fiscars.

I’m left handed and I’m ready to invest whatever it costs to do away with the stress!

Any recommendations will be so appreciated. Denim is the only fabric I will be cutting. They need to be SHARP

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P.Aalders

I am looping for a double bend 4 inch big handle Gingher scissor. Where can i buy Thaise scissors?

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Sue

Many people hold their shears incorrectly. On most good shears the large handle is ergonomically shaped to hold the thumb along its length. That blade is usually rounded or angled so that it can glide along and not catch the cutting surface below. The top blade is pointy and the smaller handle should accommodate two fingers. Try it, it’s very comfortable.

Reply

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