What's the Difference Between All-Purpose Scissors and Fabric Shears?
If you've ever tried to cut fabric using all-purpose scissors, you know how difficult it can be to do. Sometimes, the fabric edges end up so mangled that you can't really use that piece for your project after all, and into the fabric scraps pile it goes. "Using the right tool for any project makes all the difference, especially when it comes to scissors for quilting and sewing," says fabric designer Carolyn Friedlander. "The reason to use high-quality scissors for quilting is that a clean cut gives you more precision and control. This is really important when seam allowance and other measurements are critical."
It's all about the sharp edges and a clean cut.
You want to be able to cut easily through the material, whether it's a thin muslin or a thick corduroy. All-purpose scissors are generally made to cut through paper and other materials that lack the "give" and resistance from fabric. In fact, you could even break the scissors if trying to slice through a piece of corduroy, for example, because all-purpose scissors don't have the right level of sharpness. Fluid, smooth, precise cuts are ideal for crafting projects with fabric. "I do a lot of appliqué so it's important to cut precise lines through multiple layers of fabric," Friedlander says. "The worst case scenario means that the wrong scissors just can't do this, or if they can, it's a struggle and your cut isn't clean or consistent through all of the layers."
Fixing the frayed edges of a bad cut on your fabric is nearly impossible to fix through sewing. That's why you need to use fabric shears, which "have higher quality blades," explains Mary Button, the crafted content planner for JOANN Fabrics. Fabric shears provide a clean cut through fabric and will last longer overall. They're also "generally longer in length than all-purpose scissors which helps with the precision," Button says.
Each tool requires proper care.
You will want to invest in a good pair of fabric shears for your projects. "A dedicated pair of fabric shears will provide longevity as well as clean, accurate cuts when working with fabric," says Button. "Scissors used for general crafting—such as cutting paper—will dull quickly and yield a jagged, rough edge when cutting fabric, or fail to cut at all."
When you get fabric shears, it's important to take care of them, too. Friedlander says to make sure to only use fabric shears on fabric and never on anything else. "Cutting paper and other non-fabric things with your sewing shears makes them dull faster, which is never good," she explains.
So, which fabric shears would the experts recommend that you use?
For Friedlander, the Professional Series line by Kai ($14.38, amazon.com) is best in quality. "Not only do they cut through fabric like butter, they can be sharpened or re-serrated as needed over time," she says. The line has different sizes for your fabric needs so you can have an entire tool box of fabric shears for every type of fabric, if you wanted.
Button recommends either the Fiskars brand ($30, joann.com) or Gingher brand ($50, joann.com). "Both brands can be sharpened to increase their lifespan," Button says. However, you can find a wide selection of fabric shears at JOANN stores, including specialty scissors for particular types of fabric.