Simple ways to Sharpen Your Fabric Scissors (& keep them sharp)

Do you want to extend the lifespan and effectiveness of your fabric scissors? Learn tips to maintain your scissors and sharpen them with stone, sandpaper and even aluminium foil

sharpen scissors

Sewing gets dull if you have dull scissors – it takes twice the time and results in unprofessional work. Dull unresponsive scissors that just won’t cut through fabric can mar your sewing experience and take all the joy out of it—enough reasons to get sharpened scissors.


How to Sharpen scissors

If your scissors are just lightly dull and you want to give them a new life, one easy and effective method is to cut fine grit sandpaper with it. Do it a couple of times with long cuts ie, you cut it in one go, the whole edge coming in contact with the sandpaper, and repeat this cut some ten times. You will notice that your scissors are a lot sharper.  

Another oft recommended home method is to use dryer sheets to sharpen the scissors.

If the scissors are really dull, take the scissors to a professional. The sewing machine dealer near you will know where to find one.
Or you can be brave enough to do it yourself.

Or you can be brave enough to do it yourself.

Whichever method you use make sure the scissors are free from any debris or dirt. Wipe the blades with a clean cloth or tissue. You should also use consistent, gentle and even pressure, unless you want to damage the blades. And keep your fingers away from the sharpening process.

Sharpen your scissors with Sandpaper

Buy 120 grit sandpaper. Cut and fold a piece of this paper over itself to make it thick and holdable by hand. You can fold it over a scale for better comfort in holding.

sharpen scissors with sandpaper wrapped on a scale

Wet this lightly with water. Just a little dampness is what you want – not soggy wet. Keep the scissor’s upper teeth edge ( the one that goes with the bigger handle and this comes as the upper edge when you hold it in your hand) in front of you and start moving the sandpaper tool you have made up and down in a wiping fashion.

Do not press upon it – just use enough pressure to move the sandpaper over the edge. After some grinding, your scissors will be as sharp as you want.

Do not sharpen the other edge of the scissors – just the upper edge is to be sharpened.

Sharpening Scissors with a Knife sharpener Steel rode.

You can use the knife sharpener rod to sharpen your fabric scissors. Infact this is the method recommended by many people. It can have a smooth surface or ridges; both types will work effectively.

a knife sharpening rode can be used to sharpen scissors

This is how you do it – Find the cutting edge of the scissors. Slide the scissor blade (cutting edge side) along the length of the rod, starting from the pivot and moving towards the tip, in one smooth motion. Repeat this motion several times on one side (four or five times).

Sharpen your scissors with stone 

Scissors taken apart to be sharpened with a stone

To restore the cutting edge of scissors you can use a professional sharpening stone.

  • It is better to take apart the scissors if you can, to get it evenly and fully sharpened. (But if you don’t know what you are doing, just leave it and work with it as one piece. What if you cannot get it back together?)
  • Lubricate the stone.
  • As you sharpen maintaining a consistent blade angle throughout the sharpening process
  • Use gentle and controlled strokes.
  • Wear protective eye wear to prevent small shards from falling into your eyes.

Checkout the video given below ; It uses a sharpening stone to sharpen the scissors.   


How to sharpen scissors with Aluminium foil

This method is not as effective as other methods given above, but if you are in a hurry and the stone, or sharpening rode or the sandpaper is not available you can try this. You will hopefully have aluminium foil in your kitchen, at least.

Fold the aluminium foil sheets to create several layers of them.

Cut through the sheets with your dull fabric scissors. Try the effectiveness by cutting through fabric; if the sharpening is not done, repeat the process. Cut through the whole length of the blade. Be warned that this method may not be as effective or even permanent.

Maintaining the scissors in tip-top condition is as important as sharpening the scissors after they have dulled. The two blades joined at a pivot point – both of the edges should work equally well. Check out the pointers given below for that end.

How to maintain your scissors

sharpening scissors on a wheel

Select the best scissors that you can afford.

Heavy-duty angled scissors, which are really sharp, are an investment that you will not regret. Checkout the different kinds of cutting tools you need for sewing 

Cut only fabric

If you have fabric scissors, under no circumstances, even if you have a gun against your forehead, cut anything other than fabric and never ever paper.

Keep paper scissors for paper and fabric scissors for fabric. Your long-lasting scissors with sharp teeth will thank you for this small mercy. When you use your fabric scissors to paper and other things like cardboard and plastic, the blade gets dull quickly. These materials are abrasive and causes damage to the edges of your scissors – this may not be evident at first, but eventually they will not cut fabric properly. You will get uneven and frayed edges.

Keep scissors dry

Never ever wet your scissors. If you think a wash is what your scissors want when it gets dirty with lint, and dirt you are not right up there. Moisture will create rust, and your scissors will be damaged for good before long. Just a wipe with a soft dry cloth is all the TLC it wants. 

Remember to remove all the pins from the fabric where you will be cutting. When the scissors try to cut pins, they are dulled. 

Do not (try to) drop the scissors.

Like anything, the scissors are susceptible to damage after a fall. The screw may come loose and the alignment of the edges will be missed. This has happened to me and it is heartbreaking to lose good scissors. 

scissors when used with tapes with glue result in dull cuts as the residue is difficult to remove

Do not cut tapes with glue

Never cut sticky tape or brown tape, or stabilizers with thick glue with your fabric scissors. The stickiness will not go easily, and you will be left with a not-so-effective cutting tool. 

Oil the screw

Oil the scissor screw once a month (once a week if you use it frequently) with a drop of sewing machine oil.  Open and close the scissors a couple of times to make sure the oil gets in the right places, and wipe down with a clean, soft cloth.

Do not try to take apart the scissors if you are not absolutely sure what to do. The little parts may be difficult to put together again

Use a cover to keep the scissors protected at all times. 

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Simple ways to Sharpen Your Fabric Scissors (& keep them sharp)”

  1. I am making a close-fitting bodice with the front panels cut on the bias; the centre back &side back panels cut on the straight. Should I cut the underarm narrow panel on the bias or straight

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