Scissors or Shears?
The basic difference between scissors and shears is the length of the blades and the shape of the handles. Scissors usually have 6-inch-long blades or shorter, while shears have blades that measures 7 inches and longer. Another difference is that scissors have equally shaped handles but shears have one small handle for the thumb and another larger handle for two or more fingers. Shears can also be identified by bent handles that facilitate cutting fabric on a flat surface; comfortable to hold for cutting, and making more precise cuts.
This popular orange-handled brand is sold almost everywhere and offers a wide price range from very inexpensive to relatively high priced. Produced in Finland out of top quality stainless steel, each faceted blade is finely tempered, ground and hardened for durability, providing a cut that is clean and accurate. Fiskars ergonomic shears are capable of cutting through thick fabrics or multiple layers of materials such as fabric, cardboard, laminate and even light metal - however, I recommend that your scissors be allocated to a specific job and then suitably labeled for that job; paper, fabrics or metal.
- AMPLIFY SHEARS have been designed specifically for cutting through thick materials; they are able to adjust to the fabric’s thickness for cutting ease. This is important for costumers cutting multiple fabrics at once or through leather.
- SOFTGRIP models feature comfortable-to-hold padded handles that also help with better control when cutting.
- RAZOR SHARP refers to the blades, and these are Fiskars sharpest. Any model featuring this name will produce the best cuts; important to know, for the most accurate cuts.
- EASY ACTION models are designed with comfort in mind; they feature a spring-action that opens the blades after each cut to reduce hand strain. Costumers suffering with arthritis or limited hand strength will find these scissors a pleasure to use.
Traditional Gingher models feature silver or gold handles and come in a wide range of blade lengths for scissors and sheers. The bent handle glides smoothly across the table top while cutting through cloth or patterns and the lightweight, loaded plastic handle provides a more comfortable grip.
The heavy steel shears feature a double chrome finish over the nickel blade to protect against irritating digs, bangs and rust. This precision-ground efficient blade cuts all the way to the points in one snip and also comes in a Left-Handed model. The 10.3-inch long shears sport an 8-inch long blade strong enough to cut through multiple layers of fabric and leave little doubt as to why Ginger shears are known as workhorses. Gingher’s product line is more limited than Fiskars, but they still include small scissors and thread cutters and are worth the investment.
Made in Japan, Kai scissors feature stainless steel and vanadium blades. Vanadium is an additive that makes the steel exceptionally strong. Similar to Ginger, the Kai scissors collection is limited but also worth the investment.
- 5000 Series includes both scissors and shears with soft ergonomic handles, and several bend handle models.
- 7000 Professional series appeal to the experienced costumer that sews extensively and needs accuracy. Blades in this series can be as long as 12 inches.
Wiss 29N Industrial Shears
Wiss is an American company that has been making scissors and shears since 1848; in fact, Wiss made shears specifically designed to cut the military uniforms worn during the civil war. Throughout the decades, the company has introduced other products such as Aviation snips for wire and metal and Quick-Clips for thread snips
These heavy black handled shears feature cutlery quality steel; the blades have a durable nickel plated finish. The inlaid or beveled cut to the bottom blade makes the shears lighter to hold while providing a sharper edge. The patented SET-EASY pivot means smooth and easy cloth cutting for several layers of thin cloth or a few layers of thick materials such as leather, denim or canvas.
Another fine product from Japan, the Shozaburo scissors and shears were developed from the tradition of Japanese cutlery; light to handle, but with an excellent cut. In fact, the technology used to make scissors is rooted in making traditional Samurai swords.
While most of the scissor-making, processes have become automated, the Shozaburo company still makes the high-grade steel blades by hand, using traditional die forging craftsmanship. The scissor blade maintains its hardness by completing a heating process; he steel is heated to the most suitable temperature, quenched or cooled and finally tempered. This process results in a blade that is both hard, and resistant to many strong shocks … like being dropped, oops.
I have to admit to not even seeing a serger until I began attending university; until then, I finished the seams on my sewing projects with pinking shears. They really helped cut down the fraying, but now pinking shears are also used to trim fabrics decoratively. Fiskars makes pinking zig-zag pattern shears from stainless steel, including soft handles to allow easier tabletop cutting and less and fatigue. The extended lower bad helps lift the fabric up and into the scissors for a clean cut that goes all the way to the blade tip. Ginghers also produces a durable stainless steel zig-zag pattern pinking shear made from double-plated chrome-over the nickel blade finish.
Serrated Edge Shears
These were new to me, but as soon as I saw them, I realized how wonderful they are when cutting slippery or delicate fabrics that seem to move all over the cutting table. Fabrics such as organza and silk often shift about when cutting; causing a misshapen edge and a frustrated costumer. The serrated edges of these scissors grip the fabric, keeping it in place when cutting.
- Rule of Thumb: It’s always wise to invest in the highest quality scissors you can afford. Spend as much as you can because price equals quality; professional Costumers need the best cut possible, every time.
- Try to hold the scissors or shears in your hand before purchasing to check for weight and comfort, also, most scissors and shears come in Left-Handed models so be sure to pick out the right hand.
- Remember too, that good tools can last a lifetime if you take care of them.
I still have my very first pair of 6-inch stainless steel sewing scissors, but I must say that I favor the new softer handles for large cutting projects. For me, the most loathsome thing in the Costume Shop is dull scissors, so strong, sharp blades that maintain their accuracy throughout a few projects win my allegiance every time.
I love that there are professional-grade tools available providing precise and clean cuts for all our work, from cutting scissors and shears to pinking shears and serrated blades, embroidery scissors and thread snips. I also love the fact that scissor handles come in almost every colour imaginable; breaking away from the tradition that all scissors are the same. With spring right around the corner, its a great time to splurge on a new pair.