Updated on September 5, 2022 by Sarina

A list of the most important cutting tools used in sewing.

cutting tools used in sewing

There are some sarong style skirts and tie tops you can make with shawls and scarves – other than that all sewing involves some cutting. And cutting paper patterns, fabric and thread before and during sewing is one of the most important facets of sewing that I have a post on it separately on how to cut fabric.

When you need a job well done, you need the right tools. So here are some cool cutting tools you should be shopping for, in fact, 13 of them.

Sewing cutting tools and their functions

1. Angled Fabric scissors

cutting tool for sewing -angled scissors are the best for cutting fabric

There are many types of fabric scissors ideal for fabric cutting. You can get different kinds from the flimsiest to the heavy-duty ones. If you are sewing seriously more than two times a month buy the best you could get.
I would get Heavy-duty angled scissors that cut fabric in one long stroke. 

If you will be sewing a great deal with satin, crepe and such lightweight fabrics which are slippery, you will need to buy micro-serrated scissors. These scissors have micro serrations at its edges – you cannot actually see them – but they are great to hold the fabric and prevent slipping which can result in uneven cuts.

I have seen pictures of some scissors with little clips which I thought were genius. I am always losing the scissors even while cutting fabric; mostly they are under the fabric folds, sometimes hiding in the back of the table. These clips to your dress and no more frantic searches – cutting heaven. But I do not think you can clip the heavy ones.

2. Paper cutting scissors

sewing tools for cutting -paper cutting scissors may be needed for cutting patterns, cutting loose thread, cutting tabs

You need these scissors to cut all those papers in making patterns or if you have got a pattern already, you need to cut it out in your size.

Papercutting scissors are one of the most important cutting tools you should have in your sewing kitty. For one, to keep your fabric scissors sharp you need these scissors. ( The best way is to hide it from family – they always go for my fabric scissors for anything and everything they want to cut. Sacrilege!).

I have sewing friends who use their fabric shears to cut the paper and then complain about all scissors being horrible. Do not even think about using your fabric scissors for this job. Nada – that is the death of your dependable little joe. – I mean the fabric scissors as it once was before you cut paper.

3. Small sharp fabric scissors

cutting tool sew-small snipping scissors for cutting loose thread

These small scissors are ideal  for cutting small motifs for applique and for trimming and snipping seam allowances

4. Duckbill scissors 

These scissors are specially meant for clipping the extra fabric in your applique work.

These scissors have a paddle-shaped blade (which resembles a duck’s bill) that provides a clear-cutting path and you can cut very close to the applique stitches with this one.

5. Pinking shears

fabric cutting tools for sewing -pinking shears for cutting edges so that the cut edges do not fray

These scissors have a zigzag edge which prevents the fabric edges from fraying and unraveling. This is great and easy way to finish fabric edges.

6. Thread snips

fabric cutting tools - small thread snips can cut away thread when sewing and embroidering

This is a handy little tool which is useful in cutting the threads when sewing or doing embroidery. You can also use it to snip seam allowances.  

Always keep it near you and cut threads as you sew and save yourself from those chores later. The one with a neck strap is my favourite .

7. Rotary cutters

rotary cutters can cut fabric laid out on a flat surface; it is best to cut many layers of fabric together
A rotary cutter

These are cutting tools that look like pizza cutters and they usually come with self-healing mats on which you place the fabric and cut. This is perfect to have if you frequently have to cut many layers of fabric at once. Very useful for cutting thick fabric like faux fur, felt, and vinyl. You will not believe the clean smooth cut this one gives.

Just like scissors, you should not be cutting paper with this if you do not want to dull the edges. Most rotary cutters come with spare disc-blades.

You also necessarily need a cutting mat to go with this tool- because you will be keeping it on a surface and cutting and just imaging the plight of that surface if it is not prepared. Self healing cutting mat is very forgiving. An ordinary cutting mat will just protect the surface of your table – it wouldnot self heal from the wounds.

And do you know there is an electronic version – OMG, the cutting I would do if I can get my hands on it – but I would be wary of getting my hands on it, lest I don’t have one anymore. Rotary tools are dangerous tools as they are; I have heard horror stories of fingers getting chopped off.  

Learn more about using a rotary cutter with a cutting mat here.

8. Buttonhole cutters

This is a chisel shaped tool which makes small cuts in the fabric. Usually it is used to cut out the buttonhole and it does this job very well. It gives you a sharp neat cut. This tool sometimes comes with a small mat or you can use a wooden piece to place the fabric for cutting.

To make a clean cut , place the chisel in the center of the buttonhole, push it down sharply onto the fabric between the threads of the button hole.No more fraying of threads or fumbling with the seam ripper or being agitated by the too big cut you made with the scissors.

9. Curved embroidery scissors

cloth cutting tools - curved scissors are good for applique

These are small scissors with a small curve at the tip which makes cutting thread when doing embroidery very easy. The angled tip will work very well on top of raised embroidery work and allows you to make close cuts.

10. Double curved embroidery scissors

These are scissors with a curve in the handle which fits very well over the embroidery hoops.

Curved handle of these scissors gives easy  access to threads inside embroidery hoops over hoop and under presser foot when doing machine embroidery. The sharp blades get into tight spaces effortlessly.

11. Seam-ripper

seam-ripper is a very important cutting tool

I should have mentioned this as the first most essential cutting tool. I depend on this small little tool for my sewing life – so many wrong seams, all cut open with this handy thingie, to be set right again.

Whoever invented this thing has my gratitude for all his /her hundred lives.

Seam ripper cuts open threads without jeopardising the fabric. Keep the thing in its plastic case and away from kids when not in use.

Related posts: How to use a seam ripper properly.

12.  Awl

cutting tools- an awl is used to make holes

This tool makes small holes on your fabric, like the one you want for metal grommets (eyelets). When you do not have this one you find you can sew reasonably well. But once you buy it you wonder how you sew without it.

You will find many uses for this tool like feeding gathered fabric into the needle , turning corners, when book binding, and doing eyelet embroidery. Check out this post for other tools used to attach metal grommets here.

13. Exacto-blade

You may wonder at the use of an exacto-blade in sewing. I use it to make stencils for fabric painting. I also use it for making small cuts especially small buttonholes for cloth buttons or drawstrings, where I think the buttonholer would make a too big hole.

I have this manly feeling when I layout my super sharp well maintained cutting tools in front of me. Into the feminine world of dresses and dress forms and pretty threads, enter these cutting tools – these do surely turn the vibe into something else. Aren’t you proud of your cutting tools?

Some tips on caring for your sewing fabric cutting tools

  • Always keep your cutting tools clean. Wipe each of them with a clean dry soft cloth if you feel it is dirty or has lint on it.
  • Keep them in their casing when not in use. These tools are really sharp if they are any good and can harm kids and pets if not stored safely.
  • Oil them to prevent rust. I use my sewing machine oil for this. Just a single drop on the screws is all that is needed. Do not forget to wipe off excess thoroughly off the tools with a dry cloth.
  • Sharpen them professionally or yourself if you know how to if you feel some dullness in the blades. Dull blades can botch a good fabric.
  • For more tips for sharpening and maintaining your scissors check out the post – How to sharpen scissors

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  1. Wow, it’s good to learn first time sewing and have no idea where to start.
    My husband and my kid’s bought me a brand new sewing machine for Xmas present for this year.
    They want to surprise me as I’m working for kindergarten for 3 years.
    Well, I have something to do in my spare time thinking of starting my own business working from home if I have the sewing skills.
    Thank you for the information that helped me a lot.