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

  1. Karen Little says:

    For many years I used whatever scissors my Mom had in her sewing box. After I married, my husband gave me a beautiful pair of Ginghers — I was so very happy. They were indeed the best scissors I have ever used. Somewhere along the way in a multitude of moves, my Ginghers went missing 🙁 Then I found “Fiskars” spring loaded shears! Wow! The first pair came along shortly after I was diagnosed with RA — that is all I have used since. I am thankful that I am a “righty” as I know left handed shears are very hard to get sharpened. I find that my Fiskars last a couple of years before I have to have them sharpened. Although I use my (Fiskars) rotary cutter for most of my cutting now (anything that has a long straight cut!) and I use my Fiskars for finer cutting. I do both quilting and apparel sewing so need a good pair of shears as well as the rotary cutter. I am now 71 and although I grieved the loss of my Ginghers, I doubt that my hands could handle them anymore. They are heavy! I have always marked my sewing shears and kept them in my “Sewing area” — at times that has been a corner of a room, other times it has been a whole room. Anyone who came to my home was informed that if they touched my sewing scissors and cut anything but fabric with them they might as well run away from home! Otherwise I would be beating on their body! I haven’t had a problem, but then I am extremely careful to have my sewing scissors kept in a box in my sewing area and always have several pairs of “everyday” scissors scattered in various places in the house! It has worked quite well. My son is left handed and when he took sewing classes in Grades 7 and 8 I bought him a good left-handed pair of scissors. He has treated them with respect for the last 25 years and still has them. They have not been used to cut anything but fabric 🙂 He learned well! He hs taught his wife that sewing shears are just that — for sewing! She now has the same attitude towards this “tool”. I also use Fiskars snippers — they have good sharp blades so I can clip areas on apparel that need snipping. I find that I have far greater control using them then my large Fiskars shears.

  2. Vlierbloesem says:

    My great grandmother had a large pair of tailors scissors. inherited by my grandmother and later my mother. I was never allowed to use it.

    I bought my own expensive pair from a sewingmachine shop, but it never was any good. From a marked seller I bought a small electric one. Plastic with steel blades. That was the best pair of scissors I ever used and it was cheap. I also bought extra blades but never had to replace them.

    The plastic disintegrated after 40 years.
    I replaced it by something similar, but never found the same quality again.

  3. Cindy says:

    I have my Grandmother’s Ginghers in both the 8 in straight cut and the pinking shears. They have served me long and well and still wear the combination locks that kept my husband and children away from them . 🙂
    Today I use one of my three pair of Friskars which I find easier to use with my ageing hands and they work just as well. Thanks To Joanne’s coupons all have been reasonably priced. I would recommend them for any home sewer.

  4. Lynda says:

    I’ve had my Gingher scissors for almost 30 years, still cut like new. I keep the cover on the blades when not using and my children know to keep their hands off!

  5. Penny Dudley says:

    Being in my 70’s and doing a LOT of sewing, I found that the Fiscars easy action bent handles work extremely easy for my arthritic fingers. I will do a paste copy here of the description from the fiscar web site. I have their small snips that I use for trimming and the large snips that are perfect for nipping corners of thick items sewed. I have Weiss and Gingher brands that are now stored in a drawer. I prefer the comfort and ease of cutting that I have gotten from these economical Fiscars. I buy and give to my friends that tell me their scissors are hard to use as they have aged.

    “Winner of the Arthritis Foundation® Ease-of-Use Commendation, our Easy Action™ Scissors are the perfect choice for people with arthritis or limited hand strength. A spring-action design opens the blades after each cut, greatly reducing the effort needed for this basic motion. High-grade, stainless-steel blades feature a precision-ground edge that stays sharp longer and cuts all the way to the tip — essential for anyone who cuts fabric. An ergonomically sculpted handle with Softgrip® provides excellent cutting control and comfort, and a bent handle design keeps materials flat for precise cuts every time.”

  6. Erin says:

    I work at a marine canvas and upholstery shop in Maryland. Kai scissors are the only thing we use. And they hold up great to the heavy duty fabrics we have. The shop joke is “You can break into my house, steal my car, just don’t touch my scissors!!”

