How to sharpen scissors and other sewing tools

How you can sharpen your own sewing scissors and other sewing supplies such as your rotary cutter and pins

Hi Vicky here.  Sharpening scissors is a subject dear to my own heart. I am not the tidiest of people so over the years I have gained a few pairs of sewing scissors (whilst the original pair were lost somewhere in the sewing room!). Everyone knows that sewing scissors should only be used for fabric but I cannot guarantee my children have not borrowed them for paper….

The end result is three pairs of dull scissors, perfect for researching how to sharpen your sewing scissors. I tried three different methods of sharpening your sewing scissors yourself at home.  How would each of these methods work out?

How to sharpen scissors

1. Cutting through foil:

Fold several layers of foil. I folded the foil so I had six layers. Cut smoothly through the foil ensuring all the blade touches the foil with each cut. Repeat several times, check sharpness of scissors and repeat if need be.

Sharpen scissor by cutting through layers of foil

2. Cutting through sandpaper:

Fold your sandpaper in half, rough sides outwards so that as you cut the rough sides meet the blades.

Sharpen scissors by cutting through sandpaper

3. Cutting through steel wool:

I used one of these pot cleaners and cut through it over and over. It was gentle enough to still sharpen but not actually cause damage and create a lot of very nasty sharp pieces of metal.  Take care if using something more harsh or metallic such as one of the older style original Brillo pads.

Sharpen scissors using steel wool

The results

I found them all equally effective, although the steel wool was decidedly messy in comparison to the other methods. Plus to my surprise all three methods dealt with the odd notch caused by accidentally cutting into pins.

Sharpening other tools

So how about your rotary cutter? Cut through layers of foil (on your cutting mat!) several times over.  Same principle as with your sewing scissors – it worked for me and certainly gave me a little extra life in an otherwise dull blade.

Sharpen your rotary cutter by citting through layers of foil

And your pins and needles? researching this post led me to Emery for pincushions.

Emery for pincushions, sharpen pins and needles

Fill your handmade pin cushion with this powdered emery to sharpen your pins as you use them.

Emery pin cushion - vickymyerscreations

If you would like to see a step by step tutorial for the emery pin cushion pop over to my blog.

How do you sharpen your sewing tools? Do you have a preferred method?

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I’m Vicky from vickymyerscreations. I learnt to sew through school, and was blessed as a child to have adults who nurtured my creativity. I love sewing, for others and for myself, and exploring other textile related crafts. See more on twitter, facebook and pinterest.

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31 Responses to How to sharpen scissors and other sewing tools

  1. Judy says:

    I used the foil sharpener for my rotary cutter, and cut very thin strips….now I’m bagging up those thin strips to use for party confetti table deco. Double bonus!!!

  2. Deborah says:

    Our family has always used the glass bottle technique. Use your scissors like you are going thecut the neck off a glass bottle..Just keep doing the scissoring action on the neck several times and then give the scissors a wipe and they will be sharp.

  3. Rose Symonette says:

    Thanks for the tip I will certainly try them, I have a few rotary blades that I was about to throw away, now I can reuse them. Thanks a lot.

  4. Lisa says:

    So far my preferred method is a professional to do it for me. I let my daughter try the foil and sand paper methods after hubby got hold of my sewing scissors and it killed them. Those scissors wouldn’t cut melted butter when she finished. I now have a new pair I keep hidden! LOL I do need to get some pin cushion sand, however.

  5. Ashley Ceasor says:

    Thank you for the tips! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Amazingly Astounding Uses for Aluminum Foil! - The Creek Line House

  7. There is another type of shears and how to sharpen them that I learned from my boss that wasn’t even mentioned, seriously – for Gingher Shears and other fine shears, use ONLY a fine Arkansas stone> Only one blade~~ This is so critical! You can purchase a fine Arkansas Stone in bait shops because fine fishermen use them to sharpen their fine hooks. And, you should not scrape blade length-wise, only using up and down movement, and only the larger of the two blades should ever be sharpened. Thank you, and I hope this helps everyone!!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Karen, thanks for the tip. No i never heard of Arkansa’s stone but if it is a proven method, why not try!

