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

  1. Kimberly says:

    I’m loving this series, Deby, and will be placing an order for the brass seam ripper and stiletto, and also buying both for a friend of mine who has gotten me back into sewing! One of the projects on my list is your cross-body bag, I just bought the pattern the other day off Craftsy!

    As far as scissors, back when I first started sewing, I used the orange-handled Fiskars, and they were nice and worked well for a beginner. I’ve got a pair of Kai thread nippers which for some reason are horribly useless and I’m probably going to bin them. I’ve never used them for anything else but cutting thread, and it makes me sad that they’re so awful. I now have three pairs of Gingher – the 8 inch designer series knife-edge dressmaker shears in the aqua/turquoise “Barbara” pattern and oh my goodness, they are the sharpest scissors that just cut so precisely and so beautifully; in fact, I used the “hot knife through soft butter” analogy to a friend of mine to describe how well they cut! I have the matching “Barbara” pattern 4 inch embroidery scissors, use them as thread nippers since the Kai pair are so awful, and I also have just a plain silver pair of 5 inch Gingher knife edge sewing scissors, which also cut incredibly well. Recently I purchased a cheap pair of sewing scissors at Joanne’s that I’ll use for shortening zippers and cutting patterns and paper-backed fusible interfacing, etc. because I now understand the importance of using the fabric-cutting scissors just for cutting fabric/thread!

    I’m in need of a good pair of pinking shears and am not afraid to spend the money for them (my Ginghers were not inexpensive), and despite my bad experience with the Kai nippers, I do know that many people swear by that brand so I’d definitely consider them. Knowing that I used to use my mom’s pinking shears to do everything from cutting paper to cutting my hair (what the heck was I thinking?! teens do the strangest things!) and her good sewing scissors for cutting all sorts of other things, I am reminded that I must place a call to her specifically to apologize for that, and tell her I now understand all the yelling she did over her sewing supplies. That poor woman was *constantly* getting her shears sharpened! 🙁

  2. Linda Goschke says:

    It is always worth the extra money and time to have the right, good-quality tools for sewing. Good tools last longer and usually work better with less difficulty. It can be so frustrating and tiring to try to work for long stretches on complex projects using poor blades or badly constructed or damaged tools of any kind. I have a variety of Ginghers and Fiskars knife edge scissors and snips I have used for decades, both professionally and for home sewing. Recently, I purchased some spring-handled Fiskars to make grasping and cutting easier for my aging, slightly arthritic hands, although I have found some issues with the handle locks getting in the way of operation of the angled dress-maker’s scissors. I have all the knife edges sharpened regularly to keep their nice edges and have duplicates, so I have a sharp pair available to use while the others are out for sharpening. Whenever practical, I store them in their original, blade-protecting sleeves or cases. JoAnn’s and other fabric stores, as well as some sewing and vacuum stores offer sharpening services or know of good sharpening providers. I hesitate to use sharpening services that are more accustomed to working on power tools (like at a big-box hardware store), but quality knife and cutlery stores are also a good option.

    • Marlette Louisin says:

      I, too, am a Gingher owner of knife edge, serrated edge (for knits) and several nippers. Wonderful scissors. They have a sharpening service and do a wonderful job of it. I nicked my knife edge blades when I accidentally hit a pin. It’s now fixed and one would never know they were nicked.
      I wouldn’t use Joann’s for repair services. Even local sharpeners may not be that good. It’s worth the postage to let Gingers do it as it’s not that expensive.
      I have the Fisher’s spring loaded scissors, too, and with some tendonitis and arthritis have found the assistance and lighter weight helps when cutting for a long time.
      Price does equal quality in scissors and knives1

  3. Elaine R. says:

    By the way, one way to find a sharpener is to look under saw sharpeners and see if they also do sissors or maybe your hairdresser.

  4. Elaine R. says:

    My current and long time favorite sewing sissors are a wilkinson sword with its own ” sharpening” case. I have at least 4 or five or more old sissors all over the house so there’s no need to scrounge mine. When I visit the kids and am roped into sewing I buy a new dollar store pair that do well enough. I have my dad’s old old pair that must be 70 yrs or older and hubby uses it for cutting canvas occasionally. It is way too big for my hand. Bu don’t start me on embroidery sissors………

  5. I hide my good ones under the others✂️ The guys just grab whatever is on top!

  6. Sonya says:

    Any pair of scissors are great if u use them for sewing only. I have a pair from the 99 cent store and they are great. Designer is just a name.

