I have cutting tools up the wazoo in my sewing room. You certainly don't need all these cutting tools if you are just starting out, but if you're looking for the right tool for a certain job, here is my advice. These are not the only cutting implements I have or use, but these are the ones I use the most frequently:
1. Fiskars Scissors: I have a few large 9 1/2″ pairs of these (the orange ones shown) and then probably 7 pairs of the 8″ scissors (like the pink and blue handled shown…mostly hot pink: easier to find in the mess that is my sewing room). Many pairs are marked “FABRIC ONLY” and one or two pairs are designated for paper. I like these Fiskars because they are good scissors: higher quality than the cheaper store brands, but not as expensive as Gingher scissors (and therefore I don’t feel guilty using them). The larger pairs are good for cutting through layers of thick fleece or denim, but most of the time I am happy with the 8″ pairs. What really makes them my favorite is my ability to sharpen them quickly and easily with the Fiskars Scissor Sharpener (see #2 below).
2. Fiskars Scissor Sharpener: This handy dandy tool is the key to easy fabric slicing! It doesn’ t matter how great your scissors are, if they’re dull, they won’t cut. I have two of these sharpeners and all you have to do is make a cutting motion with your scissor blades in the slots (real directions are on the package of course) and your Fiskars scissors are like new again, ready to cut through anything!!
3. Curved Tip Embroidery Scissors: These come in several brands (I own some called “Easy-Kut” and “Snip-Eze”). I like the small curved tip for cutting threads nice and close to the fabric, whether they’re in embroidery designs or hems. My favorite part of these particular scissors is that they’re a little like tweezers, always open, with no finger loops. It’s so easy to do quick snips without having to slip your fingers into little holes. It may not seem like a big deal until you try these! Then you’ll love them!
4. Thread Snips: I found a few pairs of these for only a dollar or two a piece and I keep a pair next to each of my sergers. They’re excellent for clipping threads, again with no finger holes to slow you down.
5. Rotary Cutters: I must have 7 rotary cutters now. Sometimes it’s because I lose them, but some have different functions. I keep a cutter that’s for paper separate from my fabric cutters. Rotary cutters come in different sizes, but I pretty much exclusively use the 45mm size. Some rotary cutters are more ergonomically shaped and the blade locks in place (the yellow Fiskars), some are cuter (the blue and brown damask Fiskars), and some have a nifty retractable blade that comes out automatically when you press it to the cutting surface (the blue Dritz). I started using rotary cutters when I began quilting, but lately, I’ve also been using them to cut out dress patterns as well. They give a nice, straight, clean cut without lifting the fabric from the table/cutting surface, like you need to do with scissors. They’re best when used with a self-healing mat (you don’t want to ruin your table!) and a proper rotary-cutting ruler. Be careful not to slice off the tips of your fingers!
6. New Rotary Cutting Blades: Like scissors, a rotary cutter won’t work well if the blades are dull. I buy new blades in multi-packs when they’re on sale so I can always have new ones around. A new rotary blade cuts through almost any fabric (layers, even!) like butter. So fabulous! There is a rotary blade sharpener available as well (and I own it), and I’ve found it’s good for taking burrs and other little imperfections out of your blade to make it last a little longer, but nothing (I’ve found) is as good as a nice new rotary blade when you need one.
Again, I can’t stress enough that I have multiples of all these things because I buy them on sale and it makes my life easier. Do I need them all? Probably not. Am I happy when a pair of scissors is always within reach? Absolutely!! The few dollars I spend on each extra/multiple cutting tool is worth it so that I can always find the right tool that I need!