Blade Runner

Sewing Scissors

There comes a time in a Sewist’s life when you hope no one ever asks how many lethal objects you own.

But these aren’t weapons, Officer. They’re my hobby!

Let’s continue this conversation in the interview room, shall we?

I decided to organise my scissors, from left to right, in order of acquisition.

Pinking scissors. My mum lent these to me when I began my sewing career four years ago. Hmmm, I really should give them back and buy some of my own…

Dressmaking scissors. A competitively priced John Lewis own brand pair of dressmaking shears. Good enough, they saw me through several years but they quickly began to feel a bit blunt and lightweight.

Rotary blade. Bought off eBay along with a cutting mat, these transformed my life. Terrifyingly sharp, I could also use these on my table rather than crawling around on the floor. My joints were immensely grateful!

Cath Kidston haberdashery scissors. Blunt old household scissors became frustrating when it came to cutting out paper patterns. I bought these and issued a rule. Not To Be Used For Any Task Other Than Cutting Out Patterns.

Merchant and Mills tailor shears. These were requested as a Christmas present – and what a gift! With the heft of a bar of gold (or thereabouts) and a super sharp blade, these are my prized possessions. Worth every penny – of someone else’s money.

Thread snippers – two pairs. You can never have enough of these.

Duck billed platypus. Oh no – that’s an extinct creature. I mean, duck billed applique scissors. Aimed at quilters, they’re very good for grading seams. They’re also really sharp and I find them fantastic for snipping notches.

Gingher micro-serrated scissors. Perfect for cutting out silk. Apparently. Haven’t actually used these yet, so the jury’s out!

Gingher tailor’s point scissors. Bit underwhelmed by these, if I’m honest. I mean, I already have eight other pairs of scissors!

So, if I had to boil this all down to one essential pair of scissors, which would it be? No debate – the Merchant and Mills tailor shears. They are a class act. Made from Sheffield steel, what else could you expect?

Problem is, once you discover the delights of a sharp blade, there’s no looking back. Officer, I didn’t do it….!

Do you have a pair of dressmaking blades you’d recommend?

Sheffield England

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59 Responses to Blade Runner

  1. Woah those are expensive scissors! (I mean your favourite ones.) Maybe I will get some one day… Mine were free with my sewing machine!

  2. Tricia says:

    The platypus is not extinct! It has been a couple of years since I’ve seen one in the wild but I know they’re still out there.

    I love the look of those big heavy shears.

  3. love my fiskars 8″ so much i bought a lefty pair for my spouse. i am also fond of some teeny embroidery scissors i picked up at a craft fair, no idea who made them, but the handles is purple.

  4. Emma Jayne says:

    Thought I’d stumbled across a blade amnesty but no, just Karen showing off her scissor arsenal! I couldn’t live without my left-handed Fiscars fabric scissors.

  5. Sew in a frenzy says:

    Just when I’d talked myself out of the Merchant and Mills tailor shears (with red handle) this evening, I read this and once more I am convinced I need them. Thank you for this, I now feel justified in my purchase.

  6. Melanie says:

    What a great collection! I need to invest in some better shears. Oh, the duck billed platypus is very much alive and well here in Australia with me….very hard to spot one in the wild in Australia they’re around.

  7. LadyxBec says:

    I don’t love any of my scissors – although at a quick count I have 6 pairs! What I really need is a pair of high quality shears that won’t go blunt on me

  8. Our collection of sewing scissors is truly precious. When my kids left home and a(male) friend came flatting with me I made it very clear that using my sewing scissors round the house was a capital offence punishable by castration! At first he didn’t beleive me….

    • but now his voice is high and squeaky?? 😉

    • sassy02 says:

      I feel the same way about my sewing shears and tools, no one is allowed to use them, I keep cheaper ones around for others to use. I’m a retired hairstylist and I hold true to my hair scissors and tools as well some people do not understand the ” why” behind the rules of scissors & shears, but to be used by others and or on paper so on, can throw them off balance and dull them, when you pay good money for your tools you want them to last. I am lucky I guess being left handed so are all my scissors and shears easier to say no when someone wants to use them.

  9. I recently bought a pair of spring action ginghers, 8″ and they were worth every penny (but not super expensive). I have carpal tunnel and the spring action really helps. I was struggling with the cheap Janome pair I bought when I started. I really don’t like cutting so decided to invest in decent scissors and it really has made a difference

  10. BeaJay says:

    Love my rotary cutters, I left them behind on my sewing weekend away and deeply regretted it. Had my large and expensive scissors with me but much prefer to use the rotary to cut.

