- Sewing shears are essential instruments for cutting smoothly, efficiently, and precisely through fabric and notions (items used in sewing).
- They are never to be used as regular household scissors.
- Heavy-duty Gingher 8-inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears slice through fabric smoothly and precisely with sharp steel blades.
As anyone who sews will tell you, tools for cutting are invaluable. You need the best ones to ensure precision cutting and shaping of fabric pieces. Excellent cutting utensils get me through the preparations, to the stage I enjoy the most: assembling pieces to construct the final product. I’ve made clothes, costumes, appliance covers, signs, and even my wedding dress, and I couldn’t have done it without high-quality cutting implements.
But before you grab your regular scissors (the ones lying around the house to cut paper, string, tape, etc.), stop! If you plan to sew (or already sew but could upgrade your toolkit), make your life a lot easier and invest in shears designed for cutting fabric.
Although similar, scissors and shears are not the same. Scissors have blades up to 6 inches in length and two symmetrical holes for the thumb and a finger. Shears wield blades that are often longer than 6 (often 7) inches and honed to a “knife edge” to slice through layers of fabric. Shears’ handles are asymmetrical, with a small round opening for the thumb and a larger oblong opening for a few fingers. Often angled or bent, the handles are designed for operating the blades comfortably, so that there’s enough leverage to slice through layers of fabric while on a flat surface – all with accuracy and without cramping or fatigue. Believe me, when you spend hours cutting fabric, you and your hands will appreciate high-quality shears designed for sewing.
When building your sewing toolbox, consider obtaining some or all the following shear types:
- Straight: Have straight blades for cutting out pieces of fabric according to patterns and slicing through notions (e.g., trim, ribbon, bias tape, binding).
- Pinking: Have saw-toothed, serrated blades for cutting fabric and creating a zigzag edge to help prevent or at least minimize fraying (e.g., on seam allowance edges).
- Serrated: Have blades with very fine teeth that won’t damage, but grip and hold slippery and delicate fabric for accurate, even cuts. If you plan to avoid high-end delicate fabrics (like I have), perhaps you can skip this type.
- Left-handed: If you are a lefty, seek out sewing shears that are designed for left-handed users – with reversed blades (i.e., the top blade is on the left) so you don’t feel like you are pushing them apart as you try to cut. The reversed blade orientation is essential for slicing through (not just folding) material effectively and being able to see where you are cutting, while you are cutting. Also, the handles are shaped to fit left hands comfortably.
When examining any type of shear, look for quality construction, with features like:
- Steel blades: Most are made of rust-resistant, durable stainless steel. Blades of high-carbon steel are harder, stronger, sharper, and better at retaining a sharp edge. The downside is that uncoated high-carbon steel isn’t rust resistant.
- Screw assembly: The blades should be connected by a screw that enables the blades to be adjusted and separated completely for cleaning.
- Handle design: Ergonomic handles molded for comfort and grip are important; some models (plastic or rubber) are softer than others (metal).
- Weight: Some people (e.g., with arthritis) like lightweight shears for control and ease while others prefer medium- or heavy-weight shears for greater stability and leverage.
After you purchase new shears, heed this one last piece of advice: Do not use on non-fabric items. You’ll make them dull very quickly. Mark them as sewing shears only (tie a ribbon around the handles) or even hide them so no one mistakenly uses them to cut paper, hair, and other household items.
Here are the best sewing shears you can buy in 2019:
- Best sewing shears overall: Gingher 8-inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears
- Best budget shears: Singer 8.5-inch ProSeries Scissors
- Best pinking shears: Pinking Shears by P.LOTOR
- Best serrated scissors: Havel’s 8-inch Serrated Fabric Scissors
- Best for left-handed: Gingher 8-Inch Left-handed Knife Edge Bent Trimmers
Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.
The best overall
Expertly crafted and sharp, Gingher 8-inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears slice through fabric with precision and strength.
Known for its fine tailoring, Italy is also the birthplace of the Gingher 8-inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears. Hot-drop forged from high-carbon cutlery steel and then double-plated with chrome and nickel, these shears are ground and polished for a gorgeous yet durable appearance and sharp edges. The “tension point” or screw joint holding the 4-inch blades together are hand-tuned to ensure durability as well as the right fit for performance.
