7 Types of Scissors for Sewing That You Must Have

Types of Scissors for Sewing

Are you wondering why there are so many scissors of various sizes and sharps at your local craft or sewing store? Do you ask yourself which ones you really need and which ones you can live without?  Is buying an expensive pair a good choice or is having lots of cheaper ones a better option?

I have made a list of my most-loved scissors that were part of my sewing journey for many, many years.  Here are the seven types of scissors that every sewist must-have.  I've tried to order them in order of relative importance to the sewing task.

We re-posted a contributor article recently that talked about how to sharpen scissors.  The topic sparked a lot of comments and even controversy so I thought it would be useful to write a bit more about sewing scissors and how you can use them.

Dressmaker Shears

Purchase dressmaker shears if you are planning to buy only one pair of scissors for sewing. You can use these for cutting different kinds of fabric with ease and would surely satisfy your sewing needs.  Keep them sharp and look after them and they will look after you.  Having dull scissors will give you only frustrations.

You should generally try to buy the best (generally that means most expensive sadly) dressmaker shears that you can afford.  These are going to be your main tool in this sewing journey.  Often, the better they are, the heavier they are going to be.  You can read more about whether you should go for budget or quality sewing scissors here.

You will find that you will likely become very protective of your best sewing scissors.  And no, you really, really shouldn't cut paper with them!

Small Sharp Scissors

When you are fond of quilting, I recommend these OLFA scissors. These can also be used for trimming threads and cutting your favorite appliqués because of their super sharp edges. Someone gave me these scissors as a birthday present and been using it for several years. And guess what?  These little beauties have stayed super sharp for years now.

Paper Scissors

These are scissors intended to be used for paper only and they are a “must-have” in your collection. They are best to use in cutting paper sewing patterns, paper interfacing, and much more. Having these have obviously saved my most-loved dressmaker shears from becoming dull. To distinguish them, I bought paper scissors in different colors so I can identify them quickly and will not mix with my other kinds of scissors.

These are the ones you can sometimes let your loved ones use so they don't feel too left out..

Small Embroidery Scissors

These type of scissors is made for embroidery, but you will find they are useful when you are hand stitching and can be considered as great thread clippers. With their perfect size, you can always take them with you on the go.

Pinking Shears

When working with laminate fabrics or oilcloth, my best choice is pinking shears. Using pinking shears will keep the fabric in your sewing project from fraying. Thus, it is best to have them when you don’t have a serger available or can’t find a way to finish your seams.

Lightweight Shears

These lightweight shears are one of my favorites aside from my dressmaker shears because of its lighter weight. I consider using these when my hands are sore from sewing so I can still continue with my project with ease. These are easier to carry and can be a great option when you are sewing away from your home.

Spring Mounted Shears

Here’s a solution for those sewists whose hands become fatigued easily or for those who have arthritis… the spring mounted shears.  They are easy to open and close because of their default position (which is “open”) and spring action. I love having this type of scissors, especially when doing a big project.

How about you?  Do you have a favorite pair of sewing scissors?  Let me know in the comments section!

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52 Responses to 7 Types of Scissors for Sewing That You Must Have

  1. Irene Carson says:

    Thank you for that! I also have these two very useful pairs in my arsenal: 1) Serrated scissors: I did not even know they existed until my local sewing machine store mentioned that they were excellent for cutting delicate fabric as the teeth grip the fabric. 2) Buttonhole scissors: Exactly as the name suggests. Precise, measured cuts, as long as the buttonhole is near the edge of the project for access.

  2. Linda Ross says:

    I also love my duckbill scissors. They are sold as embroidery scissors but I use them all the time especially when I am trimming a close seam and don’t want to cut my garment!! I see them at Amazon for $13.99

  3. Linda says:

    Hi – I could not get the link for the paper scissors to open. Get error message page can not be found. Thanks for posting on this subject. I have been on the hunt for some new fabric scissors. And thought it would be fun to get some paper scissors as well, since you mention they come in colors.

  4. M-C says:

    This is really not helpful for beginners. All you really need is dressmaker shears. Small snips are useful to snip threads, pinking shears are useful only if you sew with wovens a lot, you most likely already have paper scissors, the rest are sheer froof. Of course you can accumulate enormous amounts of gear, but then the end game is no longer sewing

    • Cheryl says:

      100% Agree. I’ve been sewing for 40+ years. Shirts, dresses, quilting, mending, etc. I have multiple scissors. Use my spring mounted shears and my snips primarily. Rarely (as in years) use my other scissors. But I do have a few pair of snips for convenience sake. I like to keep a pair near each of my machines and 1 next to my hand sewing supplies.

