A Guide to Sewing Scissors & Cutting Tools

Here is a guide to Sewing Scissors and Cutting Tools.

Buying quality-cutting tools is essential. If the cutting tools you are using are not quality, or sharp, you will not get the precision you're going to need to complete a quality garment. Any project will rely on sharp sewing scissors and rotary blades. I highly recommend have a number of pairs of sharp quality made scissors available at all times. As well as utility scissors for cutting, so you won't be tempted to use your good  scissors. 

Change the blades in your rotary cutter, when you detect the blade is getting dull and have your cutting shears sharpened by a professional when they are not cutting through your fabric smoothly.

Sewing Scissors & Cutting Tools Tips

  • Keep your cutting tools in good working order.
  • Cutting tools range in price, especially depending on where you buy them. My local fabric stores occasionally put the more expensive shears on sale, so I have pick up several quality pairs that way.
  • Most fabric stores will let you try a brand of shears out, before you buy them,so do not be afraid to ask for a scrap of fabric and take them for a test drive.
  • No matter what, buy the top name brands and you will not be sorry.

Dressmaker's Shears

Dressmaker's Shears: are primarily used for cutting pattern pieces. The bottom blade is designed to angle slightly; this allows the fabric to lie flat while cutting. The result is, it limits the fabric from shifting.

Sewing Shears: come in standard blade lengths of 7"(18cm) and 8"(20.5cm). Larger blades are available up to 12"(30cm).

Your choice will depend on the size of your hand. Use larger blades for larger hands, and use smaller blades for smaller hands.

If you are left handed, left-handed scissors are also available.

Smaller serrated edged blades are great for slippery knits such as jersey knits and t-shirt knits. This pair of dressmaker's scissor gives more control when cutting.

  • This is an example of 8" dressmaker's shears.

Pinking Shears

pinking shears

These finishing shears were first invented and patented in 1843 by Louis Austin. Many sewers still use them for creating a finished seam that prevents unraveling.

The blade has a zigzag edge and when a straight stitch is sewn a 1/4 inch from the zigzag, it gives a good alternative to using a serger finish.

General Use Sewing Scissors

  • It is always handy to have a general use, pair of sewing scissors. The blades are smaller at 6"(15cm).

I like to have them handy for cutting and trimming as you're creating your project. This size of sewing scissor is easier to handle, but still large enough to cut through layers of fabric.

Scissor Sharpeners

I use my sewing scissors a lot. Yes, taking them in for sharpening is recommended, but I find it can be costly. Especially when you have a number of pairs. 

Desktop Scissors Sharpener-

As an alternative, try using a desktop version scissor sharpener to sharpen your scissors at home. If you find you’re doing a lot of sewing and your scissors are getting dull more often, for only a few dollars you can save on taking your scissors in a few times per year.

Below are a few options to review and consider. There are more expensive versions available, but I suggest trying an economic version to try. 

  Embroidery Scissors

If you are doing some finer cutting, embroidery scissors are a good idea.

  • The blades are 4"(10cm) and 5"(12.5cm).
  • The tips of both blades are pointed, in order to get into smaller spaces more easily

Applique Scissors

  • Applique scissors are use to trim around the stitching of the applique. They allow for a tight trim of loose threads and excess embroidery stabilizer.

Thread Clipper

This tool can replace the seam ripper and comes in handy for clipping threads and trimming corners of fabric. This tool is designed with a spring-loaded joint, so one-handed use is possible.

  • Note: I do find the thread clipper becomes dull quite quickly. Replacing them is relatively frequent, depending how much you sew.
  • Some tools are a matter of personal preference. If you think, you could use a cutting tool in a multi purpose manner, then you do not need all of these choices. You will find the more you sew; you will learn your personal preferences.

Seam Ripper

  • Very small and useful when picking out seam stitches, removing old buttons, and opening buttonholes.
  • Although it is an almost must have tool, be careful not to cut fabric when removing stitches.

They are quite sharp and I have learn that lesson the hard way. Not much fun to tear into the garment let me tell you.

Rotary Cutters & Mats

Originally, rotary cutters were used on a larger scale, for industrial purposes. The factories use electric cutters to cut through multiple layers of fabric, that sewing scissors could never cut through.

However, since the late 1970's, the OLFA Company came up with a rotary cutter for home use. Of course, this tool has many uses for crafters and quilters alike. To use this cutting tool, however you must have a special plastic mat to protect your cutting surface as well as protecting the rotary blade.

Some sewers prefer rotary cutters to sewing scissors, but it is apersonal preference.

Rotary cutters work the same as a pizza cutter. They are very sharp and take time to get used to, so take care when in use and maybe give practice on scraps if you have never used one.

The mats, as you can see in the photo, do come in different sizes, and the larger the mat, the more costly they are.

Rotary cutting mats are great for measuring as well as giving a surface to cut on. The mats come in many different sizes. This is just one example of how they look.

Cutting Machine

Lately I have noticed the cutting machines available are becoming digital. This can make light work of tedious cutting around small intricate pieces. I wanted to add these machines as an option for sewing enthusiasts who want to save time and create beyond the imagination. If you were looking to start your own t-shirt business, these cutting machines could be your best friend. 

Shop new arrivals from Cricut!

One of these cutting machines will be in my sewing inventory very soon. Below are some examples that are currently available, have a look and see if this is something you would find useful.