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Dressmaker's shears are heavy duty scissors that are designed specifically with the needs of seamstresses in mind. These shears are designed to cut efficiently and smoothly through a wide variety of materials, and they are typically forged so that they can withstand a lifetime of use. Many craft stores sell them in varying qualities, and they can also be ordered directly from manufacturers; when ordered from the manufacturer, they may come with a warranty or sharpening service.
The distinguishing feature of dressmaker's shears is that the handle is offset from the blades, allowing them to be used to cut fabric against a flat surface without distortion. Like other shears, one of the finger rings is typically larger than the other. In industry terms, the finger rings on scissors and shears are known as “bows,” and on this type of shears, the large bow is usually on the side of the blade that points towards the floor when the shears are in use.
The edges of dressmaker's shears are typically ground with a beveled edge, and they are extremely sharp. It is important to keep fabric cutting scissors sharp to avoid damaging the fabric as it is cut, especially since dressmakers may cut through multiple layers of fabric at once for efficiency. These shears also tend to be large and fairly heavy, making them a formidable tool in the crafting arsenal. Most seamstresses also keep an assortment of smaller, lighter scissors on hand for trimming and snipping tasks.
Because these shears are not symmetrical, they come in both right and left-handed versions to facilitate comfortable use. It is important for people to use those that are engineered for their dominant hand, as it will reduce the risk of injury and make work more comfortable. It is also a good idea for sewers to try out a pair of shears before use, if possible, to make sure that they feel right in the hand.
People who often find themselves working with other crafters, such as in a quilting club, may want to clearly mark their name on their shears to ensure that someone does not take them home by accident. It is also a good idea to keep dressmaker's shears in a case whenever they are not in use, to protect the blades and prevent injuries. Getting a hard case is a good idea, as it will allow the owner to easily ship the scissors out for sharpening.