sewing scissors with knit fabric

The best sewing scissors for you

I’m pitting my favorite scissors against each other. By the end of this, we’ll see who deserves the title of the best sewing scissors. (I feel like you should say that and there’s this big dramatic echo…)

We sewists use our scissors all the time. For clipping, for cutting out, for trimming seams. Scissors are probably our most important tool in our sewing room.

Hence the ire that comes when a loved one dares to think of using them to cut paper. So here’s full reviews of several different scissors and some tests I ran them through to see who would reign supreme among the sewing scissors.

On with the epic scissors battle!

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What should I look for in the best sewing scissors?

There’s a lot of subjectivity here when talking about scissors. What works for me and my hands won’t necessarily be your top pick.

With that in mind, I firmly believe that the best sewing scissors for you fit 3 criteria:

  • They’re the sharpest possible
  • They cut the kind of fabric you use
  • Your hands + those scissors = happy face

Let me break those down a little bit.

sewing scissors
From top to bottom: Kai 7230, Gingher lightweight 9″ bent trimmers, Mundial 870-8KE, Kai 7250SE

Keep your scissors sharp

Whatever scissors you have, keep them as sharp as possible. A couple times a year, spend a couple bucks and take them to be professionally sharpened.

A lot of fabric stores have a repair person who will come in to sharpen scissors and tune up machines.

You can also check out local knife vendors. I know there’s a guy who comes to the farmer’s market by my house in the summer who does an exceptional job with sewing scissors.

Your scissors are a precision instrument. Treat them with respect and they will do a better job for you!

Do your scissors cut the kind of fabric you cut?

Most sewing scissors will cut about anything, but there’s a few types of fabric that do better with different properties.

I love a micro serrated edge for slippy fabrics like chiffons and silks.

Also thicker fabrics might do better with a slightly heavier weight scissor. As I was going through my tests, I definitely noticed that trend.

The best sewing scissors are comfortable in your hands

I do not have big ole man hands. I have small lady hands and I’m a violinist on top of that. It’s important for me to keep my hands flexible and pain-free at all costs.

hand with kai 7230 shears

As such, larger tailoring scissors are really bad on my hands. They’re just too heavy for me to handle.

True story: I actually once took back a pair of Gingher dressmaking shears to the store. The lady at JoAnn thought I was crazy, but after a day of extreme hand fatigue, I knew that I couldn’t hold on to that pair.

Finding a good pair of scissors is a bit like shopping for a good kitchen knife. You have to try stuff out and work with them a little bit before you know what’s best for you.

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One thing you’ll come across in your search for the best scissors is the confusion over scissors vs. shears.

Officially they are different. Scissors have equal sized holes that are symmetrically placed, and the blades are usually shorter in length. 6″ and under is what Knife Center tells me.

Shears on the other hand have 1 smaller hole and one large hole and can be quite big. That big hole is for your other fingers to go in which gives you more control over your cutting. Blades on shears can be 6″ long up to 13″ or longer.

Most of us use shears when we’re cutting fabric .

That being said, are you going to call your favorite pair “shears” in casual conversation?

Me neither. I’ll probably always call them scissors unless I need to refer to them by their proper Christian name of something like “professional dressmaking shears.”

With that background, let’s give you a rundown of some great scissors shears.

Gingher 9″ lightweight bent trimmers

These are lighter weight Ginghers than Gingher’s traditional dressmaking shears. The nylon handles are a big part of the lighter weight.

They’re quite comfortable in hand and they sharpen up well. Here’s the Gingher specs:

ScissorsGingher 9″ bent trimmers
DescriptionMolded nylon handles, stainless steel knife edge blades, mine are marked Germany, but I’ve seen other pairs made in Taiwan
BenefitsOnly 4 7/8 oz. (138 g), sharp to the tip, can cut through multiple layers
Recommended forAll-purpose fabric cutting, trimming seams

These were my first good pair of scissors. I read a recommendation for them in Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules sewing (see sewing books for beginners for the full review). She had mentioned that her mom uses these because she prefers the lighter handle over Gingher’s classic all metal shears.

I have to agree. These feel great in hand. At times I do wish they were sharper, but they sharpen up easily, and you can use them all day without fatigue. They really only fail on the heaviest fabrics where they require a lot of effort to slice through.

For the price and the comfort, these are an excellent budget pick for great sewing scissors.

Mundial 870-8KE 8″ dressmaking shears

ScissorsMundial 870-8KE 8″ dressmaking shears
DescriptionMade of hot-forged chrome plated carbon steel, 6 3/8 oz. (182 g), Made in Brazil
BenefitsThat nice cutting sound, truly sharp all the way to the tip, beautiful clean cuts
Recommended forHeavier fabrics

The husband of one of my good friends is an avid historical cosplayer who works heavily with leather. I asked for a pair of these for Christmas after trying out his and being impressed with the cutting ability.

