Scissors for Needlepoint

Exquisitely handcrafted embroidery scissors made by Jean-Marie Roulet

Every needlepointer needs a good pair of scissors. With all of the different kinds available today, I’m here to help you cut through (teehee… sorry, I couldn’t resist!) the clutter and find the perfect pair for you!

Why Should You Care About Scissors?

You might not think it matters what kind of scissors you use on your needlepoint projects, but it really does.

Imagine, for example, trying to snip a thread with a pair of kindergarten craft scissors. Instead of cutting the thread cleanly, they “chew” through it, leaving frayed ends that look messy – and that you might accidentally pull through to the front of your work later. (EEK!)

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: you should use the  best quality tools you can afford. Invest in a good pair of embroidery scissors now and they’ll serve you well for years to come.

How do you know what kind to buy? Great question!

Gingher 4" embroidery scissors are my workhorse scissors for needlepoint.

There are several different kinds of embroidery scissors…

  • Straight tip scissors are the most common type of embroidery scissors. They have slender blades and fine points for cutting close to the canvas – and the finer the point, the closer you can get to your stitches.
  • Curved tip embroidery scissors have slender blades, too, but they curve upward at the tip. The points are very fine which means you can cut close to the canvas. They’re very helpful when trimming Turkey work.
  • Double curved embroidery scissors have an additional curve or bend near the handle. The double curve enables you to snip threads near stretcher bars more easily.
  • Snips are handy for clipping threads. They have very short blades and come with or without a finger hole.

Small and sharp is the way to go.

Needlepoint is fine work, so you want small scissors with sharp tips that can get into tight spaces – especially when you find yourself needing to “reverse stitch” a section of your project. Personally, I prefer larger bows so that I can slip my fingers into and out of them comfortably while still maintaining control when snipping threads.

I highly recommend “test driving” scissors before buying them, especially if you’re eyeing a pair that’s on the pricier side. It’s important to note that not all scissors are created equal, too. Just because they’re expensive doesn’t mean that they’re better.

What makes a good pair of embroidery scissors?

  1. They feel balanced in your hand, and not too heavy on the handle end.
  2. They have a smooth cutting action.
  3. The blades are very sharp, all the way to their points.
  4. And the ends are evenly matched so that you can make a precise cut, even at the very tips of the blades.

Some of my favorite brands include Ernest Wright, Gingher, Kai, Premax, and William Whiteley.

Stork scissors from Ernest Wright


Traveling with your needlepoint…

I always take at least one small needlepoint project with me when traveling. Through the years, I’ve gleaned some tips for getting through airport security with ease.

Here they are:

  1. United States TSA guidelines allow scissors with blades less than four inches (from the hinge to the tip, i.e., the blades). My “go-t0” travel scissors are Super Snips. These tiny, super sharp mini scissors easily fit into your project bag and they have a handy silicone safety shield that protects your work from the stainless steel blades.
  2. Pack your good scissors in your checked baggage – and make sure they’re in a sheath, so they can’t injure baggage inspectors.
  3. When traveling abroad, be prepared to give up your scissors. International security agents can be a wee bit more persnickety than our domestic agents.
  4. Pack nail clippers in your carry on for back up, in case your scissors are confiscated. Just be sure to snap off the nail file beforehand. 😉
  5. Pre-cut your thread before you head out the door.

Caring for your cutters is easier than you may think.

  • To avoid damage to the blade setting, never force a cut if you sense resistance. You may be using the wrong tool for the task – or your scissors may need sharpening or repair.
  • Store them carefully, using a fitted sheath or case.
  • Wipe the inside blade surfaces regularly to keep them free of lint; add a small drop of household oil at the assembly point to maintain a smooth cutting action.
  • Consider applying a light coating of oil on the scissors’ blades and edges to prevent rust, especially if you live in a coastal area, use the scissors in a humid environment, or want to store them for a long time.
  • If your scissors require resharpening, find a resharpening company with experience in sharpening fabric and tailoring shears. (I learned this lesson the hard way… remind me to tell you about it sometime! 🙁 )

I hope you found this information helpful – and if you know someone who might enjoy reading it, too, please feel free to share it with them. 🙂

Alrighty – that’s all for now, my friend!

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you have a terrific rest of your day!

Until next time, happy stitching…
Stitch with a smile!

10 thoughts on “Scissors for Needlepoint”

  1. Thank you for the information on scissors. They are a major tool in needlework. I’ve gotten to the point to put them back in there plastic shields between sniping. I’ve ruined a pair by dropping them on the floor. Your mind it so focused on getting the thread in the needle so you can continue your project.

  2. Ellen,

    In 1980, I was given a pair of stork scissors as a high school graduation gift. They continue to serve me well when working on my needlepoint.

    Happy Thanksgiving,

    Suellen Furlow

    • Hi Suellen!
      What a lovely gift. I never thought to give embroidery scissors as a graduation present, but I’m definitely keeping that on my radar from now on…
      Thank you for sharing the idea – and happy stitching! 🙂

  3. I have several pairs of the “pricey” scissors as I used to work for a woman who sold them. Not only are they gorgeous to look at but exquisite to use. Worth treating yourself to a pair, you won’t be sorry!

    • Hi Joyce!
      Thank you for taking the time to write. I appreciate you sharing your experience using the fancy scissors with us. 😉
      I may have to splurge and buy myself a pair for my birthday next year. It’s the big 6 – 0!
      Have a lovely Thanksgiving and happy stitching!!

    • Absolutely, Maribeth! Thank you for sharing the tip. An old pair of dull embroidery scissors can work very well. And there are also scissors made for cutting real metal threads used in gold work embroidery. They have a serrated edge and they work well on the synthetic metallic threads we use for our needlepoint, too. 😉
      Have a terrific rest of your day and happy stitching!

  4. Very informative article – wish you could/would have included some pics of the different types of scissors for us “newbies”. Thanks for providing such useful info and tips!

    • Hi Jane
      Thank you for your kind words – and for sharing your thoughts. I plan to do an episode of Needlepoint TV to go along with this post (where I can show y’all different kinds of scissors 😉), so keep an eye out for my weekly email about that coming soon. 😉
      Have a terrific day and happy stitching!!


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Serendipity Needleworks

Hi, I’m Ellen. A needlepoint teacher and author dedicated to helping motivated but overwhelmed stitchers at every stage find exactly what they need to stitch with confidence. Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the needlepoint world or you’re ready to take your skills to the next level, I’ve fine-tuned a learning experience just for you.

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