Scissors vs. Shears Differences – In Sewing

Last Updated on March 23, 2023

When it comes to cutting fabric, choosing the right tool is important. Scissors are a common household, as well as sewing items for cutting fabric. On the other hand, fabric shears are specifically designed for cutting fabric and can make the process much easier and more precise.

Scissors vs. Shears
Image Source: Canva

While they may look similar, these two have some key differences.

Here, we’ll discuss the differences between tailor scissors and fabric shears so that, In the end, you’ll have a better understanding of which tool is right for your specific sewing projects.

Tailor Scissors

Tailor scissors are typically shorter than fabric shears, with blades that are around 6-8 inches in length. Each blade has a sharp edge on one side and a handle or finger hole on the other.

Tailor Scissors
Image Source: Canva

Tailor scissors are great for cutting small pieces of fabric, such as when you’re cutting out pattern pieces. 

They are also ideal for cutting straight lines and curves in lightweight fabrics like cotton or silk. They are also great for trimming seam allowances and cutting threads.

Useful Advice:
One thing to keep in mind with tailor scissors is that they can become dull quickly if you use them to cut anything other than fabric. So, it’s important to only use them for fabric cutting to keep them sharp.

Fabric Shears

Fabric shears, also known as dressmaker shears, are specifically designed for cutting fabric. They are longer than tailor scissors, with blades typically 7-12 inches long.

Fabric Shears
Image Source: Canva, Shutterstock

Fabric shears are great for cutting larger pieces of fabric, such as when you’re cutting out a dress or a quilt top. They’re also useful for cutting through thick or heavy fabrics, such as denim or upholstery fabric.

The design makes it easier to cut through multiple layers of fabric at once and thicker fabrics, such as wool or denim. Fabric shears are also ideal for cutting long, straight lines in fabric, such as when cutting out pattern pieces.

Useful Advice:
One thing to remember with fabric shears is that they can be heavy and tiring to use if you’re cutting for an extended period. So, taking breaks and resting your hands if you’re cutting a large project is important.

What is the Difference Between a Scissor and a Fabric Shear?

The main difference between scissors and shears is their size and purpose. Scissors are typically smaller and used for cutting smaller objects such as paper, fabric, or hair.

They have two blades of equal length and are designed to make precise cuts. On the other hand, shears are larger and used for cutting thicker materials such as leather, cardboard, or metal. They have longer blades and are designed for more heavy-duty cutting tasks.

Also, shears often have one straight blade and one serrated, which helps grip and cut through tough materials. 

We have gathered more differences by their feature below:

FeatureTailor ScissorsFabric Shears
PurposeGeneral purpose cutting, including paper, threads, and light fabricsDesigned specifically for cutting fabric
Blade LengthShorter blades, usually around 6 to 8 inchesLonger blades, typically 7 to 12 inches
Blade ShapeStraight bladesAngled blades, with one blade being slightly curved or bent
Blade SharpnessSharp but not as sharp as fabric shearsExtremely sharp, allowing for precise and clean cuts on fabric
Handle DesignSymmetrical handle, both finger holes are the same sizeOffset handle, with a larger finger hole for the thumb and a smaller one for the fingers
Cutting EdgeEven cutting edgeMicro-serrated edge on one or both blades for better grip on fabric
Cutting on Flat SurfacesNot designed for cutting on flat surfacesAngled blades allow for cutting on flat surfaces without lifting the fabric
MaterialCan be used for cutting various materialsDesigned for cutting fabric only; using them on other materials can dull the blades
PriceGenerally less expensiveMore expensive due to specialized design and materials
SINGER 00557 Sewing Scissors
Image: SINGER 00557 Sewing Scissors
Source: Amazon
Gingher Dressmaker's Shears
Image: Gingher Dressmaker’s Shears
Source: Amazon

Are Shears Better Than Scissors?

It really depends on what you’re using them for. As we said earlier, Shears are typically larger and heavier than scissors and are designed for cutting thicker materials like fabric, cardboard, or even hair.

Scissors, on the other hand, are smaller, lighter, and better suited for more precise cutting tasks like trimming paper or cutting small pieces of fabric.

So, if you’re working with thicker materials, shears may be the better option. However, scissors are likely to be more than sufficient for most everyday cutting tasks. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the specific task.

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Which One Should You Use Scissors or Shears?

The answer to which is better, scissors or shears, depends on your specific needs, the size of your hand, and the type of fabrics you will be working with. As mentioned, if you are serious about sewing, having both shears and sewing scissors is recommended, as each has its own specific purpose.

Invest in different types of shears based on the fabrics you work with most often. Pinking shears are ideal for grading seam allowances and finishing raw edges, while dressmaking shears are perfect for cutting regular-weight fabrics like cotton, silks, and lightweight denim.

Paper shears are used for cutting out sewing patterns, and tailor’s shears are best for cutting heavy materials like denim, canvas, or wool.

So, it’s about more than which one is better overall, but rather which tool is better suited for your specific needs and tasks. Start by investing in the one you are more likely to use most frequently and expand your collection as needed.


Whether you choose tailor scissors or fabric shears, having the right tool for the job can make all the difference in your sewing projects. Consider the fabric and cuts you’ll be making, and invest in a pair of scissors or shears that will last you for years to come.

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