These are heavier than my favorite scissors, so I wouldn’t personally use them for long periods of time. My hand definitely experiences some fatigue using them.

There is a screw that you can use to adjust the open action on the scissors. I’ll have to try that another day and see if that makes a difference.

I will say that it’s almost worth it for the way the Mundials slice through fabric. They make a beautiful sound and the cuts are so clean. Use them for things like denim or wool.

Kai 7230 9″ professional dressmaking shears

ScissorsKai 7230 9″ professional dressmaking shears
DescriptionMade of high carbon stainless steel in Japan, 6 1/8 oz (174 g)
BenefitsSo.much.sharpness. Easy to open
Recommended forHeavier fabrics, all-purpose fabric cutting

I had heard the buzz about Kai scissors for a while and decided to invest in a pair.

All I have to say about Kai scissors in general is that when you crack open a pair and get to work, it will be a revelation. You’ll literally stop in your tracks and find yourself saying,

“I’m pretty sure I’ve been cutting all my fabric up until now with what must be rusty garden scissors.”

These scissors are wicked sharp, but even better, they’re easy to handle. The effort that it takes to open and close them is almost zero. Even though they’re slightly heavier than the lightweight Ginghers, they’re easier to use for this reason.

If you have small hands like me or need a scissor that won’t cause hand fatigue, these scissors are a worthwhile investment.

Kai 7250SE 10″ serrated professional shears

ScissorsKai 7250SE: 10″ serrated professional shears
DescriptionMade of high carbon stainless steel in Japan, 7 1/2 oz (216 g)
BenefitsEasy to open, serrated edge grips slippy fabrics
Recommended forchiffon, silks, satin and other fabrics that tend to slide on you during cutting

The Kai 7250SE shears are a bit specialized, but easily become a favorite.

The easy open handles and the super sharp blades do a fantastic job of cutting your fabric without taxing your hand. Kai really gets that keeping your hands pain-free is a big deal when choosing scissors for sewing.

One of the frustrating things about cutting fabric like chiffon is how blades can slip. All that slipping can mean that you get chewed up edges that are not at all pretty.

The micro-serrated blades on these scissors instead grip onto the edge of fabrics. Even the most finicky of slip-n-slide fabrics is not problem for these bad boys.

The only downside to these scissors is that you have to send them into Kai to be sharpened. The serrated blades means they need special care that you should only leave to the manufacturer. I’ve been told too that if Kai has a booth at a local sew expo, they can sharpen them there as well.

The cutting test for all the scissors

All of my scissors had to go through cutting:

  • Denim: 4 layers
  • Wool coating: 2 layers
  • Upholstery fabric: 2 layers
  • Fleece: 2 layers
  • Poly/rayon/spandex blend knit: 2 layers
  • Cotton quilting fabric: 2 layers on curves
  • Chiffon: single layer

It should be noted that all of the scissors got through all the fabrics with clean cut edges. The only difference for any test was how easy it was for each pair to cut through the given fabric.

Fabric cutting test results

Winners get an *, and there’s little notes where they make sense.

Gingher Mundial Kai 7230 Kai 7250se NOTES
Denim * 4 layers was rough on all, but the SE Kais maintained control
Wool * Kais sliced through like butter!
Upholstery * Kai wins with ease and speed
Fleece ** Kai and Gingher tied for accuracy and ease.
Knit **** No losers here!
Cotton ** Ginghers were easiest on curves, Kai SEs gripped curves with impressive accuracy
Chiffon *** Mundials were the only ones that struggled. Ginghers cut well, but required extra attention.

So who would win? Which are the best sewing scissors overall?

This is a tough choice. All of these scissors have their strengths and weaknesses.

The best budget buy in my mind is the Gingher 9″ lightweight trimmers. They combine a lot of the benefits of a lightweight scissor while still being relatively sharp.

The best overall winner has to be the Kai 7230 shears. These are such a delight to use.

Bonus: they’re so friendly to your hands which are after all your best tool and the ones you need to protect! For a bit of an investment, these are the shears I’d recommend to anyone.

More sewing tools to check out:

11 helpful sewing tools
11 helpful sewing tools

Just the useful ones that’ll make you a better sewist!

Sewing machine vs. serger
Sewing machine vs. serger

Pitting both against each other and seeing who’s better.

Fabric marking tools
Fabric marking tools

For every kind of fabric + old reliable methods for the tricky fabrics

1 thought on “The best sewing scissors for you”

  1. Your article and research really helped me “what scissors/shears for which fabrics! Thanks so much! Happy Sewing everyone!

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