How to choose tailor's scissors & cutting tools

Péťa  ·  30.6.2020  ·  9 minutes of reading

In today's article, I would like to share my experiences with tailor's scissors. I will give you a few tips on how to choose scissors, what to look for and I would also like to show you some special types of scissors that will definitely come in handy. I think some of you already know a lot about this topic, but on the other hand, it may be an interesting insight into the world of cutting tools for many.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky, nůžky na látku a další střihačské pomůcky nejen k šití

How to choose tailor's scissors

Let’s start with how to choose tailor's scissors, how to tell tailor's scissors from universal ones and how to find out if the scissors are of good quality.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky (kvalitní)

These are typical large tailor's scissors. Specifically Fiskars Classic 27 cm. Length means the total length - including the handle. However, the length of the blade is also an important, it is usually half of the total length. For these scissors, the length of the blade (length of the sharp edge) is approx. 13 cm. This length works fine for me, however, I sew for several hours every day, so I need the preparation process to be efficient, simple and easy on my wrists. If you sew less, and you are looking for suitable scissors, then shorter scissors will certainly suffice. Scissors with a total length of 24 cm (or even 21 cm) will serve you well.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky (kvalitní)

When you unpack and open the scissors for the first time, you will see oil on the blades. That’s good. The large amount of lubricant keeps the pin in good condition.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - promazaný šroub (olej)

Do not try to wash this lubricant. Just wipe off the excess with a dry clean cloth.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - promazaný šroub (olej)

After that, the scissors are ready for action. To be on the safe side, cut a few pieces of scrap fabric to make sure there is no oil left on the blades.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - promazaný šroub (olej)
Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - promazaný šroub (olej)

How to tell tailor's scissors from universal ones

You can also use (high-quality & sharp) universal scissors to cut the fabric. If you sew only occasionally, universal scissors will do. However, if you sew (and therefore cut) more often, then I think that quality tailor's scissors are a good investment.

If you don't need to cut often, you can use universal scissors and you probably won't find it too uncomfortable. But if you often need to cut heavier materials (thick canvas, twill, denim, softshell, etc.), tailor's scissors are a must.

When I was still going to school, I worked part-time for a few months in a small sewing workshop that focused on patchwork pillows and blankets. For several weeks, my task was to cut the fabric. At that time, rotary cutters were not used yet, so I cut (kilo)meters of fabric with scissors. At the beginning, I didn't get to sew at all. After a few days of cutting, I had large calluses from scissors. And I used big tailor's scissors. I can't imagine what my hands would look like if we only had some "ordinary" scissors there. So... If you don't need to cut often, you can use universal scissors and you probably won't find it too uncomfortable. But if you often need to cut heavier materials (thick canvas, twill, denim, softshell, etc.), tailor's scissors are a must.

How to tell tailor's scissors from universal ones?

Jak poznat krejčovské nůžky od obyčejných (univerzálních)

Tailor's scissors are able to stand on their own

The first and easiest way to find out if you are looking at tailor's scissors is to try to set them on the table bottom edge down. Tailor's scissors should be able to stand in this position, because the correct cutting technique is to slide the scissors on the surface and at cut at the same time. In order for this to be possible, it’s necessary that the scissors stay in this position even without your intervention, so you can save energy. Long cutting is strenuous for your wrist, elbow and shoulder - any little relief is highly appreciated.

Jak poznat krejčovské nůžky od obyčejných (univerzálních)

Blade shape

Another characteristic feature of tailor's scissors is the shape of the blades. Universal scissors usually have blades of the same width along their entire length. However, with tailor's scissors, the blades are wide near the pin and then get narrower towards the tips. The picture below shows universal scissors (with a floral motif) and tailor's scissors (orange). When you look at them, you can see that the blades of the tailor's scissors taper towards the tips.

The tapered blades are very useful for precise cutting of small details on all types of textile materials.

Tapered blades are great for easy and precise handling. Universal scissors are designed to cut various packaging materials and paper, and these materials are usually very stable. Compared to these materials, however, the fabrics are very lively (some are slippery, others are flexible, or soft, etc.). Tailor's scissors with tapered blades allow you to precisely cut out even small details on unstable materials of various kinds.