  8. Grandma Sue says:

    I sharpen my scissors with a pen-shaped, diamond grit sharpening tool. It’s rounded but has a flat side that is perfect for scissors. I wear VERY strong glasses when doing this (I’m old and can’t see for sh*t anymore) so that I can see the correct angle to “plane”. It works like a charm! Turns the blades razor sharp. It won’t do for pinking shears but for any other type it’s pefect.

  9. Rebekah says:

    I tried the foil and it made the problem worse. Then I started playing around with the tightness of the blades. First I tightened them and it didn’t help. Then I loosened them and it got a little better. I kept loosening them about a quarter turn and then testing them. When I found the right tightness, the scissors still wouldn’t cut at the last 1.5 inches of the blade. Then I tried the foil again and like magic, the scissors are as good as the day I bought them!

  10. Noooo! I tried the sand paper method and now my scissors are even MORE dull! ?

    • Katie says:

      The sandpaper must be the fine grit stuff. I really don’t remember the fineness of the grit but if you go to the hardware store just get one of the finest sheets and you won’t go wrong.

  11. geeta says:

    how to do go about sharpening a pinking shears.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      I have never done it, but i would try the first two methods, let us know what you find out.

    • Pam Kasky says:

      I was wondering the same thing geeta. I have a pair of VERY dull pinking shears and to get them professionally sharpened is as expensive as buying a new pair! I will have to try one of these methods.

  12. Dawn Roper says:

    Thank You so much I will share these helpful hints with the girls at our sewing group they will be so exited to sharpen their own scissors and cutting tools Dawn

  13. Barb Nicoll says:

    Thank you, Vicky! This was very helpful.

  14. crystal freeman says:

    remember. you can use the used rotary blades for paper projects. this works fine.

  15. Caroline Hathaway says:

    Although there are many knife sharpening tools to but at very reasonable prices, there aren’t so many readily available scissor sharpening gadgets about. I’m using one that I bought 25 years ago, but last year I bought a simple gadget in a gardening shop that sharpens all blades. I think the key is not to let your fabric scissors get too blunt.

  16. Mary Harris says:

    I will try the techniques you have suggested..

  17. Doreen S says:

    Thanks for the tips. I definitely plane on trying the one on the rotary cutter blade, after all, that have I got to lose, it is already ready to get rid of! I haven’t tried these methods but I used to use an old glass Pepsi bottle to sharpen my old scissors on. You “cut” the neck of the bottle at the top with the scissors. It worked good for my paper cutting scissors and my kids’ scissors but never tried it on my good scissors as they never need sharpening.

  18. happygirl says:

    Use full, thanks. Will definitely use the foil on my rotary blades and small utility scissors, I have few of these, but not on my fiskars!

    • Jan MacKay says:

      I always send my Ginghers in to be sharpened professionally. If you spend the $’s for a good pair of scissors than be prepared to spend an extra few $’s to keep them in good shape. My opinion for what its worth.

  19. PAYSMAGE says:

    Very helpfull ! Thank you !

  20. louise belisle says:

    Wow this is great, I live in Panama where it is impossible to find sewing tools and forget finding someone to sharpen scissors . Just saved me an internet purchase with especially high shipping fees. Going to try it out right now! Do you think this would work on zig zag scissors?

  21. I’ve used the foil on my rotary blades and it extends their use by a lot. I don’t think I’d dare try this on my good Ginghers though.

    • Janelle Thietje-Dunn says:

      I was thinking the same thing. It only costs a couple of dollars to take them to the fabric shop & to let their guy sharpen them – and he was able to grind out a really big, mysteriously begotten, notch out of my dressmaker shears. The supplies to sharpen them would cost about the same.

  22. Good to know! I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later this morning that links to your tutorial: –Anne

  23. Whollyfool says:

    That is extremely useful! Thanks!

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