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A Guide to Using the Right Kind of Scissors for Your Sewing Project

The proper tools are so important for success in sewing. There are many different kinds of scissors to use for specific materials- from fabric to thread to paper (and more). This can not only be confusing, but you can also ruin a pair by using them incorrectly. Let’s talk about a few types of scissors and when to use them in the sewing process!

Paper Scissors

Simple, everyday paper scissors are a must. You can use them for so many tasks and can never have too many pairs in your studio. They’re great for cutting out patterns, templates, large sheets of paper, and more. But there is one main rule for paper scissors- never use them to cut fabric or they can be ruined! The blades can get dull and bend at the pivot, causing the scissors to not close or cut properly. Almost every person who sews has made this mistake, so if it happens to you just know that it’s a common error. Paper scissors aren’t typically as expensive as a nice pair of fabric shears, but going through pairs does add up.

Fabric Scissors

There are many names for the tool that cuts fabric: dressmaker’s shears, fabric scissors, and bent trimmers, to name a few. They are all designed for cutting cloth, so you will definitely use them frequently. Make sure you find a pair that are comfortable to hold and not too heavy (or too light). Quality sewing scissors are an investment, so take good care of them and they’ll last for many years. You may be tempted to cut paper with your fabric scissors, but much like using paper scissors on fabric this is a bad idea. The scissors won’t necessarily bend, but the minerals and clays that are added to paper can dull the blades. Regular sharpening by a professional will keep your scissors working like new.

Pinking Shears

Another sewing staple, pinking shears have sawtooth-shaped blades to prevent fabric from fraying when cut. They cut in a zig-zag pattern, covering both the warp and the weft of woven cloth that would otherwise unravel. You can also use pinking shears to make decorative edges for craft projects and fabric swatches. Pinking shears tend to run on the more expensive side compared to most kinds of scissors.

Small Bird Scissors

These adorable little scissors are usually shaped like a stork (or a crane) and could be found in almost every sewing box back in the day. The beak tapers into the blades and the feet become the finger holes. Not only are they adorable, they’re incredibly useful! You can use them to cut threads when you’re sewing, doing embroidery, and even for trimming loose ends when finishing projects.

Honorable Mention: Seam Ripper

Technically they aren’t scissors, but seam rippers are sharp and used to cut things. There are different styles and sizes, but they typically have a U-shape on the end with a dull rounded ball and a sharp point. Seam rippers are great for removing threads and cutting open buttonholes made on a sewing machine. You can also use them in a pinch when sewing if you can’t find a pair of scissors to cut your thread. Buy a few inexpensive seam rippers and keep them in your sewing area.

What other types of scissors do you use in the sewing process?

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