Jak poznat krejčovské nůžky od obyčejných (univerzálních)
How to tell tailor's scissors from universal ones
Jak poznat krejčovské nůžky od obyčejných (univerzálních)
Tailor's scissors with tapered blades
Jak poznat krejčovské nůžky od obyčejných (univerzálních)
Close-up: Universal scisors on the left & tailor's scissors on the right

The picture below shows two examples of tailor's scissors. The upper ones are scissors with a plastic handle, the total length of these scissors is 27 cm. The bottom ones are my old Japanese tailor's scissors, all-metal, 21 cm long. It can be seen that blades of both scissors taper from this point of view as well. However, this is not a telltale characteristic of tailor’s scissors - some universal scissors are also tapered like this. But what stands out from the side view is the shape of the handle. Tailor's scissors always have a lower handle large enough to fit all your fingers except your thumb. This is important for a correct grip; no finger should remain outside the handle so that the scissors can be held firmly and comfortably.

Jak poznat krejčovské nůžky od obyčejných (univerzálních)

Tailor's scissors always have a lower handle large enough to fit all your fingers except your thumb. This is important for a correct grip; no finger should remain outside the handle so that the scissors can be held firmly and comfortably.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - promazaný šroub (olej)
Correct handling of the scissors is important for precise and comfortable cutting - no finger should remain outside the handle

Quality tailor's scissors

Recognizing quality scissors is not easy. In addition to the things mentioned above, it is good to focus on other indicators.

Weight

I often get questions such as: “How do I know good tailor’s scissors? I bought some, but they are very heavy. “

If your scissors seem heavy and your hand hurts, you are probably doing something wrong.

The weight of tailor's scissors is important. As I wrote in the previous section, it is important that the scissors are able to stand on their own. The higher weight makes the scissors more stable and allows you to spend less energy on cutting. The scissors should be in contact with the table / mat when cutting, so you should not mind their weight at all. If your scissors seem heavy and your hand hurts, you are probably doing something wrong. You're probably lifting scissors off the table.

If you think you are using the right technique and the scissors still seem heavy, look for ones that have a plastic handle (instead of all-metal tailor's scissors), or choose smaller ones. Too large scissors can be a disadvantage as well as an advantage. It depends on what (and how) you want to cut.

Tightening screw (pin)

Tailor's scissors always have a screw, which allows you to tighten the blades. Universal scissors may have a tightening screw, but your tailor's scissors must have one. This means that you should also have screwdriver in your sewing toolkit. :)

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky (kvalitní)
Tightening screw

How to choose tailor's scissors - Overview

This little chart will help you distinguish between universal scissors and tailor's scissors.

How to tell tailor's scissors from universal ones

Tailor's scissorsUniversal scissors
Will standWill fall over
Tapered blades (top/bottom view)Constant-width blades
Handles big enough to fit all fingersSmall handles (identical handles - ambidextrous scissors)
Quite heavyTend to be light
Tightening screw - alwaysTightening screw - sometimes

Other useful cutting tools

Thread snip

I have several thread snips - on my cutting table, near both sewing machines and I even have thread snip in my knitting basket.

Thread snip is on the second place of my “must have” list - second only to quality tailor's scissors. When I returned to sewing years ago and renewed my equipment, I also bought a thread snip. Everyone said I had to have it, I couldn't do without it, so I bought it too. And then I had my thread snip in the drawer and didn't use it for months. I didn't want to work with it at all, because the grip is completely different than with normal scissors. I just didn't want to learn to use it. But then I started using my thread snip and today I’m one of sewers that can't go without it. I have several thread snips - on my cutting table, near both sewing machines and I even have thread snips in my knitting basket. This modern thread snip is very high quality, so it got a place right next to my main sewing machine, where it will stay forever.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - cvakačky k šicímu stroji

The thread snip is held (as shown in the picture below) differently than regular scissors. At the beginning, it is a disadvantage, because one has to learn it. But then it becomes an advantage, because if you get used to this grip, it will save you a lot of time. Thread snip is primarily used - as you might expect - to cut threads. That’s why it’s practical to keep it next to the sewing machine. Just reach for it, there is no need to slip your fingers into the handle like with scissors, and you can immediately cut off the excess thread.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - cvakačky k šicímu stroji
Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - cvakačky k šicímu stroji

Small detail scissors / Embroidery scissors

If you are not a fan of thread snips, then you should definitely have simple small (embroidery) scissors in your sewing toolkit. You can use them to cut threads and for small cuts and trimming of small details. Using large scissors can be impractical in some situations, so small scissors will come in handy. Years ago, I used ordinary manicure scissors for detailed work. But the use of such scissors is not very convenient (and it may be painful after a while), instead I can recommend using Small detail scissors.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - malé vyšívací nůžky na nastříhávaní rohů a odstřih nití

The undeniable advantage of these small scissors is the tightening screw and they will last you forever.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - malé vyšívací nůžky na nastříhávaní rohů a odstřih nití

Pinking shears

I just love pinking shears. I got my first pinking shears when I started sewing as a little girl. I still have them, even though they could use a good sharpening.

