Scissors and shears complete a similar function but often have specific uses in sewing applications. Often used interchangeably, scissors and shears have distinct applications and may yield different outcomes depending on the project. Discover the difference between scissors and shears to get the most out of your high-quality sewing tools.

What are Scissors?

Belmont Embroidery Scissors 735/5i
Providing everyday use and application-specific purposes for sewing, scissors are a versatile tool available in various types. Scissors are smaller than shears and more symmetrical, featuring shorter blades and matching circular finger holds. Due to their symmetry, scissors are usually a straight design without a bent handle, meaning the fabric has to be manipulated to cut, and the cutting surface does not support the cutting motion.

What are Shears?

Belmont Bent Trimmer 571/8i Shears
Shears are a cutting tool designed to create precision cuts and clean finishes to fabric and are not intended for uses outside of fabric cutting. An asymmetrical design allows for a longer, more precise blade and a unique bent handle feature that enables shears to be rested on the cutting surface for additional support. Finger holds in shears are also structured asymmetrically to accommodate extra fingers opposite the thumb hold.

The Difference Between Scissors & Shears

While scissors and shears are cutting tools, they are designed for specific purposes. The difference between scissors and shears primarily resides in design and function.

Shears have a blade typically over six inches, asymmetrical finger holds, and a bent handle design for stabilized cutting. In contrast, scissors feature a symmetrical design with circular finger holds and a short, straight blade that sits perfectly aligned between the grips. However, certain styles of scissors have similar appearances to shears. Some scissors may feature an elongated handle or asymmetrical grips like that of shears, which can create difficulty in telling the two apart by appearance. Blade size is the most reliable standard when determining if a cutting tool is scissors or shears.  
Belmont New Style Shears 571/10

Functionally, scissors can be used for a variety of applications and have many types to accommodate different cutting requirements. On the other hand, shears are specifically designed for cutting fabric, providing more clean and precise cuts than regular scissors. Professional-grade shears use high-quality blades not usually found on all-purpose scissors, and if shears are used for any purpose other than cutting fabric, they become duller faster.
Belmont Pocket Scissor 360/5

Applications for Scissors & Shears

Using scissors and shears in sewing projects provides different benefits. When cutting fabric, shears offer the most benefits, such as:
  • Stabilized cutting with little to no fabric resistance
  • Precision and clean finishes, no fraying
  • Cuts through thick or multiple pieces of fabric
  • Ergonomic design for user comfort
Outside of sewing, scissors are an all-purpose cutting tool used in a wide variety of applications. For professional sewing projects, scissors are not recommended for fabric cutting. However, specific fabric scissors, like embroidery scissors, can create detailed cuts or provide other, less professional uses in sewing projects, like thread trimming.

Find Scissors & Shears for Your Sewing Projects at Diamond Needle

Diamond Needle is a trusted source of scissors and shears for any project, including high-quality Belmont brand scissors. The benefits provided by scissors and shears differ in sewing projects. If you need assistance finding the right shears or scissors for your next sewing project, contact us, and our expert staff will help determine an appropriate solution or request a quote for high-quality cutting tools.