Cutting anything other than fabric with sewing scissors is often touted as a serious crime. Crafters everywhere joke about how bad it would be to cut paper with their prized fabric scissors. But does cutting paper dull fabric scissors?
Yes, cutting paper will dull sewing scissors. Scissors specifically designed to cut fabric have a sharp edge that abrasive elements in paper dull. That is why scissors made for cutting paper have a dull edge.
Let’s take a look at what makes fabric scissors different from other kinds of scissors. We’ll also explore how to sharpen fabric scissors and ways to make them last longer.
What Are Fabric Scissors?
Fabric scissors, also called sewing scissors, are sharp scissors specifically made for cutting fabric.
Their sharpness makes them similar to scissors for cutting hair or performing heavy-duty work. However, due to their refined edge, cutting almost anything other than fabric with sewing scissors can dull them.
There is a slight difference between fabric scissors and sewing shears, but the words are often used interchangeably. Sewing shears, technically, are scissors with cutting blades longer than six inches.
When looking for general fabric scissors it often does not matter much if they are listed as fabric scissors or shears. However, due to their size, shears tend to have more cutting force and are heavier for can cut through thicker or layered fabric.
Difference Between Fabric Scissors And Paper Scissors
The primary difference between fabric scissors and paper scissors is their sharpness. Paper scissors usually have a blunt edge.
While having a dull edge works great for paper, it does not work for heavier materials like fabric. If you try cutting through fabric with paper scissors, you will usually end up tearing the fabric rather than actually cutting it.
Due to the fabrics’ thickness and durability, the scissors must be sharp. Otherwise, you will get ragged edges or just rip and damage the fabric.
Paper scissors are dull and tend to need less upkeep and are commonly cheaper. This makes it all that more important that expensive fabric scissors are not accidentally used on paper.
Does Cutting Paper Dull Fabric Scissors?
Yes, cutting paper will dull your fabric scissors. So, if you have high-quality sewing scissors you should avoid cutting paper or anything else with them.
While you can cut some paper just fine with your fabric scissors, it will eventually dull them. This is due to the harsh minerals and materials that go into the paper. The stiffening agents in most papers are the worst offenders.
In particular, abrasive materials like talc and kaolin clay damage and dull fabric scissors. The sharp edge of sewing scissors is simply not made to take damage like that.
Cardboard and similar materials should also be avoided. In short, do not cut anything other than fabric with fabric scissors.
If you end up accidentally cutting paper or anything other than fabric, not all is lost. While it will dull the scissors, it is fairly easy to sharpen them.
How to Sharpen Fabric Scissors
There are a variety of methods for sharpening fabric scissors. Thankfully, quite a few methods are fast and include materials you probably already have at home.
The most popular methods for sharpening your sewing shears at home are the aluminum foil and sandpaper methods. You can also sharpen your scissors using a sharpening stone or scissor sharpener, or take them to a commercial sharpener.
Aluminum Foil or Sand Paper Method
All you will need to sharpen your fabric scissors is a piece of foil or 150 to 200 grit sandpaper (or finer), the scissors you want to sharpen, and a piece of scrap fabric.
The steps are as follows.
- Fold your sandpaper with the rough sides out. If you are doing this with foil instead, it does not matter which side is facing out.
- Cut through the sandpaper or foil with your sewing shears. Make sure both blades make contact with the rough side of the sandpaper.
- Make at least 10 cuts then test your scissors on your scrap fabric.
- If the shears cut easily, you are good to go! If not, continue to cut the sandpaper or foil and test the sharpness until you are happy with the blades.
Believe it or not, this method really does work for improving your scissors! It mainly hones the blades and sharpens them slightly.
This method is best for upkeep, not for restoration. It is especially good for helping scissors cut better on a budget. This method does not sharpen the blade a lot, so if your blades are extremely dull you should send them to a professional.
You can see a video of this method:
If you have already tried to sharpen your shears and were not happy with the results, you can send them off or take them to be professionally sharpened. This is also a great option if you do not want to sharpen your fabric shears yourself.
Having fabric scissors professionally sharpened is more expensive than sharpening your own scissors, but they are often in better condition.
Depending on who you send the scissors to, the condition of the shears, and their quality, the services may not cost much. On average, having your scissors professionally sharpened will cost less than $30.
If you buy high-quality sewing shears, the price of having the scissors sharpened is less than the cost of buying a new pair.
How To Keep Your Scissors Sharp
The best way to keep your scissors sharp is prevention. Do not use your sewing scissors on anything other than fabric. Likewise, try not to drop your scissors or bend them.
Cleaning and oiling your scissors is also important. This keeps scissors working well when you are cutting and helps them last longer.
The aluminum foil or sandpaper method is a great option for general upkeep. If you notice it is getting harder to cut with your scissors, use it to sharpen your scissors.
If you use your scissors often, you can also use a sharpening stone or scissor sharpener to give them a good sharpening. It is a good idea to sharpen them this way every few months.
If you have good sewing scissors, you should also send them off to a professional every few years. While professionals mainly sharpen the blades, they also clean them. This will help keep the scissors sharp and working well in the long run.
Best Scissors For Cutting Fabric
While it is best to try scissors before you buy them, you can order great scissors online. Here are a few options.