When I was little, we didn't use knits, we used woven fabrics. Overlocks were not as widespread as they are now, so it was necessary to finish edges in a different way. Pinking shears were used for this. Pinking shears have been a bit forgotten, but I believe that they will soon come to the fore again. That is why I wanted to show them to you and include them in my list of useful cutting tools. I’m using Pinking shears Fiskars.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - entlovací (Pinking shears)

Like classic tailor's scissors, it is possible to put them on their side and make your work easier.

Jak poznat kvalitní krejčovské nůžky
Jak poznat kvalitní krejčovské nůžky

Pinking shears have blades with zigzag pattern. Zigs and zags form 45-degree angles and the blades fit together perfectly. Pinking shears are used to clean the cutting edges of woven fabrics. The zigzag cutting line with many 45-degree angles prevents the edges from fraying.

Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - entlovací (Pinking shears)
Jak vybrat krejčovské nůžky - entlovací (Pinking shears)

Universal scissors

Ordinary universal scissors should not be missing from your equipment either. They are great for preparing paper patterns, for unpacking fabrics and many other things. As a true sewing enthusiast, you should be a bit of a scissor fanatic. I protect my tailor's scissors fiercely. Nothing shortens the life of tailor's scissors more than using them on things other than fabric. So, if you want the tailor’s scissors to last you a long time and cut (not chew) the fabric for years, have regular scissors for cutting things other than fabric. You can buy some really nice pieces, for example Universal scissors Fiskars - Gloria.

Jak vybrat kvalitní nůžky na papír (pro přípravu střihů k šití)
Jak vybrat kvalitní nůžky na papír (pro přípravu střihů k šití)

If you cut often, it is good that even your universal scissors are of high quality. I appreciate the comfortable handles (all my fingers can fit in the lower handle), the tightening screw and the super sharp edges.

Jak vybrat kvalitní nůžky na papír (pro přípravu střihů k šití)

The floral motif is a nice bonus, the scissors decorate my sewing table nicely.

Jak vybrat kvalitní nůžky na papír (pro přípravu střihů k šití)
Jak vybrat kvalitní nůžky na papír (pro přípravu střihů k šití)

Scissors sharpener

Another useful thing. This Universal scissors sharpener Fiskars works for both left-handed and right-handed scissors. And we appreciate that because we have a lefty in our family.

Ostřič nůžek - jak nabrousit nůžky doma (naostřit)

This simple tool will help you keep your scissors in good shape.

Ostřič nůžek - jak nabrousit nůžky doma (naostřit)

Simply insert the blades into the slots and run the scissors back and forth a few times.

Ostřič nůžek - jak nabrousit nůžky doma (naostřit)

The sharpening rollers adapt to the shape of the blade and refresh your scissors quickly.

Ostřič nůžek - jak nabrousit nůžky doma (naostřit)

Scissors for life

If you want your scissors to work well and at the same time last for many years, I have a few tips for you.

✄ If you are limited by price, you should buy smaller, high quality scissors, rather than large low-quality scissors.

♡ Take care of your scissors. Scissors can be damaged by cutting into a pin, but also by falling off the table. The scissors may open slightly, and their blades will hit each other on impact. This can create a small notch, which may not even be visible at first glance, but from then on, the scissors will “chew” the fabric.

→ An effective way to extend the life of your scissors: Hide them from other family members. For some reason, they very often attract the attention of people who need to cut some wire, "but only a thin wire, don't worry"…

And that's about it. I hope today's article will help you choose the right cutting tools. I hope that today's article was interesting for you. If you liked it, I would be glad if you let me know about it in the comments.

Many thanks to Fiskars. for providing the tools featured in this article.

Have a nice day, Peťa