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 an 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 of course.

Also, 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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Anne Henry
Anne Henry

Can anyone tell me if they have ever been able to find small pinking shears (zig zag) Ideal for trimming edges of gingerbread dolls

Mea Cadwell
Mea Cadwell

I have my grandmother’s all metal scissors but they’re too blunt to be used and I haven’t taken them anywhere to be sharpened. Can’t remember the brand but, once sharpened, they’ll be as good as new.

Otherwise, I have rheumatoid arthritis and have found I need lighter weight ones anyway. Fisker’s spring-loaded ones are great for the hands but don’t cut the best. I do like their titanium blade scissors and they’re affordable, which is good because they don’t last forever and need to be replaced about every 2 years.

I haven’t tried Kai scissors but would like to.

I recently purchased Karen Buckley’s Perfect Scissors with the serrated blades and they’ve been a tremendous help with cutting and the fabric staying put instead of the action of the closing blades pushing the fabric away from the hinge. But I’m not a fan of the handles – they seem cheaper in comparision to other scissors I’ve used.

The hunt for the ‘perfect’ scissors is just one of a multitude of hobbies one acquires when one starts to sew.

Anna-Beth Meyer-Graham
Anna-Beth Meyer-Graham

I managed a busy fabric store for years and have been quilting and sewing for about twenty years, so I have handled a LOT of scissors.

I have owned most brands of “good” fabric scissors, and I would pick Kai’s rubber handled, 9″ shears all day every day. Ginghers are far less comfortable in the hand, with their smaller handles that are slick and slippy. These Kais usually retail for about $25.

We had all the brands available at the fabric store, and all of us preferred Kai and would quickly switch if we found Ginghers at our cutting station. Some of my coworkers preferred the Kai Professional, which are much more expensive and heavy. But really, I cannot say enough, the Kai scissors you got are the best, if not the size I prefer.

Linda G
Linda G

I have found it to nearly always be worth the extra money to buy the absolute best quality fabric and sewing scissors I can afford, even if it means scrimping elsewhere for a bit. Though, spending more money for fancy decoration isn’t really investing in the scissor’s quality (not that I have anything against having a little “bling”).

I’ve used Gingher, knife-edge scissors for cutting fabric for decades, the same 2 pair. I have 2 pair so that when one pair is out to be sharpened, I still have a good pair to continue working. I used Gingher all-metal thread snips until the spring wore out and I had to replace them. Nothing else matches the weight and feel of the all steel tool while working. They were also sharpened several times. I have a small pair of Gingher scissors, usually called embroidery or sewing scissors that are good for small cutting jobs. My Gingher pinking shears are admittedly heavy, but they cut cleanly every time. When possible, I store them in the blade-protecting sheaths, but I use them so much, they’re rarely stored. I used these tools regularly as a professional, but would feel compromised to use lesser quality at home.

While Fiskars also makes some quality scissors and cutting tools, I have found them to be a little less reliable, although they are lighter to work with if you have arthritic or easily tired hands. Their spring-action scissors have benefits, too, although I have found them to be erratic in the spring functions on some models, sometimes to the point of not working. My Fiskars pinking shears are much lighter than the Ginghers, so, as I’ve gotten older, they have been my go-to pinkers as they are easier on my arthritic fingers. The cut isn’t always as nice as the Ginghers, and they balk at really thick fabrics, but it is acceptable. I’ve also used Fiskars for years, but recommend buying the higher-end models if you want to keep using them on fabric for a lifetime. Their knife-edge scissors are pleasantly light and can be sharpened when necessary.

Investing in good quality tools is an investment in making your work and life easier, no matter whether it is your profession, a necessity, or a hobby. Get scissors that feel good in your hands when in use. Don’t scrimp on sharpening and care, either. Take them to a professional, especially if they have micro-serrations on the edge, as with some newer scissors.

And, have several pairs of lesser scissors available for the paper, plastic cord, metal wire, and other hobby or everyday cutting, stowed in easily accessible places for the rest of the household!

Mayra Cecilia
Noble Member
Reply to  Linda G

I do hope everyone reads your comment. Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion. kind Regards,

Sally East
Sally East

Karen Little you have answered a few questions for me. I also deal with the arthritis issue and got those spring loaded Fiskars as soon as they came out. They were a miracle for me. But I do still have my original pair of lightweight shears which are at least 35 years old. I also have my grandmother’s Gingher pinking shears that must be over 60 years old. My family always stressed buy quality and buy it once and I have tended to follow that line. However the Fiskar snippers mentioned by Karen have been calling my name lately and now I feel sure they’ll make a great stocking stuffer for me. Thanks Karen for sharing you experience s.

Meg Heard
Meg Heard

I really like your site, thanks for all the tips and patterns. Its nice to know that there are others like me out there. 🙂

Scissor Q? This is an easy answer…Gingher. I am 43 and was still using my late grandmother’s until last year when my mom (who is still using her Ginghers going on probably 35 years) bought me my very first non hand-me-down super shiny gold handled 8″ Gingher knife edge scissors. I cried. I am tearing up even now thinking about it. Best ever and really not expensive at all when you consider how long they last–NO wire stripping!! That story broke my heart a little. I would probably be in jail if I caught my honey even looking like he was about to use mine for anything. Easy rule to follow, if you don’t sew, NEVER EVER touch the good scissors, if you do sew, then you understand.

P.S. Fiskars are also good, I use several types of their small snips and love them. They do wear out though. Have a new pair on my xmas list already…

Mayra Cecilia
Noble Member
Reply to  Meg Heard

Great present! I do have a pair of Gingher that I used since my school days, love them…still.