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What are Dressmaker's Shears?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By oscar23 — On Jul 02, 2011

Many times when I think of my mother, I think of her with her dressmakers sheers in her hand. She was a woman who married young and had to work for a living right along with my dad.

They really believed in replenishing the earth, I guess, because they didn’t quit having kids until there were four of us. And, that is probably one of the reasons why money could be so tight from time to time.

We never really knew it, though. Momma always made sure we had what we needed, and that included clothes. She is one of the few people I have ever met that could take those sheers, cut out a dress without a pattern and sew it right up to perfectly fit.

As long as we lived at home, she never got a new pair of scissors and still prefers those old ones to this day.

By poppyseed — On Jul 02, 2011

It is pretty common now for people to get specialized scissors that help to keep folks who use them often from getting carpal tunnel syndrome.

Many folks are more familiar with this very painful disability affecting those who type on a regular basis, but the fact is that it greatly affects all kinds of people who use their hands repetitively throughout the day every day.

For the seamstress, this comes mostly from cutting fabric and hand sewing of all kinds. Naturally, the sewing machine helps with the hand sewing part. Using better scissors that cause less strain on the hand and wrist are the way to go in terms of cutting.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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