Described by Suzy Quilts as “reliable and traditional,” these shears are heavy-duty and look pretty conventional with metal handles that most users describe as comfortable and stronger than plastic handles. From the top of the blade all the way through the tip, they cut material with precision and force. You can carve out pieces according to patterns, maneuver around curves, and trim seams.
You also can cut long, clean lines and large swaths of fabric with ease. One Amazon reviewer says the Gingher 8-inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears “move through fabric like a hot knife on soft butter” and many agreed.
Mostcraft rates it “best for most users” and says it slices through “through double layered, thick upholstery fabric effortlessly, saving lots of time and frustration.” An Amazon customer used it to cut “through four layers of quilted material with ease.” The bent handle helps hold fabric flat on a surface for smooth, efficient, and comfortable cutting. An included nylon sheath protects the blades when they’re not in use.
Weighing about 8 ounces, the Gingher 8-inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears are a bit on the heavy side for sewing shears, which many people like for leverage and stability in cutting. On the other hand, Best Fabric Review Zone felt the shears are “too heavy,” and a few Amazon users felt they couldn’t use them for long periods of time without tiring the hand.
The Gingher 8-inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s Shears has garnered accolades from Best Reviews, Best Reviews Guide, Sewing From Home, Suzy Quilts, Mostcraft, Best Fabric Review Zone, Eco-globe, and Mary Janes and Galoshes. Among more than 1,800 Amazon reviewers, they received an average rating of 4.8 out of five stars.
Pros: Sharp and dependable, smooth precision cutting, able to slice through multiple layers of fabrics
Cons: A bit heavy
The best budget shears
A great deal, the Singer 8.5-inch ProSeries Scissors is highly affordable and effective in cutting through multiple layers of fabric.
Famous for sewing machines, Singer extends its fine brand quality to other sewing tools, including the Singer 8.5-inch ProSeries Scissors. Constructed of stainless steel, these shears have tempered blades – grounded on both sides for sharpness, smoothness in cutting, and longevity. The blades end in an ultra-fine tip for precise pattern and detail work. Singer states that each pair is inspected and hand-tested to ensure quality; the shears come with a lifetime guarantee.
With bent handles that are ergonomic, soft, and rubber-padded, these shears are comfortable to grip and use. Lightweight and easy to maneuver, they’re great for sewers with arthritic hands or who just prefer working with lighter shears. They can be a little tight when new, but loosen up with use. Sewing From Home notes that both right-hand and left-handed people can operate the Singer 8.5-inch ProSeries Scissors; several Amazon lefties confirmed this.
Although highly affordable, these shears are no slouch in terms of performance. Sewing From Home describes them as “very effective at cutting through tough fabrics.” Eco-globe says the Singer 8.5-inch ProSeries Scissors as “extremely strong, being able to cut through up to 20 sheets of paper or 6 sheets of cardboard” yet “ideal for precision cutting.” One Amazon user “cut through 16 layers of fabric. My mom, sisters, and I made rag rugs where we needed many small pieces of fabric. I folded sheets, doubled over, up to eight times!”
The shears slice cleanly through various fabrics that – as I and many sewers can attest – do not lend themselves to clean cuts, like stretchy knits (e.g., t-shirt fabric), fleece, and denim. Although I think it would be sacrilegious to use these shears on anything but fabric or notions, apparently they are good for working on crafts. Sewing From Home named this model one of “Best All-Around Sewing Scissors” and many Amazon reviewers raved about using them in their crafting.
Pros: Very affordable and effective, comfortable handle, smooth and clean cutting
Cons: Can’t be sharpened, not the most durable
The best pinking shears
Finish off raw edges and prevent fraying with Pinking Shears by P. LOTOR. These shears are sharp, easy to use, and versatile.
I can’t resist using pinking shears to trim seam allowances for a “finished” look before ironing them flat. Do you want clean (not ragged) edges that resist fraying? Then grab a pair of pinking shears, preferably Pinking Shears by P. LOTOR. Measuring 9.3 inches in total length, they have 4.6-inch-long stainless steel blades joined by a ball-bearing joint for smooth operation. They can be a little tight or stiff initially; oiling or greasing the joint will help, but be careful not to get grease or oil on your fabric.