  11. Kathy Lynch says:

    Ah, good ol’ Sheffield steel, hey? The Brits make the best of ALOT of things! Mine are “Still Teaching the World to Sew” Singer 8″ shears (retail about AUD50)….& they came in a cute retro tin too! They cut beautifully & as much as I love them, there are times I think 10″ shears would be even better. Mmmmm, Merchant & Mills…….

  12. Jan Carr says:

    Teeth? Though with advancing age getting more and more nervous about using mine. Will take your advice and get some thread snippers!

  13. jen says:

    i saw a platypus about a month ago..lucky me (tidbinbilla nr Canberra, Australia)! i bought the amazing KAI 7250… like cutting silk with a samorai sword! THE BOMB i tell you! x

  14. Eileen says:

    I love my Gingher scissors. Everyone who sets eyes on them comes away saying “Ok, Ok, I got it. Fabric only. I won’t use your precious scissors….”. I haven’t had them sharpened yet and know I should soon, but I’m terrified to hand them over to someone! I’ve got a rotary blade too that I’ll use sometimes for quilting or long straight cuts. I don’t have a dedicated pair of pattern cutting scissors but it sounds like a great idea as my “all purpose” scissors have started chewing through tissue paper patterns more so than cutting them….

  15. LK says:

    I love this. I was just looking at my thread snips thinking, If a burglar comes into the house, these will get the job done.

  16. Barbara says:

    This is so true, weapons indeed. I love my little embroidery scissors, the handles are the body of a crane and the beak the blades. I wear them on a ribbon round my neck. My husband has commented on my lack of need for more jewellery (he’s not quite right there). I also wouldn’t be without my fiskars and my rotary cutter. Those Merchant and Mills scissors sound amazing, something to aspire to. And I must agree with Tricia, nothing extinct about the platypus.

  17. Sewer from across the Pond says:

    I have several pairs of scissors and shears, most of which are Ginghers (dressmaker shears, tailor points, regular and duckbill appliqué and micro-serrated shears). The micro-serrated shears are great on super slippery fabric like Bemberg. I also have rotary cutters in three sizes and with a couple of different blades.

  18. Amanda Bergamin says:

    Platypus are not extinct. My weapon collection is larger I have a weakness for scissors

  19. smashandme says:

    I recently moved and it feels like every box I unpacked has a pair of scissors in it! My favs are a huge old fashioned black shears that my Mum gave me (left behind by an old tenant I think). They are well loved, hefty but slightly-scary-sharp so I imagine they have a history of being well guarded from paper cutting for a few decades.

  20. sewsable says:

    I love my Kai shears; comfortable and accurate. I go to them over my Mundial set any day, though the Mundial are serrated so are good for slippery fabrics. I also love my Clover circular cutter and my Gingher duck bill and embroidery snips.

  21. senjiva says:

    Uh oh, I think I qualify for “armed and dangerous” if I count up the amount of sharp sewing room tools. For every single day use, i mostly use my 3.5″ Gingher embroidery scissors and my lightweight Gingher fabric shears (with the plastic outsides); as well as my trusty old Gingher dressmaker shears from 1995 that were standard-issue in my fashion course. I dropped fashion school, but the scissors stayed with me. Also, the 25mm rotary cutter is very useful.

  22. Jenny L says:

    Ooh yes I have put those Merchant and Mills on my Christmas list again. I love my little Fiskars embroidery scissors. They get in all the teeny, tiny corners. I bought a pair of cheap scissors for a £1 just for paper and they are still super sharp after 2 years and I can cut fabric as well with them. I wish I could remember where I bought them from, probably Pound shop or something similar.

  23. Jenny L says:

    I also have a pair of those applique scissor which I use for turning a narrow hem. Fold hem half an inch, sew as close to the fold as possible, use the scissors to trim close to the stitching and then turn a small hem again and stitch. Before those scissors it was easy to cut the through the lower fabric.

  24. Fooniks says:

    I just bought a new pair of Fiskars tailors shears. They are the second pair from Fiskars, I’ve got. The last pair was a medium size tailors shears, now I got the biggest they’ve got. And they are awesome. Sharp scissors make all the difference in the world. Now that I have two pairs, I can send one pair to get sharpened when they get blunt and don’t have to anxiously wait for them to return because I have another pair to work with.

  25. Jane says:

    Impressive Karen! One question, are the Merchant and Mills shears heavy to use? I have some lovely tailors shears but they’re almost too heavy for my crappy weak wrists to handle, so I don’t use them too often. Which is a big shame as they’re great. x

  26. Suse B says:

    John those thread snippets are genius and exactly what I need! Where did you find them?
    Don’t think duck-billed platypuses (platypi?!) are extinct… they’re super cute too.