  7. Wendy says:

    I don’t sew very often but had become frustrated at using scissors that were not up to scratch. I did try using cheep scissor packs but I’m as bad as the family at just grabbing them to quickly… I had some mall Westcot titanium scissors that I used for paper crafting and was very impressed with them so asked my daughter to get me their dress-making scissors for Christmas a few years back (they were less than £5). I have been very impressed with them for the price and would recommenced them to anyone who wants to give fabric craft a go without spending a fortune on tools.

  8. Caitlen says:

    Hi

    I just found your site and i am a beginner in sewing and live in the Netherlands in Europe. I am 15 years old and because of a illness i needed to stop sporting. Now i like to sew, but my scissors are just a normal pare of kitchen ones not ferry good. But i don’t have the budget to buy a proper pair. What can i use the best.

    Greetz
    Caitlen Mellor
    The Netherlands

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Caitlen, welcome to this site, just buy what you can afford, but it is important to use them only to cut fabric. I really would love to see what you come up with. Please keep in touch, or come to our chat room https://www.facebook.com/groups/soseweasychat/ we will love to see your creations and you will serve as an inspiration to other young girls.
      Mayra

  9. Marsha Hylton says:

    I have a “Nigel” at my house, as well as teenagers. I love my Ginghers so much that I put a combination lock on them, when I am not using them. I have been sewing for sixty years and they are the best investment ever.

  10. Kathleen says:

    I inherited some Ginghers feint my mom. I have sent them to the company to have them sharpened only once. You only have to pay shipping! They are my favorite! I have scissors that I have received as gifts for ordering fabric but I have never taken them out of the package. No need when I have my ginghers!!!

  11. Phyllis says:

    First, let me say that my husband KNOWS I would cut off his finger if he used my good scissors for ANY reason! (He now has his own set of cutting tools) I own 5 pairs of Gingher in varying sizes, and have had them all, and LOVED them all for many years (let’s say 30+). I keep a small curved set at my sewing machine; a small straight set on my cutting mat; another small straight set on my ironing board; and my large straight pair and pinking scissors in my sewing box that goes everywhere with me. I admit I rarely use the large pairs (I’m a quilter, and use a rotary cutter for much of my sewing). I have had all but the pinking scissors sharpened multiple times, but currently am having problems finding anyone locally who does sharpening.

  12. Doreen says:

    I bought my first pair of Gingher scissors way back when. I was fresh out of college and working at a fabric store, that was in 1993. They are still my best pair of scissors, still as sharp as the day I bought them I have never needed to sharpen them and they cut through anything, well anything fabric that is. I’ve used other brands but they have never given me a cleaner, easier cut than my Ginghers.

  13. Roxie M. says:

    More than 40 years ago when I entered Sam Houston State University as a freshman to get a degree in home ec. I got a pair of Ginger. I have used the same pair all these years and have had them professionally sharpened several times. I also got the pinking sheers too. I painted the handles yellow (my favorite color) and everyone in this house knows NO ONE but me is to use these scissors. It took some training, I keep a cheap Dollar tree pair in the box for my grandsons to grab but they know not to use my good scissors.

  14. Marly says:

    I seem to be buying new scissors every time I go to Joann’s. My “Nigel” is named “Don”, and he also can do some pretty vicious things to cutting implements. Lately he has taken to hiding them, and I find them in the strangest places, but never on my sewing table….. I started hiding my really good fabric scissors, but usually do not remember where since I do such a good hiding job.

    I used to like my Fiskars and Ginghers. Currently I am reduced to a pair I bought at a Staples sale for $2.00. They are better than gnawing on the fabric, but not by much. I am considering going back to crocheting, but only because I know I can still cut yarn with the large supply of toe nail clippers I purchased from the Dollar Store. It is, however, just a matter of time until he discovers that they can cut more than toe nails.

  15. Jennie says:

    I’m left handed so finding scissors is even that much more of a problem. I do have left handed Fiskars that are ok. They don’t hold an edge for very long. I have found that for cutting at the tip of scissors to cut along a curve or thicker areas, I use a pair of left handed kamisori hair shears. I was blessed to find a 4″, 5.5″, and 7″ at a estate sale. The best site I’ve found for finding great estate sales is this http://www.estatesales.net/ . They work great since hair is harder than most cotton or cotton blend fabric.