Sharp and strong, these shears are great for trimming raw edges and leaving a zigzag pattern that helps prevent (but doesn’t completely stop) the fabric from unraveling. Like most pinking shears, the Pinking Shears by P. LOTOR are large (relative to the more streamlined straight shears) and might not be the best for fine-detail cutting. Nonetheless, they cut very well through a couple layers of light-to-medium-weight fabric and heavy material like felt. Sew Kit Kit writes that they “cut your fabric with crisp[ness] and in one long stroke.” One Amazon user says they “cut through two layers of heavy corduroy like a hot knife in butter.”
Again, I shudder at the use of sewing shears on non-fabric items, but Sew Kit Kit describes the Pinking Shears by P. LOTOR as multipurpose scissors that can be used on paper, thin plastic, and other materials for crafting projects. And again, many Amazon users confirmed this and use the shears as crafting scissors. One person even claimed to use it on very thin metal; I think that has to make the shears dull, but you do you.
The Pinking Shears by P. LOTOR have comfortable, roomy soft-grip handles. Supposedly ambidextrous (i.e., designed for left- and right-handed users), some left-handed customers reported they didn’t work as well. Weighing about 5.6 ounces, they are the right weight and heft for most people.
The Pinking Shears by P. LOTOR was ranked the top pick on Suzy Quilts and Sew Kit Kit; they snagged the second highest rank on Best Reviews Guide. Among more than 750 Amazon reviewers, these shears earned 4.3 out of 5 stars.
Pros: Sharp, versatile, compatible for right-handed and left-handed users
Cons: Heavy for some, a little stiff at first, not comfortable for all lefties
The best serrated scissors
Fine fabrics deserve a fine touch. Havel’s 8-inch Serrated Fabric Scissors holds them securely for clean cutting.
Working with extremely thin, light, and slippery fabric can be frustrating: try cutting material that keeps sliding through the blades. What you want is a pair of serrated shears. Havel’s 8-inch Serrated Fabric Scissors have stainless-steel blades with fine teeth that hold the fabric in place while it’s being cut. Although pinking shears also have serrated blades, the serrations on these scissors are extremely tiny in order to grip slippery fabric gently.
One Amazon customer describes the experience of using the Havel’s 8-inch Serrated Fabric Scissors like this: They “pull the fabric in to cut, unlike regular scissors that push the fabric out.” As a sewer myself, I understand what this person is describing. Normally, as you cut through fabric, you feel like you’re separating the fabric into two pieces that fall to the sides. Serrated scissors do the opposite so you don’t feel like you are dropping or skimming along the fabric.
While the serrated blades grip fabric for a straight cut, they also provide security and flexibility “when cutting around shapes” as one Amazon wrote. That versatility is very important since anyone who sews knows that carving curves is when any fabric tends to slip, resulting in less precise cuts. These shears work on shiny fabrics like satin and even vinyl.
Amazon reviewers like that the Havel’s 8-inch Serrated Fabric Scissors are sharp, easy to use, and lightweight (great for arthritic hands). They also are sharp, stay sharp, and cut smoothly all the way to the tip. And, these shears come with a convenient blade cover.
Pros: Lightweight, effective in holding and cutting slippery fabric
Cons: Not great for left-handed users
The best for left-handed
This left-handed version of our overall best sewing shears offers the same great features: artisanal craftsmanship, exquisite sharpness, and precise, smooth cutting.
Sewing shears that are designed exclusively and effectively for left-handed users isn’t easy to find (I would know, as I’m a leftie sewer), but Gingher 8-Inch Left-handed Knife Edge Bent Trimmers fits the bill. This pair is a true left-handed cutting instrument.
Made in Italy, they’re hot-drop forged from high-carbon cutlery steel and double-plated with chrome and nickel. Ground and polished for durability and sharpness, these shears cut through multiple layers. Sound familiar? It’s pretty similar to the left-handed version of our overall favorite.
The Gingher 8-Inch Left-handed Knife Edge Bent Trimmers cut into the fabric with ease. It has a bent handle that lets you cut fabric lying flat on a table smoothly, efficiently, and comfortably.
More than 200 Amazon users rated it an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars, with 89% awarding it 5 stars. Weighing about 8 ounces, the Gingher 8-Inch Left-handed Knife Edge Bent Trimmers are on the heavy side for shears, which many people like but some find too heavy.
Two other complaints from Amazon customers were that the included nylon sheath is shaped for right-handed shears (thus useless for left-handed shears) and Gingher’s signature tin with a molded inset for holding shears is not included.
Pros: True left-handed design, comfortable, sharp, strong
Cons: Heavy for some