A pair of dressmaking scissors could well last you a lifetime if you make a thoughtful purchase and care for them properly. The first thing to look for (aside from how comfortable they feel in your hand) is a pair that cut the fibers cleanly rather than chewing their way through. You also want the shears to grip the fabric rather than push it away from the blade as this can result in haphazard cutting and distorted pattern pieces.
Shears are available in a range of sizes between 8-13”, the choice between them being a personal and important one. Professional tailors will opt for those on the larger end of the spectrum as the length enables quick cutting. Many home dressmakers find 8-9” more manageable. The optimum size finds the right balance between a blade long enough to cut clean, smooth lines and small enough to give you control over the full length of the shear, especially when cutting tight curves or corners.
The most distinctive feature of dressmaking shears as opposed to regular scissors is the angle of the handle. The side bend allows you to cut along the surface of the table without lifting the fabric, giving a more accurate cut. Traditionally, tailor’s shears have been forged from all metal but technological developments have seen the addition of plastic handles making them lighter and more comfortable to use.
The heavier weight of an all-metal pair does some of the work for you when cutting through thick fabrics but is tiring on the hand and wrist over time. Our roundup includes both plastic and metal ergonomic handles, which are shaped to fit the contours of the hand for comfort.