Ask Mimi #4: Do I really need special scissors for sewing and quilting?
I remember my mother’s face when she discovered my sister and me cutting cardboard with her “good” scissors. It was the same look we got when we lost (misplaced) our baby brother. We didn’t understand at the time, but we do now.
Having the right tools for any job, makes our work easier and of a higher quality. In sewing and quilting there are many different jobs for which we need cutting tools. A high quality dressmaker’s shears can handle most fabric cutting tasks, but there are some other options to consider. We might need a small snipper, a rotary cutter, pinking shears, serrated scissors, and sometimes we even need paper cutting scissors!
We tend to use the terms shears and scissors interchangeably, but they are different. Shears are 7” or more long and often have offset handles to make cutting on a flat surface easier. Scissors are 6” or less in length and both handles are equally shaped. Shears have a smaller handle for the thumb, with a larger handle for two or more fingers. This provides more control and more precise cuts.
Whether buying scissors or shears this is an area where you do not want to skimp. Keep in mind, with proper care, these tools should last a lifetime. The three top producers of scissors and shears are Fiskars, Gingher, and Kai. All three of these manufacturers make high quality products and are widely available.
Fiskars: Although economically priced Fiskars are available, it’s best to stick to the higher priced models offered. Fiskars 8 Inch Heritage Seamstress Scissor is a good choice. At $11.50, you can’t beat the price. Fiskars 5 Inch Titanium Micro-Tip Easy Action Scissors for $15.00 are just what you need if you have arthritis or other issues with hand strength or pain. The spring action assists each cut. These are also essential if you plan to make a rag quilt- There is a lot of snipping involved! Fiskars 10-inch Soft Touch Spring Action Razor Edged Scissor is the best of both worlds. A little pricey at $22.50, but well worth it. Lastly, from Fiskars the Fiskars No. 4 Curved Craft Scissor for $10.00 is handy for tight cutting.
Gingher: Gingher has been the standard in sewing scissors and shears for years. The Gingher 8-inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears are probably what your grandmother used. Still a high quality tool, the Dressmaker’s Shears will run you about $25.00. The Gingher 4 Inch Embroidery Scissor will serve nicely as a snipper for small projects. If you plan to do applique, the Gingher 6 inch Knife Edge Applique Scissors are a must. At $21.00, the paddle shaped blade pushes away the bottom layer of fabric for controlled trimming. Gingher also makes a 4.5 Inch Knife Edge Thread Nipper. This little nipper will cost about $17.00.
Kai: Kai Professional Shears at 8” (7205), 9” (7230), and 10” (7250) will all do an excellent job for you. At $60.00, $65.00, and $68.00 respectively, these high quality tools will serve you for years to come. A good all-purpose 6 and ½ inch Sewing Scissor is available for under $20.00. Kai also offers a 4 inch Needlecraft Scissor at $15.00. Additionally, Kai offers an 8 Inch True Left Handed Scissor for $23.00.
Quilt you dreams!
Disclosure: We work hard to make sure this content is useful to our customers. In order to continue creating helpful and complete guides, we receive a small payment for each purchase made through our site. This does not affect our product reviews or recommendations in any way. Thank you for supporting Mimi’s!