Tool tips – budget or quality? Sewing scissors

Should you buy a really good pair of sewing scissors or will a budget pair perform just as well?

We’ve been looking at sewing tools recently and asking if you can get better sewing results, save time in the sewing room or just have more fun if you spend more money.  Covered so far:

Today I’m looking at another sewing essential and something you use in every single sewing and fabric project – our sewing scissors or shears. Is this an area where you get what you pay for?  Can a budget set of sewing scissors do just fine for most of us?

Sewing Scissors

I bought my first pair of sewing scissors at my local sewing shop.  Knowing how important this is for the sewing room, I bought their most expensive pair at about $35, probably worth less than $10 if I bought them in the US!  They aren’t any particular brand, just came in plain packaging. They’ve done me pretty well although there is a bit of rust on them now, and it looks as though they should have a good clean too! (Ashamed…)

sewing scissors

I do notice however when I try to clip into thick seam allowances, the fabric just bends instead of cutting sometimes.  They aren’t very sharp on the tips, so a new pair was in order.  It’s just not worth trying to find someone on the island to sharpen them. This is one place I don’t think you want to skimp, but it’s not really necessary to go top of the range unless you want to.

When it comes to sewing scissors, the top of the range can be very pricey indeed – designer limited edition scissors no less!

A good pair of scissors should last you many years, and can even be resharpened later on, so it may be better to spend now for a nice set, than to buy a budget pair and only have to replace them within a few years like mine.

Kai scissors

Just as I was mulling over which ones to buy, I went to the Sewing Holiday event in the US and in my goodie bag – a pair of KAI Scissors.  Hallelujah!  So I was able to upgrade to some very nice quality sewing scissors for (sort of) free.  I have the Kai 5210 with the 8 inch length.  Highly recommended.  You can get them at Amazon USA and Amazon UK.

sewing scissors

Is it worth the upgrade?  Unreservedly YES.  These scissors cut through fabric like a hot knife through soft butter.  These are so nice that I actually put them back in the packaging at the end of each day.  It also helps to prevent unwanted or ‘accidental’ use by any other household member who is looking to cut mosquito netting again or use them to strip wire. (Yes Nigel I mean you.)

They might look similar, but the Kai scissors are far better than my originals ever were.

Gingher scissors

Other Scissors you might consider that have a very good reputation are Ginghers.  They do a standard range but also a very popular designer range too. I’ve seen some ‘collectible’ Ginghers on sale at $200-250, so if that’s in your budget, enjoy!  You can get all sorts of fun designs on the handles as well as a smart looking shiny gold handled pair too.

Gingher sewing scissors

I’ve never used any so I can’t comment on them personally, but I do see in our chat group that members are delighted with theirs.  On sale on Amazon and Craftsy. Look out for a good coupon at JoAnn and get your new Gingher shears at 50-60% off on sale! This is the JoAnn Fabrics coupon page.

So tell me about your sewing scissors.  Do you still have your original pair?  What brand do you love?  Have you ever had them sharpened?

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62 Responses to Tool tips – budget or quality? Sewing scissors

  1. Becky taylor says:

    I used Gingher scissors for years until I came across KAI ones…Love love them. I have 3 pair. They are a lot lighter weight that the Ginghers and boy!! are they sharp. I still use the Ginghers. They are good scissors also

  2. Stitchwiz says:

    Scissors are the first critical piece of equipment that we use when we sew.
    Many years ago my mom’s shears were knocked onto the floor by my rambunctious brothers – a tip was broken off. She was devastated. They were an Italian pair of tailor’s shears with a 13” cutting edge. And they were irreplaceable – until last year. An American tailor arranged to have tailor’s shears made at the original Italian factory using the same moulds that were used over 35 years ago. He had 150 pairs made and I purchased a pair from the first ‘new’ run – I have #12. The factory shared photos of the first blanks being poured and of the whole manufacturing process. It was fascinating! And they are gorgeous! They cut like a hot knife through butter. When cutting. there is a sound that they make which is truly unique.
    I have this fabulous pair of shears that are identical to the pair that I first started to sew with almost 55 years ago. I was still a child, but those shears were such a joy to use that the weight of them didn’t bother me – I just used two hands to control them until my hands grew enough to cut with one hand. The new pair are exactly the same, right down to the weight, which is now too much for me. The problem I have is that just after they were ordered, I had an accident where my shoulder/rotator cuff ligaments etc., were badly damaged. I’ve done all of the physio, now I have to move on. So I have a beautiful pair of tailor’s shears, with a fabulous story, which are waiting for a grandchild who loves to sew, who will use them with love and respect, and appreciate them for being the gorgeous tool that they are.

    The moral of the story is this: Protect your tools, especially your scissors and shears. Have a safe place to keep them and put them back every time you put them down.
    I have a very heavy glazed pot with a piece of cork glued to the bottom so that it does not scratch any of my cutting surfaces. The cork also prevents it from sliding too easily – I make sure the pot is away from any edges so it doesn’t get knocked over. There is a well-padded piece of Persian lambskin in the bottom to protect my fine pointed scissors as I put them into it, with the handles up. I have used this same container for over 30 years to hold 14 pairs of scissors of every size and shape – not a single bit of damage to any of them. When you have a system figured out, it will become automatic to reach for the right tools when you need them and to put them away every time. It’s a matter of training yourself.
    I have several Ginghers, Fiskars and numerous others, but my favourite pair of fabric scissors is a no-name pair that I bought at a yard sale of surplus office supplies! I bought 6 pairs at $1 each and gave each child a pair for use at school. After I used them the first time, I told them to take care of the best scissors that I would ever give them. And they have. It has been almost 25 years and each pair is still as sharp as the day they were made. They cut just a nicely as the shears, without the weight, and make a similar sound to the tailor’s shears. Love that sound…
    I made sure that I kept my scissors hidden whenever we had helpers in the house – with decoy scissors left out for those inevitable emergencies when someone needs a pair of scissors.
    I love the idea of pad-locking a pair of favourite scissors – however we have bolt cutters in the workshop, and I’m sure that the lock wouldn’t last if someone really wanted a pair of scissors…but I am sure that the bolt cutters could cut fingers off a lot easier than a padlock….Hmmm, I’m sure that a picture of the bolt cutters with the scissors would be a good reminder to leave the scissors alone – maybe a tag on the handles…
    Seriously, though, if you look after them, they will give you years of use.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Thanks so much for passing on those stories. Any chance you could share a short article with photos of the tailor’s shears with the group? What you’ve already written is nearly enough, just need the photos. I’m sure our readers will be as fascinated as I was to learn about it.

What do you think?