      Beginners, invest in a good pair of scissors that are comfortable with and keep them in good condition. I kept mine away from everyone. Dull shears are frustrating to use.

  5. Aless says:

    Apart from a big collection of scissors [some of them self-chosen gifts 😉 ], I asked my family to chip in for electric scissors some ten years ago.They have a rechargeable battery, but I keep forgetting to recharge it……..I think I’m a creature of habit, because, despite having severe finger arthritis,esp. in my lowest thumb joints, I reach for the same scissors I’ve had for 35+ years- Wiltshire Staysharps (same type of sharpening cassette system as the knives).

  6. Karen says:

    I have way more than 7 scissors for sewing. I shared all mine with the family but they knew if they were not cutting fabric they had to use the one with orange handles.

  7. Maggie says:

    Fiskars used to make left-hand pinking sheers I think, don’t know if they still do.

  8. Marlene says:

    Is there such a thing as pinking shears for left-handers?

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Marlene, most seem to be ambidextrous. If left-handed pinking shears exist, they are pretty rare. Perhaps some other readers have seen them?

      • Joan Dunton says:

        Gingher sold them years ago I bought a pair

      • Linda R says:

        I have a wonderful pair of left-handed pinking shears. I got them from KAI (www.kai.com) They are pricey but worth it. A couple times a year they have a 20% off sale but you need to sign up for their mailing list.

    • Kat says:

      I love using an Olfa cutting wheel the most, but a heavy duty scissors is still a must for every project I make.

    • Linda R says:

      Marlene, I am left handed and the best left-handed pinking shears are from KAI. They are a bit pricey but if you sign up for their mailing list, they have a 20% off sale a couple of times a year.

  9. ruby newman says:

    You would not believe how many pairs of scissors I have and love them all. Very often pretty catches my eye, or even an unusual shape – yes there are some, I have them – I have a tiny fold up pair in handbag with a blade size of about one inch and yes they work on a lot of stuff. As for keeping my ‘good’ scissors away from the world (well husband really) I knot a scrap of ribbon or fabric to the handle which means death to anyone caught with these scissors and no sewing needle. lol

  10. Marmaladesandwich says:

    I have various pairs- but since I discovered rotary cutters- I use them all the time. I find I can be more precise- as my hands are small and shears are harder to manage. When I found I could get pinking cutters for my rotary- it was heaven! I still use my small sharps for clipping etc – of course. 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      I’ve never heard of pinking blades for rotary cutters. Thank you for sharing that!

      • Marmaladesandwich says:

        You’re welcome! If you search Fiskars rotary pinking blades on Amazon. There are some on Ebay -but I never tried them there yet. I got a new overlocker for xmas because I hate finishing raw edges- but prefer pinking cotton clothes for little ones.

    • Christina Murphy says:

      I bought the pinking blade for my rotary cutter. I replaced the regular bladewith the pinking blade, but the pinking blade wobbles. Should it do that?

      • Marmaladesandwich says:

        Mine don’t wobble- are your blades for the same size/model of cutter? It sounds like they are slightly large, perhaps?

  11. Barbara says:

    I have a pair of small scissor that are used to remove surgical stitches one blade is narrow and pointy the other is wider with a talon like hook on the end. Can’t see without it

    • Lynda Woerner says:

      I also have a serious scissors habit. I have at least two dozen pairs, mostly Kai. Kai scissors are the best. I have sizes from snips to 9” shears; smooth bladed, micro-serrated, regular and professional choices in my collection. I use a pair of Kai professional embroidery scissors for all of my paper fussy cutting. I also buy knives from Kai – they have Shun knives, which are lovely. Kai sharpens their scissors and knives, just contact them through the website. They also sell some lefty and several true lefty scissors.

  12. Agnes SCheuermann says:

    I cannot figure out how to download patterns

    • So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Agnes, there aren’t any patterns associated with this particular post. Which one(s) are you having problems with?

  13. Karen says:

    Thank you for the very useful article. I have arthritis in my hands and a couple trigger fingers. I plan on having the operation on the fingers as soon as I am completely healed from my hip replacement. The scissors you mentioned for arthritic hands sounds like they are ones I could use now.

