Shears are NOT Scissors

sewing for my sanity

Scissor Sense: Do we have good sense when it comes to using scissors and shears? Yes, you read that right scissors AND shears. They are not the same thing.

People who sew and barber or cut hair know the difference.  When I first started sewing, I knew there was some difference.  The more experienced sewists were mad about a particular pair of either scissors or shears and very protective of how and when they were used.  I’m now that sewist.  

Here are three ways scissors and shears differ:

✂️Scissors have equally-sized holes for fingers and are symmetrical. 

✂️ The blade length is less than 6″

✂️ Shears have a small finger hole as well as a larger finger hole. 

Scissors for cutting patterns:

My favorite and most economic form of scissors is the standard Fiskar original orange-handled general purpose scissor.  It handles well and is comfortable to continuously cut paper like when you are cutting a PDF pattern.  

They are of good quality and seem to last forever before they need sharping.  Once. they get dull, I either self-sharpen or I use them for cutting sequins and other odd materials but never for fabric or paper again.  Also, once you use these for sequins or tough fabric they will warp and distort so the metal will never be sharp enough for anything else ever again. 

I tie a little piece of leftover bias tape to the handle of my paper scissors.  That lets everyone know NOT to use this pair for anything but paper and paper crafting. 

Scissors and shears for cutting fabric:

Hands down I go for an off-brand pair of shears I purchased at Fine Fabrics in Atlanta.  The tip on these is so ridiculously sharp and it doesn’t need sharpening often.  I’ve yet to get the free sharpening that comes with the purchase along with a caring case and oil.  I use these for almost everything except paper.  They are heavy and the handles are coated with a semi grip-friendly plastic so those with joint problems may not want to use these. 

I’m picky,  like most sewists so, for lightweight chiffons and difficult fabrics, I use my Kai scissors.

I also like the Gingher 8″ dressmaking shears.  Previously manufactured in Italy and Taiwan, Fiskar owns Gingher tools, one of the most popular US brands for scissors.  They are sturdy and I’ve yet to ever replace one due to poor craftsmanship.  Joann Fabrics sells a variety of Ginghar cutting tools.

Scissors for small jobs:

For small jobs, thread snipping, grading some seams and tight spaces my go-to pair of scissors is the Gingher  4″ Curved Embroidery Scissors. I know, I know, they are not designed for and I don’t care. 

It works.  These are double-plated chrome over a nickel finish and come with a handy leather sheath for storage.  Somehow the curve makes it easier to get close to annoyingly wild threads. And literally, it is the tiny king of snipping into small spaces. 

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