Fabric Scissors vs Normal Scissors: 7+ Differences Explained

Heads up: This post includes affiliate links like Amazon ones, so I earn from qualifying purchases (at no cost to you). Thanks for using them 🙂

If you’re new to sewing, you might be wondering what the difference is between fabric scissors and normal scissors? Are fabric scissors necessary? Or can you cut fabric with regular scissors?

To find out, I spoke to Ernest Wright and LDH Scissors. Ernest Wright is a manufacturer of scissors. They’ve been in business since 1902! LDH Scissors have been manufacturing scissors since 1990.

Here’s their professional advice.

Normal scissors have thinner and blunter blades than fabric scissors. Fabric scissors have a sharper blade with a steeper angle.

Normal scissors are typically made from stainless steel, whereas fabric scissors are often made from tough carbon steel that lasts longer and can be sharpened better.

Normal scissors are smaller. The blades are shorter and the handles (called ‘bows’) are smaller. Fabric scissors have long blades for long smooth cuts. The handles are larger and more comfortable.

In this post, I’ll let the professionals explain the differences in more detail.

Note: I’m using the term ‘fabric scissors’ in this post because it’s what people search for, but technically they’re ‘fabric shears’. Shears have longer blades than normal scissors.

And I’m defining ‘normal scissors’ as scissors designed for general purpose use.

fabric vs normal scissors: 7 differences explained.

Pros explain the difference between fabric scissors and normal scissors

Paul from Ernest Wright said “when it comes to tools with a sharp edge like scissors and knives, carbon steel is often the preferred kind of steel.

Carbon steel is a super tough metal which means that it can be sharpened to a finer edge and is easier to sharpen. High carbon steel also ensures durable use with sharp blades for long-time use.

General purpose are more often made of stainless steel so that they can be used for a more versatile range of things without the worry of them forming rust.

General purpose scissors also tend to have shorter length blades. This gives the scissor more leverage at the point of the scissor, allowing the shape to do all of the work even when the edge has blunted.

They have smaller bows too which makes them more compact.”

​Ursula from LDH Scissors said “Any scissor can be used to cut fabric but there [are] different design elements that go into making a fabric shear that make it a better choice to use with fabric.

General purpose scissors are typically machine-made and are not made to be used for one specific task: they’re okay, but not great, to use on many things, as the blades tend to be thin and not sharpened well.

Good fabric shears are handcrafted, like ours are, because the angle of the blades (the angle at which they are sharpened), the hardness of the metal, the button of the scissor (the bolt that holds the blades together), and the way that they are put together are all designed for the task of cutting fabric.

A handcrafted fabric shear also ensures that the two blades are aligned perfectly and that the scissor fits comfortably in the hand.

In fewer words, general purpose scissors are not designed with the same features that a fabric shear is, making them less enjoyable and harder to use.”

Can you cut fabric with normal scissors?

Normal scissors for general purpose use will struggle to create a clean cut in fabric. Normal scissors have thinner, shorter, and blunter blades than fabric scissors.

Related: Can you cut paper with fabric scissors? What 5 pros think.

What to read next…

You can buy high-quality, handmade fabric shears from Ernest Wright and LDH Scissors. They both offer scissor sharpening and repair services for their own brand of scissors.

a hand holding silver fabric scissors, and a black fabric scissor.
(left) Ernest Wright fabric shear, (right) LDH Scissors ‘midnight edition’ fabric shear.

If you’re looking for a new pair of scissors, LDH Scissors has a quiz to help you decide what type you need.


Email correspondence with Paul at Ernest Wright on 8 March 2021.

Email correspondence with Ursula at LDH Scissors on 25 February 2021.