    Sharpening your scissors is so important. As is finding a good scissor sharpener. So I thought who use sharp things as their tools every day. So I went to a fine dining restaurant between 2:00 and 4:00 during the day ( it’s there slow prep time in between lunch and dinner) ask the chef who he takes his knives to. That’s where you go, because they know the best. If they say I sharpen them myself, thank them and leave and go to a better restaurant. I live on the east side of metro Phoenix Az. I take them to a little shop with a man that says every time, “oh you left handed” other places I had to explain they were left handed. Depending on how busy he is it takes 2 hours (summer slow time) to 1 week (high season) they stay sharp longer and are safer if they properly sharpened.

    • Jean DeKraker says:

      Would you share the name of the shop? I had my scissors sharpened recently and they are worthless now. I’m hoping a good sharpener can savage them? I live north of Phoenix, but it would be worth the drive to the east to find someone that is recommended

  16. Lynell says:

    I have two pair of Fiskars. A regular pair of shears and a pair of soft touch shears for use on heavy weight fabric. If you have arthritis or carpal tunnel, the soft touch shears take much less effort to use as they have a spring to assist with leverage when cutting. I have not had to sharpen either pair, yet and I have had them for several years. I also have a smaller pair of soft touch scissors that are great for clipping are super sharp all the way to the point. I keep them hidden in my sewing cabinet to keep anyone else from using them.

  17. Beth Levenson says:

    My grandmother gave me my first pair of left handed shears for my 15th birthday. I don’t remember what brand they were, but i was so proud to own real grownup scissors. Then when I graduated from college, she gave me my first pair of Ginghers and I’ve been using them ever since. I don’t remember what happened to my first pair, only that I did something like cut over a pin? But at any rate, I had to replace them about 20 years ago and am still using the 2nd set, without ever sharpening them. I have 8″ shears, 2 pinking shears, and several craft and embroidery scissors, all Ginghers. I don’t intend to ever switch. Being left handed, it is really important for me to have a genuine left hand set so I can see what I’m cutting. (In the better brands, the blades are reversed. Some cheaper brands reverse the angle of the handle for the thumb, but don’t reverse the blades themselves.)To me it is worth every penny to buy good quality that will make the job of cutting easier and will last a long time.

  18. Joanne Morris says:

    I paid about $35 for my serrated Ginghers and they are the best scissors!

  19. Patty says:

    I have all Kai scissors. I originally had Gingher but Kai are FAR superior scissors. I have the double curved applique and single curve applique with sharp and blunt points. I have the pinking shears, dressmaker shears and 9″ scissors. I get the professional quality ones that they sell. Yes, they are worth every penny. I’ve never owned scissors that cut as beautifully as these do.

    They also have nail clippers, beware, they are super sharp and seam rippers.

    • Sheryl says:

      Thanks for your review on Kai scissors! I always wanted a pair…I have some of the others mentioned here, but with my arthritis, I need something easier to slide through fabric!!

    • Judy Morgan says:

      I agree! I have a small pair of Kai sissors that I LOVE and 3 pairs of Gingher that I’m willing to lend to Nigel or Don so I can have a good reason to splurge on a couple of Kai’s. I had a pair of Gingher nippers that after several years of frustration I (gasp) threw them in the garbage.

  20. Doreen S says:

    I have a pair of Gingers shears I got about 35 years and several pairs of Fiskars ranging in size from 4″ to 8″. But my go-to pairs are the Fiskars. They are lighter weight than the Gingers and far sharper and easier to use, especially now that I have arthritis in my hands. They also work great for clipping curved edges and trimming small edges. The Gingers tips have never clipped curves down to the very tip like the Fiskars. I have never heard of the Kai until just recently, so haven’t tried them.

    • Melissa Reilly says:

      I have a pair of lightweight Ginghers – might want to check them out. More comfortable to use than Fiskars and a smoother cut.

  21. Cindy S. says:

    I have found that Gingher work well for me. I have Fiskars rotary cutters. I have been adding to my scissor collection, with different scissors serving different purposes. Across the board though, I have learned that you truly get what you pay for with scissors. Since they are such an important tool in your sewing, they are well worth the investment.

