If you’ve just taken up the wonderful craft of sewing or you’re looking to upgrade to a new pair of sewing scissors, then you’ve come to the right place.
I recently wanted to treat myself to a new pair of crafting scissors and, in the process, spent a lot of time researching what were the best sewing scissors on the market in the UK. This article is based on my experience and the feedback from other people in the sewing community.
What makes a good pair of sewing scissors?
Your needs – The first thing to consider is what you’ll be using your scissors for. Will you be cutting single pieces of cotton fabric for quilting, or are you more likely to be cutting through multiple layers of heavy fabric for dress making? Do you need very fine precise control because you’re cutting out pieces for applique crafting? These will all require slightly different types of scissors.
Comfort – Consider aspects like the weight of the scissors and type of the hand grips. Heavy scissors can become uncomfortable and awkward after using them for some time. Although traditionally sewing scissors were all metal in design, there are now many models that have plastic handles which are lighter and easier to use. In addition, ergonomically contoured handles that fit the shape of your hands mean they’re a joy to use during a long day of fabric cutting.
Durability – investing in a good quality pair of scissors can last you for decades. Look for scissors that are made from quality stainless steel that can be sharpened. These can cut through a wide variety of different fabrics such as cotton, felt, denim and wool.
Although a quality pair of sewing scissors may cost a little bit more, not only will they last longer but you’ll enjoy using them much more.
Clean precise cutting – An essential need for your scissors is that they can cut through a variety of fabrics without causing fraying, jagged edges or getting snagged. Part of this is down to the scissor blades being extremely sharp. Buying your scissors from a respected manufacturer should ensure that the blades are excellent quality.
If you’re sewing fine materials such as silk, satin or manmade fibres, you might want to consider serrated scissors. These help to grip the material while you’re cutting rather than push it away from you. This results in a more accurate cut and less wastage – and who wants to waste beautiful satin fabric?
How many pairs of scissors do you need?
The short answer is that you’re probably going to need more than one pair of scissors in your sewing toolkit. Here’s a picture of the cutting tools that I regularly use.
I have one pair of general-purpose shears, that I use for quilting and cutting out dress making pieces. I also have a pair of small delicate scissors that I use for applique, cutting threads and trimming seam allowances.
In addition to these scissors, I also have two specialist tools:
- The thread snipper is extremely useful for tidying up the back of patchwork and quilting pieces.
- My pinking shears have large sawtooth blades, ideal for cutting fabrics where the edge is prone to fraying. These shears should not be confused with serrated scissors, where the serrations are very small and are used to hold the fabric in place while you’re cutting it.
The difference between dressmaking shears and scissors
Dressmaking or tailors’ shears have extra-long blades that are ideal for cutting out garment pieces accurately. Traditional tailor’s shears were all metal in design, although some now have plastic moulded handles. The holes to put your finger and thumb through are always asymmetrical – being of different sizes to make the cutting action more comfortable. The angle of the handle on shears is also different, being slightly ‘bent’ so it’s easier to work through fabric that’s lying on a flat cutting table.
Scissors have shorter blades, and the two finger holes are the same size. At least that’s the strict definition… to make things difficult for us sewists and crafters, there are manufacturer’s that call their products dressmaking ‘scissors’ that fall under the definition of shears. I can only assume this is because scissors is a more popular term to use.
Great sewing scissor brands to look out for
Fiskars – They are probably one of the best-known sewing scissor brands in the UK. This Finnish company have grown a reputation for supplying high quality products that stand the test of time. As well as crafting tools, they also manufacture knives for the kitchen and cutting tools for the garden. Their distinctive orange handles are instantly recognisable against their competitors.
Kai Scissors – Are manufactured in Japan from fine stainless steel. They are a specialist scissor manufacturer and are well known in the US crafting community. I’ve not seen them at any crafting trade shows in the UK, however it’s now easier than ever to purchase their products thanks to the Internet.
Havel’s – This US company was set up by a prolific seamstress and her husband in the early 80s. She saw the need for more specialised products for sewists and the company’s enhanced designs include several patented products. They now manufacture a range of ergonomic scissors that are available from good craft shops or on the Internet.
William Whiteley – Founded in 1760, they are the oldest scissorsmiths in the western world and the last industrial scissor-maker in the UK. They supply many of the top tailors including a range of clients on Saville Row.
My choice for best sewing scissors
Below are my choice for best sewing scissors based on quality, price and comfort. I’ve divided it into to 4 categories: General purpose sewing scissors, embroidery scissors, serrated scissors and classic tailor’s shears.
1) Best general purpose sewing scissors
Fiskars Classic Universal Scissors, Length: 25 cm
I absolutely love using these scissors. They cut very cleanly and you’re able to cut along the whole length of the blade. They have stainless steel blades that can be sharpened, so I can look forward to having them for many years ahead.
They have ergonomic handles which fit my hands perfectly, making them a pleasure to use. It’s worth noting that my pair are right-handed. However, Fiskars do manufacture left-handed models.
Although these are termed universal scissors, they are nothing like the scissors you would use in your kitchen. Don’t be fooled by the name! The 15cm (6in) blades are a decent length without making them long and unwieldy. They are ideally shaped as fabric scissors.
I use them mainly for cutting cotton but have also tested them on thick denim and thinner polyester fabric. They have no problem in slicing through either of these materials.
2) Best small scissors for applique & embroidery
Fiskars Embroidery scissors
I use these fine scissors for ‘fiddly cutting’ such as cutting out applique pattern pieces, and embroidery work. Also useful for snipping threads. They’re not a replacement for cutting shears but are worthy of a place in any crafter’s toolbox.
Extremely easy to use, and perfect for precise, intricate cutting. I have to stop myself using them for cutting through paper and card!
They have symmetrical open loop handles, so are suitable for both left and right-handed users.
3) Best serrated sewing scissors
Havel’s Sew Creative Serrated Fabric Scissors
Cutting fine fabrics such as silk and sheer can be frustrating because the fabrics can ‘slip’ as you cut. That’s where serrated scissors come to the rescue. This popular model from Havel’s is no exception and there are many crafters that agree. You can accurately cut even the finest fabrics without slippage.
In addition to accurate performance, they are also amazingly comfortable to use. The plastic handles are designed to fit the shape of the hand allowing you to enjoy your hobby without discomfort. Even crafters with arthritis have reported that they’ve been able to use this model without the usual pain and discomfort they experience with other scissors.
This model comes complete with a blade cover, that’s handy to prevent accidental damage.
4) Best classic tailors’ shears
William Whiteley – 8″ Wilkinson Classic Sidebent
If you spend more time cutting out dress patterns than crafting, you may want to consider a classic pair of tailors’ shears. These come with metal handles and are sidebent to make the action of cutting fabric on a work surface easier.
These shears from William Whiteley are still produced in their factory in Sheffield factory, the home of quality steel products. Owning this product is so much more than just a ‘pair of scissors’. You’re investing in the heritage and craftsmanship of one of the UK’s truly great brands.
These would make a superb gift for a dressmaker or tailor and even come with the ability to laser etch a name or message on the shears.
The company produce both right- and left-handed scissors to suit your preference.
Have we missed out anything from our list of best sewing scissors? Let us know about you favourite products or thoughts in the comments below.