  27. The Gingher serrated scissors are also very good for cutting out knits, so you know.
    An enviable collection you have here. I’m soon to be sending off my tailor’s shears for sharpening, and I’m getting strangely emotional at the thought of parting with them.

  28. I can’t hope to compete with that array. The oldest pair of scissors in my line-up, namely those that I was given back in primary school for dressmaking lessons, are probably the best that I own; but they are a bit small for cutting large amounts of fabric. Also, I find those little thread snippers to be remarkably fiddly and am genuinely baffled by their popularity. 🙂

    On our hundred-acre bush block, we had platypuses in the creek. I’m told they’re still there.

  29. fabrickated says:

    This is interesting! I still use my tailors shears that cost £26 in 1986. Do you, or anyone else, have any advice on getting their shears and scissors sharpened?

  30. Poppy says:

    love the platypus scissors, been looking at a giant pair of sheers and think I’m just going to have to jump for the M & M sheers! I use a large pair of fiskars and a smaller pair of John Lewis for snipping.

  31. Angela says:

    Looking at that photo made me feel better for my collection. Until I did a count and realised that I have seven pairs of scissors plus a rotary cutter. Although one pair of shears date back to the eighties and they all get used. Love my duck billed scissors and the rotary cutter.

  32. S says:

    Wow! I feel so inadequate with my two pairs of dull shears and two seam rippers. 🙂

  33. Bellbird says:

    Your collection is very impressive! I’m particularly intrigued by those platypus numbers. May have to investigate further at my local habby.

  34. Fadanista says:

    I have my own stash of scissors, but then acquired my Mum’s when she went into a home – she has serious scissors – Dirlams Solingen (German, old, heavy) and another pair made in Edgware, England. My prized possessions.

  35. Helen says:

    I have those same John Lewis scissors, and am happy with them. I should probably never try some better ones though…

  36. LinB says:

    I’m happiest with Fiskars shears and scissors. Sharpest for the weight that I can afford — if you do a great deal of cutting, you’ll appreciate the lightness. Easy to sharpen at home, yourself. I know that a good, heavy bit of steel is also a fine thing to own, but my hand tires too quickly with a heavy pair of shears. This is not merely a problem for the old and decrepit, as am I.

  37. Love this post. When I reorganised my sewing space I hung all my scissors on hooks and my best beloved said scathingly ” what on earth do you need all those scissors for?” Ha! He nearly got a clip round the ear for that!

  38. surfjewels says:

    Definitely keeping a pair of scissors just for sewing is the way to go, I keep mine away from anything but fabric.


  39. Joanne says:

    I have a ‘fairly’ expensive pair of sewing scissors (around the $50 mark). But they are in desperate need of sharpening (don’t use your good scissors on fleece if you can help it, I find it’s worse than cutting paper qua dulling blades). So for the last couple of years, instead of finding a place to get them sharpened, I have been buying new multi-purpose scissors every half year or so.

  40. Hayley says:

    Can’t deny, I gave a little cheer when I saw the Sheffield steel – then instantly became ashamed when I realised that none of my craft scissors are Sheffield steel. Must sort that out!

  41. redsilvia says:

    Oh honey, that is one lethal arsenal. Personally, I still use the Gingher 8″ knife edge dressmaker scissors I bought as an FIT student one billion years ago. The knife sharpener guy exclaimed “those are good scissors” when he sharpened them. I nodded knowingly, as one does.

  42. Irene says:

    My Kai scissors are unbeatable! Like cutting butter,,,

  43. Sylvie says:

    Your posts make me chuckle so much!

    I love my rotary blade. The blade was getting blunt. I read a tip about running the blade over tin foil that had been folded many times. It worked! Cut the fabric like a dream…

  44. Judy says:

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned the vast array of lovely scissors available from the sampler guild ( There’s a link to their scissor page from their home page. They are just for thread cutting, but such lovely designs, finishes and colours. I have the Cathedral Scissors and a pair of matte black Primitive Little Gems – about 2″ tall and ideal for travel sewing kits. Now I’ve had another look, I’m sure I “need” another pair!

  45. I have just five pairs. But my favourite are a small pair of thin bladed but sharply pointed thread cutters. They have made my seam ripper redundunt -they are fabulous.

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  47. JanB says:

    A lovely display of your cutting tools. I read in some of the responses that some people have blunt tools and tended to discard rather than sharpen them. I prefer to recycle where possible. Do you have a preferred sharpening method and could you please recommend a reliable sharpening service in Melbourne?
    Thank you

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