Cutting fabric should be the easiest part of your crafting process, but it can be difficult with dull scissors. Sharp scissors are essential for sewing projects but you don’t have to go and buy a new pair when the old ones lose their edge — regular maintenance and sharpening can help you get more out of each pair. With our tips, you can learn different ways to sharpen your sewing scissors at home using everyday household items, saving you time and money in the long run.

5 Methods for Sharpening Scissors


Get the best results by using high-quality, fine-grit sandpaper between #180 and #220 to sharpen your scissors. Fold the sandpaper in half so both sides are gritted, then cut through the paper with all edges of your blunt scissors. Make 12 cuts and then test your scissors on fabric fat quarters to see if they’re sharp enough. If not, keep sandpapering until you get the desired level of sharpness for working through fabric seamlessly.

Steel Wool Soap Pad

If you’ve got some steel wool soap pads lying around, they can be used for more than just cleaning crusty pots and pans. You can also use them to sharpen your scissors! Whether you’re starting with a new pad or reusing an old one, this method is easy – just take your dull scissors and make a couple of cuts in the pad. Give the blades a rinse afterward, then give them a test run on some scrap fabric to see if sharpness has been reached. If not, go ahead and give them another round of sharpening!

Knife Sharpener

This may not be the most creative method, but you can use a knife sharpener to sharpen your scissors. If you’re feeling bold, take them apart with a screwdriver and sharpen each blade individually. Place the inner side of one blade against the sharpener and drag it across 10 times. Then do the same for the other half, put them back together, and give them a test run on your quilting materials. If they don’t seem sharp enough, repeat the process until you get the desired result.

Sharpening Stone

A bench stone or whetstone usually features a coarse and fine grit surface. Start by running the inside of each blade against the coarse grit, and make sure to use honing oil or tap water to lubricate the movement. Put your pressure on the beveled edge of the blade – you shouldn’t need more than twenty strokes. Once you’re done with the coarse grit side, move on to the finer one to finish off. The fine side polishes away any imperfections that weren’t smoothed out by the thicker one, ensuring you get a thorough job done.

Needles and Pins

Place your scissors so both blades are in contact with the sewing pin. Start gently and press down on the blades, so the pin moves from where the blades meet to their ends. Increase the pressure slightly and keep moving your blades across the pin in a cutting motion. Keep going until you think they’re sharp enough. Wipe them off with a wet cloth and test them out to see if you’re happy with the results. If not, repeat but make sure your needles and pins can handle it.

Can Aluminum Foil Sharpen Scissors?

The answer is no. Steel is approximately 2 and a half times denser than aluminum and much harder, so it is not physically possible to actually ‘sharpen’ scissors using aluminum foil.

To sharpen scissors, you actually need to remove the blunt edge of the cutting blades with something harder than the steel that the scissors are made from, or something abrasive. Aluminum foil is neither of these things. You can use aluminum foil to clean the rust off the blades though, and this can help to keep the scissors sharper for longer.

How to Keep the Scissors Sharp

Do not cut paper with fabric shears

Fabric scissors are designed to cut through material like fabric, leather, and upholstery – not paper. Paper is much too thin and fragile to be used on fabric scissors. While paper can be cut with other types of scissors that have sharper blades, it is important not to use them on fabric because the blades will start to dull very quickly. The sharp blades of fabric scissors are specifically made to ensure a clean, even cut through thicker materials without damaging them. Using fabric scissors to cut paper can also cause tearing or shredding of the paper due to how strong and thick the blades are. It’s better to stick with regular paper-cutting scissors when cutting thin objects such as paper to protect your scissors from becoming blunted or unusable in short order.

Clean them regularly

Over time, scissors that cut fabric can become clogged with dust, lint, and other debris that accumulates from regular use. It’s important to keep your fabric scissors clean and sharp. Follow these steps to ensure your fabric scissors stay in great condition:

  1. Wipe off any visible dust or debris from the blades using a dry cloth.
  2. Use a soft-bristled brush, like a toothbrush, to get any lint out of the blades.
  3. Moisten a cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe down the blades thoroughly. Once finished, dry them with a clean cloth.
  4. Add a thin layer of oil or lubricant to the blades to prevent rusting. Mineral oil or sewing machine oil works well, as does any specialized spray lubricant for scissors.
  5. Store your scissors in a dry place away from humidity and moisture accumulation. Cleaning your fabric scissors regularly will help them last for years to come.

By following these tips, you can keep your favorite fabric shears sharp for longer and make sure they always provide the crispest, cleanest cuts. Whether you’re a professional tailor or someone who just enjoys sewing as a hobby, it’s important to know how to properly care for and maintain your fabric scissors so that they give you the best results. Sharper scissors mean cleaner, more precise cuts, which will result in better-looking finished products. So make sure to take the time and effort to sharpen your dressmaker’s shears and keep them as good as new!