  22. Kim G says:

    I too, am loving this series! I am just now starting to sew again after stepping away from it for almost 30 years. I have a pair of Fiskar shears that I had to buy for college (I was a fashion merchandising major and we had several sewing classes). I have used these scissors on and off since I bought them and they are still very sharp and cut really well. I have been looking at other brands and keep hearing about Gingher so I may invest in a new pair if I continue my sewing streak! I am fortunate that my husband can sharpen my scissors for me. My mom has a pair of scissors that my grandmother owned and they needed sharpening (I think they are fiskars), my hubs sharpened them for my mom and now they cut thru fabric like butter!

  23. Brenda says:

    I agree, Kai are the best!

  24. MC says:

    Enter into the left handed world. When I was a teenager my hand was raw from using right handed scissors. My mother finally found a pair of left handed Singer scissors and I have them to this day almost 50 yrs. later. Finding someone to sharpen them is a challenge so I also have a pair of Fiskars Soft Touch which I love. Truth be told tho’, I use my rotary cutter whenever I can so I can keep my Singers sharp as long as possible. Thank you Fiskars for realizing that not everyone is right handed.

    • Jaclyn says:

      Hi Everyone,

      Gingher also makes left-handed shears. I’m left handed and brought my first pair last month from Joann’s. They are awesome! I used the 50% off coupon too. I’m now searching for the Gingher Pinking Shears today as they have a 60% off coupon at Joann’s. I don’t think they are left-handed pinking shears, however I think they will work just as great!

  25. Mary says:

    I have both Gingher and Fiskar. Recently I purchased a pair of Kai scissors, and since has experienced cutting utopia. My Kai has replaced all other scissors, now I’m thinking I should get new pinking shears.
    Yes I do also return them to the original package at the of my work session.

    • I’m loving my Kai as well. I’ve never tried Ginghers but there are lots of comments here to say how wonderful they are too. And I’m surprised how often Fiskars are mentioned as well. I’ve always thought of them more in the craft cutting market than fabric, so well done to them for creating great fabric shears too.

      • Carmen Harless says:

        When I started sewing I was surprised to find Fiskars scissors at the fabric shop. I always used their orange handled safety scissors in school for my construction paper. Now I use purple handled Fiskars for my fabric. I’ve had them over a year and have never had to sharpen them. They are very good scissors.

  26. Mary Green says:

    I have sewn for 50 plus years and started out with whatever shears were in the house. Then I bought a pair at a big-box store and kept them as designated sewing scissors. I’ve had several over the years, replacing them as they dulled. Ten years ago I received a lovely pair of Marks Knife Edge that are sharp and hefty to hold. They are my go-to scissors now for sewing.
    I have numerous pairs of small scissors for handwork, most name-brand that I have purchased at quilt shows. When cutting threads, sharp is definitely a must.

  27. Lisa says:

    Thanks for all of the great information. I went to the Kai website and noticed a sharpening stone. I think I have one…grandma was a seamstress and I have some cool old stuff! I’m excited!

  28. Carlene Parker says:

    Many years ago (more than 10) I got a pair of Wiss scissors at a garage sale for $0.10 and paid $3.00 to have them sharpened at JoAnns and they still will cut my fabric nicely.

  29. Wendy Harrison says:

    I have 2 pair of Ginghers! I love them! The first pair was my first expensive purchase when I first started sewing! They are about 7 years old and still look brand new. I have had them sharpened to keep the knife edge on them. I have not found another pair equal to their quality. I also have the pinking shears, the rotary cutter and the nippers! Love Gingher!!

  30. Gina B. says:

    I bought my Barrillito scissors in Mexico when I lived there 30 years ago and they’re still as sharp as the first day. If I remember correctly, I paid about $30, which was a lot of money in Mexico at the time.

  31. Virginia Stanley says:

    I have some old Wiss that I have worn out and some Gingher. I love my Gingher’s. They have stayed sharp for a long time. Thanks for posting your research.