  7. Donna Dean says:

    I’ve used everything from cheap throw-aways to Kai. I’ve got Gingher’s, Wiss, and Kai. I always go back to my Kai. I even got Kai nail clippers (wonderful!) and Kai pinking shears.

  8. Kris Born says:

    I have two pairs of Gingher dressmaker scissors and I love them! A long time ago an un-named person cut something he shouldn’t have with my Gingher scissors. I sent that pair in to Gingher for sharpening and it came back as sharp as original. Great customer service! That is important to me when I buy items that I will expect to last a long time.

  9. Erica Kennedy says:

    I have used Ginghers for years and LOVE them. Mine must be a lower version than those mentioned as I have never paid the high prices mentioned. Of course, in the US they may be less expensive… My first pair cost $40 but with a Joann’s coupon I got a better deal. They lasted for almost 20 years and although they come with a lifetime warranty, I felt bad sending them in for the free sharpening with a large nick in the blade from having dropped them on a concrete floor. When I replaced them (again with a Joann’s coupon!), I made sure that each of my daughters also had a pair. After another 5 years, I sent them in for the free sharpening and got them back in mere weeks! I have been a professional seamstress through much of my life and cannot recommend them highly enough. They work on EVERY fabric, including leather and vinyl, and feel like cutting through butter. When they start to resist, I send them in for sharpening. I keep a back up pair for when they are off for sharpening or when one of my girls is over and we are both cutting. Nowadays, my granddaughters are learning to sew, but at 7-10 years of age, I am not prepared to invest in Ginghers for them, as they are still more careless than they will become. Also, some pairs of Ginghers used to come with special tins for storing!

  10. MaryBeth says:

    I love my Ginghers, but would love to find pinking shears that cut well and stay sharp or can be sharpened. Any recommendations? Thanks!

  11. I purchased a pair of shears in 1967 with the JCPenney name on them that were made by WISS. I recently had them sharpened and they cut like a dream.

  12. Anne Farmer says:

    Both my Mom and Grandmom were seamstresses and they had Gingher scissors, which I now have and use, I treated myself to a left-handed pair from Hancock one time when they were on sale and it was like learning to cut fabric all over! If you’re used to right handed scissors and then try left, it’s weird, even when you left handed like I am, I’ve had them all sharpened several times and they hold an edge very well. It’s harder now to get the lefties sharpened since they have to be hand sharpened and apparently, not many people still do that. Pricey but they last generations!

  13. Kathryn says:

    My Kai scissors are the best and I use them for garment sewing. I use Fiskars for everything else. I still have my Mom’s 50+ year old Wiss scissors that I used when learning to sew. They are still good but I no longer use them.

  14. Joan Zee says:

    Good fabric scissors are an absolute necessity even if you only sew once in a while. My Gingher scissors are 40 years old and have been resharpened 2 times. I have taught my family that “If you touch these, you die!” and when the kids were younger, I kept them hidden away. I only use them for fabric. I use a rotary cutter for cutting out patterns these days, but still use my scissors frequently. I am tempted to try the Kai scissors, but until I really need a new one, I will stick with the Gingher. Also, if you are left-handed, like I am, you definitely need to buy a left-handed scissor. Makes all the difference in the world and the Gingher lefty is especially good. I keep a “righty” scissor in my sewing room as well for times that I have a grandchild or a friend sewing with me.

  15. Mea Cadwell says:

    I have my great-grandmother’s 6 inch Wiss scissors from many, many decades ago. They were great until I had them sharpened, now they don’t cut anything. So, I keep them for posterity in my sewing kit.

    I also have my grandmother’s 8 inch Wiss scissors. They have been misplaced though. Sadness.

    I’ve since purchased inexpensive scissors because I mostly use rotary cutters for cutting fabric. They are great for the little bit I use them with fabric and I wait until they’re on sale. I like having a second set as backup.

  16. Liz M. says:

    I used to always use Gingher until I tried a pair of Kai and LOVE them. Now I don’t use anything but. Reasonably priced also.

