Cutting tools are a necessity in any sewing room. The types of cutting tools that you use will be more of a preference, and you will find certain brands that work best for you. Here you will find an overview of some important cutting tools to consider for your sewing space.
There are many different types and sizes of cutting shears/trimmers/scissors available to the home sewer today. There are many, many brands available, such as Gingher, Kai, Fiskars, and Mundial (just to name a few!). I like to have at least one great pair of 8” straight blade scissors on hand, and I have a few extra pairs “just in case” my main pair go missing. Prices for scissors range greatly, so don’t worry if you don’t have a large budget for cutting tools. My personal favorite in my arsenal is a pair of Rifle Paper Co. scissors that I got in an office supplies set.
Straight blade scissors come in several lengths, with the more popular being 8″-10″ in length. You can get some with bent handles for ease of handling. There are also super sharp pairs that come with their own cover to protect you from being cut (like my Fiskars brand in the photo.) Dressmaking shears/trimmers come in many different weights with many different handle types, so it may take a bit of trial and error to find what works best for you, but once you do – don’t let anyone use those scissors for anything other than fabric!
If you use them for other projects, you will dull your blade … and no one likes a dull blade for cutting fabric.
I like to also have a few pairs of embroidery or needle craft scissors on hand. These are much smaller than a regular pair of dressmaking shears. They are great for taking care of stray threads and I like to use mine to cut serger tails as I’m serging. You can also find spring-loaded snips, if those are more your style.
My most-used small pair of scissors are duckbill style. These are great when you’re sewing lingerie and lace and need to trim back at the seam – the rounded duckbill portion protects your fabric as you’re cutting back delicate lace or mesh. These types of scissors are also great for reducing seam bulk.
Pinking shears are scissors that have saw-toothed blades instead of traditional straight ones. These are used a lot with woven materials because they reduce fraying at woven edges. These are also great for reducing bulk in seams, or cutting curved edges for easy, clean turnouts.
Another great cutting tool to consider is a rotary cutter. Rotary cutters generally come in 3 sizes – 28mm, 45mm, and 60mm. For garment sewing, I tend to use my 45mm daily. I do have a 28mm one for cutting fussy corners or shapes, but don’t feel that I need anything larger than my 45mm. Rotary blades are VERY sharp and caution needs to be taken when using them. Replacement blades are available for your cutter, and there are even rotary blade sharpeners available as well.
Just like there are pinking shears, there are pinking rotary blades available as well!
I love how smooth cuts are with a rotary blade, especially when doing curves, and that you can get close to your pattern weights when using it. They are very lightweight and easy to maneuver around your pattern’s straight lines and curves alike.
A cutting mat is needed when you’re using a rotary cutter (otherwise you will cut whatever is under your fabric). The best kind of mat to get is a self-healing one so it will last a long time and prolong the life of your rotary blade. Cutting mats come in a variety of sizes and you can get them with different rulers/grids printed onto them, which I find helpful while measuring out elastics or straight pattern pieces. Cutting mats also come in a variety of colors from a variety of companies, and you can even get double sided ones.
Another great tool to have when you’re using a rotary cutter and cutting mat is pattern weights to hold the fabric down. This can be as simple as using cans from your pantry, or washers from the hardware store, to cute, themed ones that you can make or purchase. I’ve even heard of creative sewers using a metal sheet under the cutting mat and using magnets to hold the fabric down.
Rulers are another great tool that you can use with your rotary cutter and cutting mat. You can use any size or material (plastic, metal, wood, etc.) ruler. I prefer to use my Fiskars clear 18″ ruler so I can see the fabric underneath, and it’s also 3″ across, which is really helpful when cutting strips of material and rectangular/square pattern pieces.
Some newer cutting tools that are becoming more popular are electric scissors and electric rotary cutters. These tools are great if you have any pain in your hands typically found when using scissors, or from the pushing pressure of using a rotary cutter. Things to keep in mind is that they can be noisy, are very sharp, and they need to be recharged. Because you need to place these types of tools under your fabric like you do with scissors, you can’t get as close to your pattern weights as you can with a rotary blade. If you have several layers of basic shapes to cut, these tools can be indispensable.
Another cutting tool that you definitely need in any sewing room? A seam ripper. You can get these for less than a dollar in most craft stores, or you can even order specially made ones that are more ergonomic for holding comfort. These are great for taking apart seams that you may need to re-sew, and are great to take apart serged seams. There are also razor blade style seam rippers available that cut through more layers at a time than a typical seam ripper. I couldn’t live without a seam ripper – I use one daily.
I hope this blog has given you some extra information on cutting tools to have in your sewing space. Remember, everyone has their own preferences for brands and styles of cutting tools – find what works for you and keep them safe for fabrics only.
Kelly is an avid pattern tester and fabric hoarder. She likes to share many photos and reels of her Made for Mermaids makes on Instagram.
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