  14. Katie Herrick says:

    I need to add a pair of the Gingher spring loaded to my collection. I have a Fiskars pair, but not a huge fan of Fiskars scissors.

  15. Ruth says:

    I have a drawer full of scissors and snips. My very favorite I do not use. They need to be sharpened and the screw is loose. They are Wiss and belonged to my grandma who died in 1962 at the age of 73.

  16. Shirley says:

    If you own Gingher knife-edge scissors, you can sharpen them yourself or mail in to have them sharpened/repaired. Check out the info here: http://www.gingher.us/Gingher_Maintenance.html

  17. Ingrid Slater says:

    I have bought a pair of “duckbill” scissors – wonderful. I only wish I had known about these scissors years ago.

  18. kaidydid says:

    I think I have a serious scissor addiction. I have Gingher8″ dress makers and then a 8″ dress makers in Designer Series Katelyn ( I would love to have that whole set). Then I have Ginger 7″ knife edge, 5″ knife edge, a 4″knife edge and a 4″ Designer Series Sarah ( I would love that set also. I also have a designer series embroidery plus 2 more embroidery. I have a curved pair at one machine also. Just to let you know they were gifts, I only bought the 7″.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Wow! what can I say? I am impressed with your collection.

      • kaidydid says:

        I do want the spring loaded, they are on my bucket list. I do need them for my hands now but I love my collection and thankful for all the people that bought them as gifts for me.

  19. Kat Brown says:

    Good article. Thank you. I have three pairs of shears that I take turns using. I have my spring loaded Ginghers that came in a silver tin box with a felt liner. Every time I open that box, I hears choirs of angles singing and sunshine rays coming out of that little tin piece of joy. I feel like they are my Holy Grail of Scissors. But they are heavy, so I also use Fiskars. I also have a pair of dressmaking shears from Cutco. They don’t make these any more, They are very pretty with light blue, almost opaque handles. Those are mostly for show. All my scissors bring me tons of joy. I recently found out about the scissor sharpening service at Joann’s. I will be taking all my scissors for sharpening.

  20. Waco Bayless says:

    I’m just wondering, why are the embroidery scissors so expensive?

  21. I was in a hardware shop with my husband one day and happened to notice a pair of Olfa scissors – they are serrated with a curious flat tip and BIG handles. Out of curiosity I picked up a pair and you know they are my absolute favourite scissors. I went back and bought 2 more – I have one at each machine for quickly cutting and trimming anything. They are always sharp, comfortable in my hand – amazing scissors.

  22. Kathy says:

    I have a number of scissors. Most all Ginghers. My dressmakers are engraved and were a gift from my Mom, for high school graduation 34 years ago. As well as a tiny pair of snipers and a little larger pair. Got a small pair of KAI this year at Sew Expo in Washington state for use on my longarm and they’re ok. Very sharp but just don’t care for the plastic thumb grips.

    Contact a hair salon or dog grooming business as they always have good contacts for scissor sharpeners. Any of them that sharpen hair scissors should be able to sharpen sewing scissors.

  23. I love my little Gingher snips and use them so much! I was also wondering where to get my shears sharpened?

  24. Cheryl Jass says:

    Because of my arthritis, I use the Fiscars scissors that are spring loaded and have handles like hedge trimmers. Saves my thumbs and they work great. Thanks for your article. It was very useful.

  25. Maire Roberson says:

    I would be lost without my snips! I got them for my first assistant design job – they desperately need a sharpening…but I cannot part with them!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI Maire, I totally understand your attachment 🙂

    • Debra J. Belich says:

      In the town I live in there is a gentleman that comes into the Jo Ann Frabic & Crafts and he sharpens everything from scissors to lawn mower blades. When you are in your local Jo Ann ask if they have such a service.

  26. Janice says:

    Informative, I never thought of alternatives to the basic heavy shear. I will now.

  27. Marty says:

    Also love the ‘duckbill’ for cutting applique edges 🙂

  28. Glenda Webb says:

    I look at my shears as an investment. Any craftsperson needs the proper tools to do the best job.

    You can often get Gingher shears on sale at JoAnn’s Fabrics.

    In my sewing room, I have a sign above my scissors that says “Touch my Scissors and Die” My family knows that these are not to be used for anything but sewing projects.

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