Gingher 8-Inch Knife Edge Dressmaker’s ShearsGingher 8-Inch Knife Edge Shears are great quality sewing shears from one of the best-known brands in fabric scissors. Gingher has been making quality scissors since 1947 and is known for its classic and effective scissors.
These shears have a double-plated chrome-over-nickel blade finish, making them durable and sharp. However, the material also makes them slightly heavier, a total of 7.2 ounces.
Their bent handle design helps get a straight cut, especially since the entirety of the blade is very sharp.
The scissors come with a cover that fits them perfectly, making them easier to store and keep the blade in good condition, and prevents accidents.
Gingher also offers timely sharpening and cleaning services for all their scissors. So if having easy access to professional sharpening is a concern, these shears are a good fit for you.
- All metal
- Comes with a cover
- Bent handle
- Hard grip
Kai 5210 8-inch Dressmaking ShearsOverall, the Kai 5210 8-inch Dressmaking Shears are a great option for beginners. Not only are they a fair price for the quality, but also made with sturdy stainless steel.
They have an 8-inch blade making them technically shears, not just by title. So you will easily be able to cut through thick fabric with them.
The handles are made of plastic, which is fine, but the tab may pinch. Additionally, the handles are large and probably not suited for people with small hands.
Kai is known for having a unique formula that gives scissors good durability. These shears are also light and easy to handle due to the mix of materials.
- Affordable for the quality
- Stainless steel
- Bent handle
- The handle will not suit everyone
- Large size
What to Look for When Buying Fabric Scissors
There are four things you should look for when buying a pair of sewing scissors. They are:
Let us take a closer look at all these aspects, so you can choose the best possible fabric scissors for you.
The blade is arguably the most important facet of sewing scissors. The most common kinds of sewing scissor blades are carbon steel or stainless steel. Both are good options, but some people will have specific preferences.
Carbon steel blades are sturdy and hold their edge very well, so they are often used by professionals. However, they are also often very heavy and expensive.
Stainless steel is another common option. Stainless steel scissors are lighter and tend to be cheaper, so they are generally a good option for beginners. While stainless steel holds its sharpness fairly well, carbon tends to hold it better.
Blades can also come serrated or similar to make different designs in the fabric. If the scissors are serrated on one side, it also helps to grip and cut through thicker fabric.
The overall scissor size does not matter as much as the blade size. If you are working with large fabrics having large blades on your scissors helps cut down on the time and effort you need to put in.
If you have particularly small hands, scissors with small blades may suit you better. Likewise, larger sewing sheers may be good for sewists with big hands.
If you are looking for general fabric scissors, pick scissors that fit your hands well and are comfortable to hold.
The handle is one of the key factors in choosing comfortable sewing scissors. Do you like plastic handles or metal handles? What shape do you like them to be?
If you are buying sewing scissors in person, make sure to try them out and see how they feel in your hand.
Use some scissors you already have at the house to see what you like most. It does not matter what kind of scissors they are, just try to figure out what you like about them. Once you figure out what qualities make them comfortable to you, look for fabric scissors with similar qualities.
If you are looking for sewing scissors that will last, it is very important to look at the quality.
Popular fabric scissor brands include Kai, Fiskar, and Gingher. However, the brand does not always indicate quality.
Be careful not to think you are buying a quality product when you are actually buying style. Embroidery scissors especially tend to be available in designs that make them look fancy when they are actually flimsy or difficult to hold. A common example of this is scissors shaped like storks or other birds.
If the style is something important to you, that is fine. Just be aware that you will likely pay more for fancy or stylized scissors.
While not all sewing scissors will have a warranty, guarantee, or return policy, some of them will. Many of them will have a satisfaction guarantee or something similar.
This is more important to look for if you are buying sewing scissors online. Since you cannot actually hold the scissors and feel their weight, make sure there is a return or similar policy in case they do not end up working out.
If you are buying high-value scissors, it is also good to look for any kind of lifetime warranties. Some companies will include a lifetime of free cleanings, sharpenings, or other maintenance.
It is not necessary by any means to have a warranty on your sewing scissors, but it is something to look for.
Can I Use My Sewing Scissors To Cut Hair?
Due to their sharpness, you can use sewing scissors to cut hair. However, it will likely damage or dull your fabric scissors. Likewise, hair may get caught in the scissors and damage them.
However, if you do not want to buy quality scissors specifically for cutting hair, you can use fabric scissors. Fabric scissors make a good substitution for hair cutting scissors because both sewing and hair scissors are very sharp.
If you try cutting your hair with paper scissors or other not sharp shears, you will tear your hair, not cut it.
If you plan on cutting hair often, it is best to invest in scissors specifically for cutting hair. If hair cutting scissors are out of your price range, fabric scissors will work. Just make sure you have a separate pair of sewing shears for your crafts.
You should not use your fabric scissors to cut anything but fabric. While they might cut through other items fine, it will dull them.
If you do cut something else with your fabric scissors, you can either sharpen them yourself or have a professional sharpen them. While sharpening them yourself works, sending them off usually results in sharper scissors.
Keep your fabric scissors sharp by using them only on fabric, sharpen them regularly, and take proper care of them. Not only will good care keep them sharp, but it will also help them last longer.
When buying new sewing scissors, look for blade size, a comfortable handle fit, quality, warranty, and a suitable weight. With good care, quality fabric scissors can be passed down for generations.