  32. Daniela says:

    I am proud of my very cheap scissors!
    When I started sewing again I didn’t have any special sewing scissors. Therefore I used what I had: some scissors out of a cheap scissor pack. And they did really great!!! I used them for shortening zippers, too – no problem. Some time later I saw an identical scissor set at a discounter (LIDL or ALDI in Germany) and bought it in another colour: 4 scissors in 4 sizes for just 2 € (that’s about $2.30). (They are called sewing scissors, houshold scissors, school scissors and yarn scissors.) The new set did even better than the old one – and it’s really hard to imagine that there exist better scissors for cutting fabric. (I also use the rotary cutter a lot.)
    My new set has its special place now. It is complemented by an old pair of scissors which I now use for zipper cutting and stuff like that.
    I definitely vote for bargain Scissors!

    • Wow, lucky lady to find great scissors at a great price. I used to shop at Lidl a lot while I was in the UK, couldn’t believe how they could do what they do and still make money on it – great for tools etc.

  33. Cherita says:

    I’m almost embarrassed to say how many scissors I own hehe. I def have a scissor obsession. Anyway they are all for something & used differently (at least that’s what I tell my suspicious hubby). I will talk about my favs tho-Kai 7280 11″ Tailors shears, Gingher 8″ gold handled Dressmaker shears, & Fiskars 8″ soft grip titanium. These are my most used & most loved & most recommended :-). I use the Kai for long stretches of cutting fabrics, the Gingher for almost everything else & are prob my overall fav, & the Fiskars for pattern & paper cutting 🙂

    • Great to have plenty of choice and interesting that you find different ones are best for different types of situation. Looks like you’ve got it covered!

    • Pauline says:

      I know exactly where you are coming from Cherita! I have upwards of a hundred prs! Different shapes and sizes for different things. My collection got out of hand after the Christchurch earthquake. My friendly scissor shapener who would do about 15 prs for $20[NZ] lost his premises and I haven’tbeen able to find him. I have tried others but they are very expensive and not a very good job. So now I just go and buy a new pr. Usually when they are on special or a cheap brand. One of the best I found was in our local $2 shop. [everything$2] At that price you can chuck them out but…… I dont! I do have a couple of expensive prs and I hide them from the family and only use on expensive fabrics.

  34. chilebeanz says:

    I have 9 pairs of Ginghers (2 are embroidery scissors, and 2, a matching set of dressmaker shears & embroidery scissors, were a gift), 7 of which I have owned for between 25 and 30 years. Only 1 pair of dressmaker shears, my first pair, have ever needed sharpening. They are all different styles. None have ever cut anything but fabric. I use Fiskars plus one pair of EK teflon coated Honeybee scissors for paper crafting and have sharpened the Fiskars several times. My family of 1 hubby and 3 sons knows to never touch my scissors, and I saw to it that they all had their own, including one left-handed son who always had proper lefty scissors. My Ginghers will go on to serve several more generations. I believe in god equipment because it serves my needs perfectly.

  35. Cheryl Eilers says:

    I love my Ginghers I bought them 37 years ago and have never sharpened them and they still work great and give me a very sharp point cut when clipping seams. I sew all the time so they have gotten lots of wear over the years.

  36. I bought a pair of top pf the line Henckles in the 80’s that came with a lifetime guarantee for about $50 CDN at a small sewing shop. I still have & use them not only for sewing, but for other crafts as well (this includes cutting wires for floral crafts). They are still fairly sharp (never had them sharpened) to this day. If I ever need a new pair, I will definitely get another pair of Henckles.

  37. Anna-Jo says:

    I did all right with a pair of Fiskars shears for many years, but recently upgraded to some Merchant and Mills micro-serrated ones. They are gorgeous and fabulously sharp. My only niggle is that the serrations tend to catch and drag a little when cutting lightweight fabrics, but perhaps that’s down to my technique. TBH, for years I’ve been cutting out with a rotary cutter whenever possible. It’s so much easier!

  38. Michelle says:

    I’m loving this series, Deby! My sewing scissors were all given to me by my MIL, or rather I inherited them when she passed. They mean so much to me because of her. I have beautiful a beautiful Singer set, and my Pinking shears are Henckels – all really lovely quality.

  39. robbie says:

    Kai all the way. Like an old friend, they won’t let you down.

  40. Fooniks says:

    I’m a Fiskars gal. They are very durable and comfortable to use. And I’ve gotten the Fiskars scissors sharpener as well to give them a good sharpening session every now and then(read when I cut into a pin) and I’m very happy with my Fiskars.

What do you think?