Science of Sewing: Cutting Implements

Let’s talk about all the scissors you might want or actually need for cosplay creation! There are quite a few, so I’ve broken them down here with their uses and place in the cutting world:

Types of Shears and Scissors

  • Dressmaking Shears
  • Embroidery Scissors/ Thread Snips
  • Pinking Shears
  • Tailor’s Shears
  • Rotary Cutters
  • Hair Cutting Shears
  • Thinning scissors
  • Hair Razors

Dressmaking Shears

Dressmaking Shears come in two distinct varieties: Knife-edge and Serated-edge. Both styles coming in sharp tip and blunt tip. There are also spring loaded versions to take some of the work off your hands.

These are the mainstay of your scissor collection. They are meant to cut through fabrics as light as chiffon and gauze, all the way to vinyl and pleather.

The knife-edge is best for fabrics that need a very clean cut, like pleather, vinyl, and cottons. The serated-edge shears are best for fabrics that like to shift around, such as chiffon, voile, and gauze – the extra tooth gives them a bit more control over unruly fabrics.

Embroidery Scissors/ Thread Snips

The scissors are much smaller and more easily controlled for sniping threads very close to fabrics and for cutting small details. I personally own 3 pairs: Two for details and threads (the larger ones) and one for getting VERY close to the fabric (the curved ones – which are legit nose hair trimmers).

Pinking Shears

Pinking Shears cut through fabric to create a zig-zag or scalloped edge. This helps to prevent woven fabrics from fraying and unraveling with washing and wearing. These are fantastic if you don’t want to overlock/ zig-zag stitch your fabric edges. In fact, I often find cotton and linen garments to be the most comfortable with these as they are soft and smooth as opposed to stiff with the additional threads of finishing.

Rotary Cutters

A rotary cutter is a tool generally used by quilters to cut fabric. It consists of a handle with a circular blade that rotates, thus the tool’s name. It can also be used in traditional sewing to cut around large curves with little to no breaking of the cut edge.

Tailor’s Shears

Tailoring shears are especially useful for cutting solid, rigid fabrics such as suiting wool, coat fabrics, cotton drills and denims. A quick and simple method is to chalk the outline of your patterns onto the fabric and then cut with tailors shears.

Hair-Cutting Shears

Hair-cutting shears are scissors that are specifically designed for cutting hair. These shears are significantly sharper than scissors, and designed specifically for cutting hair, giving better control when cutting. They are especially good with wigs, though they will need to be sharpened often. Using anything but these shears on wigs is not recommended.

From top to bottom: Shears, Thinning Scissors, Razor

Hair-Thinning Scissors

Thinning shears are scissors that have one blade with teeth and one blade without. These teeth are little grooves on the blade that will quickly take wig hair out in even sections to help alleviate excess weight, soften lines, and blend between sections.

Hair Razors

These are the outlier on this list, but that makes them all the more important. While they have a very specific use, styling wigs without them is a nightmare. The razors help to create soft lines, fringe, layering, and most importantly, natural looking tapers – especially for spikes and bangs.

Medieval Shears

Just in case you were wondering how scissors have changed over 700 years, take a look at these medieval dagger scissors that were standard for dressmaking and tailoring in the 14th Century.