  17. Abby C Lehman says:

    About 30 years ago I bought a set of Cutco knives and the bonus was a pair of 8″ dressmaker scissors. While I do all of my straight line cutting with a rotary cutter, I still use the Cutco scissors for all other cutting needs. They might be in need of a little sharpening just now, but they’ve been worth their weight in gold!

  18. KV says:

    A very inexpensive scissor and knife sharpener can be had for under $15. I have one and I keep all my straight-bladed scissors sharp sharp sharp. Try Amazon, BB&B, Williams Sonoma.

  19. Ruth riches says:

    Thanks for the tips on scissors

  20. Mary Beth Figgins says:

    I use a rotary cutter for cutting out fabric.

  21. kim linford says:

    good article. It is so worth having a really good pair of scissors. When I first started sewing (a million years ago!) I used what ever was around, Then I steppedup to a pair of sewing scissors that were not the best but they fit the budget. finally after taking classes at a very good sewing shop I bought my first pair of Ginghers. I learned that you don’t use them for anything else! My kids and husband also knew this. (I think I scared them)LOL!


    I still have an old pair of Wiss from 50 years ago. they are now my paper shears. My new ones are the bent handle 8
    Dressmaker Gingher. I love these. I also have the 5 inch and the craft one that is tubby and tough and the thread nippers. Love and trust the Gingher brand. never had a poor product from this make.

    • Laura Stratton says:

      I have several pairs of scissors and I think it’s worth buying a good name brand. One important thing you didn’t mention is make sure that they fit your hand properly. My favorite pair is the Fiskars with an ergonomic spring loaded handle. It’s easier on my hand.

  23. Robyn Becker says:

    Has any one tried the Gingher spring-action scissors? Also would like a suggestion for the basic purchase of which scissor types for a new quilter that should be in every sewing room. Thanks

    • Lynne says:

      I have a pair of the spring action shears and I love them. They are a lot easier on my arthritic fingers. I have had them sharpened once and need to have them sharpened again. But yes, if you have problems with your hands they are great. They are worth the money. I also have two pairs of the Fiskers spring action and they too work well although don’t stay sharp as long.

  24. Barbara Keller says:

    Last year I bought a pair of Ginghers and love them. In the past I bought Fiskars and accumulated several pairs because they became dull after a year or so. All of them are left handed pairs. Recently I found a man who sharpens knives and scissors and thought I had hit the jackpot. It turned out that his machine is set up for right handed scissors only and cannot be adjusted for lefties. So, I have several pairs of dull scissors stashed in a drawer.

    • Mea Cadwell says:

      I you can’t find a person to sharpen left handed scissors, may I suggest you donate them to a local non-profit organization? They may be too dull for fabric but may still work wonderfully on paper.

    • Lynne says:

      Fiskers makes a sharpener for their scissors that works on both right and left handed scissors. It works fairly well, you have to use often depending on the types of fabric you are cutting.

  25. Sue Hager says:

    I use Ginghers for heavy work and have had 4 pair of 8” chrome plated ones for over 40 years. But now my favorite go to pair are my Fiskars that are spring loaded. When cutting for long periods of time they are very helpful, especially if you have wrist problems as I do. They are also lightweight and both Ginghars & Fiskars are very sharp and cut right to the very tip of the blades.

  26. Jan Parker says:

    My first sewing scissors were left-handed Wiss, given to me by my mother when I was about 14. I am predominately left-handed but in school learned (was pushed) by teachers to cut right-handed. In the end, I cut with either hand. I used those for years…until they were lost when one of my left-handed kids took them to school for an Home Ec class (remember those? Required for every student when mine were in school).
    After that, most of mine were Fiskers, but I coveted the Ginghers my mother had used for years. My mother made hats and purses and loved how easily the Ginghers cut through thick fabrics. She was very careful with them, even putting them back in the box after she was done using them.
    For my birthday 15 years ago my husband gave me some Ginghers and I have loved them. Like cutting butter with a hot knife…I love how many thicknesses it will cut through too!
    And now, I have my mother’s Ginghers too. Going through her sewing room after she passed away I found them… stored in the original box as always. What a treasure!

  27. 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

  28. 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.

    • Vicki says:

      How did you find out about the “new” pouring?

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