Thread Snips 101: What Are They? When & How to Use Them?

Thread snips are small cutting tools for tasks that require fine and detailed control. They have short blades so they’re designed to make small cuts, not long ones. They’re often used to trim threads close to the fabric, cut seam allowances, and trim yarn. Unlike small embroidery scissors, thread snips are often spring-loaded, so they automatically open after you make a cut. This allows you to cut in 1 step, rather than 2. You use them by pushing the blades together in your hand. Some thread snips have a finger holder where you can place your ring finger inside.

Today, we’re going to dive deeper into:

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What are thread snips?

Thread snips are small cutting tools that cut thread, fabric, yarn, and string. They’re used for tasks that require fine and detailed control. They have short blades, so they’re designed to make small cuts, not long ones. They’re primarily designed for light to medium weight textiles, but stronger thread snips will be able to cut through thick fabrics like denim.

What do thread snips look like? 

They have 2 short and sharp blades and a handle. Some designs include a finger loop so you can securely wear the thread snips on your ring finger (the 4th finger on your hand, between your middle finger and pinkie). This design stops you from accidentally dropping the scissors. 

Most are spring-loaded, so they automatically open again after you make a cut. This makes cutting much faster when compared to normal scissors where you have to open and close the blade yourself every time. 

High-quality thread snips are very sharp and make clean cuts in light and heavy-weight fabrics. Poorer-quality thread snips will be less sharp, have flimsy handles that are harder to use, and struggle to cut through thick fabric.

Thread snip uses:

  • Trimming seam allowances.
  • Cutting off excess thread close to the fabric.
  • Trimming curves and corners.
  • Trimming fringes.
  • Layering seams.
  • Clipping notches into fabric.
  • Any other sewing or craft task that requires fine and detailed control.
  • For sewing, knitting, crochet, macramé, weaving, embroidery, and quilting.
  • For use on light to heavyweight fabrics.

I mainly use my thread snips to trim excess thread after sewing.

I also use them to clip into curved seams.

Do I need thread snips?

In sewing, you’ll need some type of small scissor to trim threads and make small and precise cuts. People typically use embroidery scissors or thread snips. They’re both designed to make small and detailed cuts, but thread snips are normally spring-loaded and will do the cutting action in 1 step (you close the blade and it automatically opens itself), rather than 2 steps (close the blade, open the blade). This is why many people prefer thread snips – for speed and less hand fatigue.

Different types of thread snips:

There are 2 popular designs to choose from. A one-piece version with a U-shaped handle, and a finger loop handle. 

There are also other slight variations in design. Some handles will be made from metal or plastic, and some have a soft rubber overlay for better grip. There are a few “ergonomic” designs that have a slightly larger and curved handle to fill the space in your hands, and grooves for your fingers to settle. Some handles are thin and others are chunkier and easier to grip without them shifting about in your hand too much.

Which type should you buy?

LDH scissors sells both styles: one-piece and finger-loop types. Having tried them both, I personally recommend the finger loop version. They’re much easier to hold. The finger loop keeps the thread snip firmly in my hand, and the handle is thicker so it’s easy to push the blades together without the snips wobbling.

Other reviewers seem to agree:

“These are super nice, really sharp, really smooth and precise action. I got these and the one-piece thread snips, and I definitely prefer these. The other snips are still sharp and get the job done, but these ones are much smoother and the alignment is better, and they feel more refined, which is probably just the nature of the two styles.” (review by Maggie in 2020 – source).

The best thread snips:

Here’s what to look for:

  • Very sharp blades that cut all the way to the tip.
  • Able to cut through light and heavyweight fabrics.
  • Smooth and precise cutting action, not clunky and resistant.
  • Spring-loaded = meaning it can cut in 1 action, not 2, so there’s less hand fatigue.
  • Strong and slightly thick handle, not flimsy and hard to operate.
  • Feels comfortable in your hand.
  • Lightweight.
  • Ideally, it has a finger loop so you don’t accidentally drop the thread snips on your legs or feet! This style is also easier to hold than a straight handle. They don’t shift in your hand as you use them.
  • If you get a one-piece version with no finger loop, look for a thicker handle that won’t shift too much when you cut. Thin handles are fiddly to operate so I don’t recommend them.
  • If you have arthritis or weak hands, you may find spring-loaded ergonomic snips the best.
  • Ideally, they should have a cap or case for safe storage. It’s hard to buy these separately.

So far, these LDH thread snips with a finger loop are my favorite. 

  • They’re made from a heavy duty stainless steel so the handle is strong, not flimsy. This makes them easier to hold and operate. 
  • They include a finger loop so they’re easier and safer to hold. You don’t need to worry about accidentally dropping them and cutting your lap! 
  • The blades are sharp to the tip, they can handle light and heavy weight fabrics well, and the cutting action is smooth. 
  • The spring-loaded design means the blades quickly jump back to an “open” position, so you don’t need to do this manually. This speeds up the cutting process. 
  • They come with a rubber blade cap and storage box so you can safely store the snips away.
  • They also come in a unique range of finishes: matt black, shiny silver, gold, and multicolored. So stylish!

I’ve tried different thread snip designs and prefer the finger loop ones. They provide a smooth, stable, and enjoyable cutting experience.

The other popular style are one-piece thread snips with a U-shaped handle. In my experience, these are more fiddly to operate, especially if the handle is very slim (these ones are less than ⅛” wide). When I cut fabric, sometimes the snips would shift left or right slightly as I applied pressure on the handle. It took some practice to figure out where to put my fingers to reduce the shifting. This made the cutting experience slower when compared to the finger loop snips where I didn’t have this problem. It’s worth noting that this is just my personal experience and you may actually prefer this style.

How to hold and use thread snips?

Thread snips with a finger loop at the bottom are worn on the ring finger. This is the 4th finger on your hand, between your middle finger and pinkie. Your other fingers will support the thread snips from the bottom, and your thumb will be placed on top. You push your thumb down on the thread snips to close the blades and make a cut.

One-piece thread snips with a U-shaped handle are held with your thumb at the top and your other fingers supporting the bottom. Then you push your fingers together to close the blades and make a cut.

Thread snip cases, covers, and caps:

Ideally, you want to buy thread snips that come with a storage solution. Either a case, cover, or blade cap. These will cover the sharp blades and stop them from damaging anything (or anyone!) when not in use. I found it very hard to get these separately, so I recommend buying snips that come with storage solutions.

LDH snips come with a padded storage box. The finger-loop style also comes with a red rubber cap if you want to store them without the box. The cap is easy to slide on and off, and the bright red color means it’s easy to spot if you drop it.

How to sharpen thread snips:

It’s best to let professionals sharpen your thread snips. They have the specialist equipment to do this properly, and a good understanding of what angle the blade needs to be sharpened at. Each brand uses different angles. LDH Scissors offer a mail-in sharpening service for $10 (plus shipping). They’re based in Canada. Pro Sharp sharpens thread snips for £6 (plus shipping) in the UK.

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