Types of Sewing Scissors and How to Use Them, a tutorial by The Sewing Korner

When you’re a sewer, you’ll need more than just one type of scissors to get all of your projects completed successfully. If you’re a beginner, you’ll need to know what those scissors are and what they are used for, which is a lot easier than you might think.

Indeed, learning the various types of sewing scissors means doing a little research so you’ll be ready to use them properly when you need them.

The main types of sewing scissors include applique scissors, embroidery scissors, heavy duty shears, pinking shears, rotary cutter, and specialty scissors. It’s up to you to decide which ones you’d like to learn how to use first, but they should eventually all be in your sewing cabinet.

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    Some sewing scissors are expensive, while others are not. Nevertheless, once you purchase a good pair of sewing scissors, you likely won’t have to purchase another pair anytime in the near future, especially if you take good care of them and get them sharpened when they become dull. In fact, the right pair of sewing scissors made by a reputable company could last a lifetime if you don’t mistreat them and they don’t break.

    This is why you shouldn’t try to skimp when you’re buying the scissors. A good sturdy pair of scissors is likely to cost you some money, but alas, you should think of this purchase as an investment and not just an expense.

    Types of Sewing Scissors

    Sewing scissors come in many different types, each with their own specific function and purpose. It’s best not to use any of your sewing scissors for a different purpose other than what they were intended for because this can dull the blades of the scissors or at the very least, make the project either much more difficult, or at the worst, make it unsuccessful. The last thing you want to do is damage your blades and have to buy another pair, but using them only for their intended purpose and nothing else will ensure that doesn’t happen to you.

    Discussed below are sewing scissors you should always have in your collection of sewing supplies.

    Applique Scissors

    Applique scissors look a little funny because one of their blades is an odd duckbill shape. When you stitch down applique fabric, and before you sew over the raw edges with a final satin stitch, you can trim up the design so it looks much neater by using applique scissors. Applique scissors are medium-sized scissors that are specially designed to let you trim super close to the stitching line without accidentally cutting a hole in your baseline fabric.

    Since you’ll likely be working with an applique at some point, these scissors can become invaluable. You simply cannot do this job as easily and as neatly as you can by using other types of scissors. Applique scissors make any applique project look a lot more polished and smoother. Best of all, they are inexpensive – roughly $10 to $30 – and they can save you a lot of headaches in the meantime.

    In other words, because they are so inexpensive, you might as well buy a pair and keep it in your sewing kit because you’ll likely need them at some point. When you do, you’ll be very glad you have these scissors.

    Embroidery Scissors

    Whether you are hand embroidery or sewing a good pair of embroidery scissors is still a must for all sewers because they are small and therefore the perfect size to grab and trim the threads off of your fabric quickly. These scissors are usually three to six inches in length and have a thin, sharp tip that helps them be both very accurate and safe.

    In fact, when you want to trim a piece of thread very close to the fabric, embroidery scissors are perfect. Some of them have an indented area that you can use to rest your finger on comfortably as you use them, but the thing that makes them different is the sharp, thin tip that makes getting close to the thread very simple. Some have curved tips while others have straight tips, but you’ll be surprised by how regularly you use these scissors.

    Best of all, you can usually buy a good pair of embroidery scissors for around $10, often even less than that.

    Heavy Duty Shears

    When it comes to the various types of sewing scissors available, this is a seamstress’s most important pair of scissors. Like the name suggests, they are super sturdy and well-made, and they have a long blade and are designed to cut fabric frequently without becoming dull. Their blades are tapered, and one is sharp at the tip while the other one is rounded.

    The rounded tip is shaped like that to prevent snagging on seams and threads, and the pointed tip is convenient because it allows you to clip and notch your curves when you need to. Best of all, these scissors are heavy yet comfortable and have a bottom edge that is flush with the cutting surface, which makes it much easier to cut your fabric.

    In fact, if you take sewing seriously, you cannot even consider using anything but heavy-duty sewing shears to cut fabric and work on your sewing projects. Standard scissors won’t do, and neither will scissors designed for arts and crafts. You have to have scissors specifically made to sew with because otherwise, they will have neither the features you need nor the strength and durability to do the job right.

    When you go to buy your heavy-duty shears, you might be surprised at the price. Though they come in various sizes, the most useful shears are those 7 to 10 inches in length. Regardless of the length you choose, plan to spend anywhere from $15 to around $80 or so – and remember what we said about sewing scissors being an investment!

    One more thing about heavy-duty sewing shears – they are usually so well-made that they can cut through any type of fabric you’re working with, including denim or felt, and you can even cut through more than one layer of fabric at a time, making them a very versatile product for you to have.

    Pinking Shears

    Pinking shears look funny to someone who doesn’t sew because their blades are thick and have large ridges in them. They are easy to use and their main purpose is to cut the edges of your fabric, especially the seams, to prevent them from fraying too much. When you have an inside seam and you don’t use pinking shears on it, the seams won’t “lay down” and therefore the area of the fabric on the other side of the seams can be too puffy and can stick out some.

    Using pinking shears on your seams makes for a flatter and smoother look of your fabric. Most pinking shears produce a zigzag design on the edges of the fabric, but some are shaped a little differently and produce more of a scalloped look. Some people use them in crafts projects on fancy paper to give it a decorative look, but most people use these scissors to trim fabric edges so that they don’t unravel or fray too much.

    Pinking shears can cost as little as $10 and as much as $50 or more, but again, good sewing scissors are not what you want to skimp on because they are an investment.

    Rotary Cutter

    Rotary cutters are special devices used in quilting and is used with a rotary mat. Its main purpose is to cut through multiple layers of fabric, and not just fabric with standard thicknesses. A good rotary cutter can cut through cotton, paper, denim, or even leather, and it saves a ton of time because you can cut through so many layers at one time.

    You will, of course, have to replace the blade occasionally, but like the rotary cutter itself, these blades are not very expensive. Some rotary cutters even come complete with several replacement blades, and you can usually buy a set of blades plus the cutter itself for around $15 to $20. Regardless of the type of fabric you’re sewing with, a good rotary cutter can save you a lot of time on your next project.

    Specialty Sewing Scissors

    When you’re searching for various types of sewing scissors, the ones mentioned above need to be in your sewing kit at all times, but there are other scissors that aren’t necessary, yet you still might want to add them to your collection at some point. These include the following scissors:

    Buttonhole Scissors

    These scissors have a small screw placed strategically in the handle and opens up your buttonholes without the stitches getting too stretched out or becoming damaged altogether. The screws are adjustable and the scissors usually cost under $15.

    Left Handed Scissors

    Yes, they do make scissors just for left-handed people. Left-handed people cannot use regular scissors, and even though these may be a little difficult to find, they are out there and they usually don’t cost any more than their right-handed counterparts.

    There are other specialty scissors as well, including those with fancy or even animated shapes and designs. Regardless of what you’re looking for, you should be able to find some great scissors for all of your sewing projects.

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