Left to right: 2 embroidery scissors, button hole cutter, two trimmers,
snips, sharpening tool, 2 dressmaker shears

Dressmaker shears, pinking shears, clippers, snipers, trimmers, embroidery scissors, button hole trimmers, paper scissors, electric scissors, thread nippers, applique scissors, just to name a few, and all of these are for sewing and fabric tasks. There are scissors for yard work, kitchen work, hair cuts, surgery, wire work, garden work and other tasks you can think up. There are also rotary cutters used for fabric but today we will talk about scissors.

When you sew you will need to own several types of scissors. For your fabric you need a good pair of dressmaker shears, snipers to clip threads and seams and maybe a good pair of pinking shears. I have to admit that I have never purchased a pair of pinking shears though because I find them very hard to use. Buy the best quality scissors you can afford they will last a long time if you take care of them. As you can see not all of my scissors are expensive, for example, I have five pair of Fiscars in my house and I sharpen them myself from time to time with the sharpening tool pictured above. I would not even attempt to sharpen the expensive sets, but if I had to rebuy a pair of Fiscars it would not break the bank.  

The best way to take care of your scissors is to keep them in a safe storage area when not in use, use your scissors for the intended task, and have them professionally sharpened when needed. By proper task, I mean don't cut hair with your sewing scissors, like you would not use hair trimmer scissors to cut fabric. If you have someone who thinks it is OK to use your scissors for other tasks then it is worth the cost of having a pair of what they need on hand. I always keep a pair of paper cutting scissors handy so no one will be tempted to use the dressmaker shears on a school project. I also have a pair of hair trimming scissors so no one decides it might be OK to cut bangs with my sewing trimmers.

As you can see by the photo above there are several shapes of sewing scissors.  Embroidery scissors have a small cutting blade and the blades curve to make it easier to trim threads without making a snip in the work you just completed. Not shown here, there are also duckbill scissors which help trim fabric for applique embroidery. The wide bill on one side protects the fabric where you attach the applique. Pictured below are a pair of trimmers and dressmaker sheers, notice how the trimmers have the blades centered and the handles out on either side while the dressmaker shears have the handle bent up to one side. The bent angle of the dressmaker shears make it easier to cut fabric by having your blades parallel to the cutting surface.  

Trimmers on top, dressmaker shears on bottom
My favorite pair of scissors are the button hole cutting scissors. These are designed to cut button holes by going over the outer edge to start the cut at the beginning of the button hole and stopping before you cut through the other side. If you have ever messed up a button hole by over cutting into the garment you know what a valuable little tool this specialty pair of scissors can be. The screw on the top adjusts so that you only cut intended length of the button hole.

Button hole cutting scissors
From the Online Etymology Dictonary:

cut (v.) 
late 13c., possibly Scandinavian, from North Germanic *kut- (cf. Swedish dialectal kuta "to cut," kuta "knife," Old Norse kuti "knife"), or from Old Frenchcouteau "knife." Replaced Old English ceorfan (see carve (v.)), sniþan, and scieran (see shear). Meaning "to be absent without excuse" is British university slang from 1794. To cut a pack of cards is from 1590s. Related: Cutting.
cut (n.) 
1520s, "gash, incision," from cut (v.); meaning "piece cut off" is from 1590s; sense of "a wounding sarcasm" is from 1560s.
scissors (n.) 
late 14c., sisoures, from Old French cisoires (plural) "shears," from Vulgar Latin *cisoria (plural) "cutting instrument," from *cisus (in compounds such as Latin excisus, past participle of excidere "to cut out"), ultimately from Latin caedere "to cut" (see -cide). Spelling with sc- is 16c., from influence of Medieval Latin scissor "tailor," in classical Latin "carver, cutter," from past participle stem of scindere "to split."

Usually with pair of (attested from c.1400) when indication of just one is required, but a singular form without the -s was occasionally used (mid-15c.,cysowre). In Scotland, shears answers for all sizes; but in England generally that word is used only for those too large to be worked by one hand. Sense in wrestling is from 1904. Oh scissors! was a 19c. exclamation of impatience or disgust.
ciseaux (n.) 
1892 in dance, French (plural), literally "scissors" (see scissors).
scissor (v.) 
1610s, “to cut with scissors; 1960s with reference to leg motions (in the wrestling sense it is attested from 1968); see scissors.
snippers (n.) 
"scissors," 1590s, plural agent noun from snip (v.).
shears (n.) 
"large scissors," Old English sceara (plural), from Proto-Germanic *skær-; see shear. In 17c., also "a device for raising the masts of ships" (1620s).
piranha (n.) 
also pirana, 1869, from Portuguese piranha, from Tupi (Brazil) pira nya, variant of pira'ya, literally "scissors."


  1. Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece of information. For good haircut you need to have best quality and professional hair cutting shears. Professional hair cutting shears help a lot in every way.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Yes, things just go better when you have the right tool for the job.


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