What are Thread Nippers?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Thread nippers are simple thread scissors that are designed primarily for cutting threads in a concise and clean manner. Generally, the design for these types of scissors is smaller than a pair of sewing shears and will fit easily into the palm of the hand. Many versions of thread nippers are no more than four inches in length.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

In shape, the nippers are configured to resemble a pistol that has been turned upside down. The operation of the scissors usually involves inserting the index finger through a finger guide while cupping the device in the hand. By opening and closing the hand, the action works the two blades on the thread nippers, making it possible to apply as much or as little pressure as needed to achieve a clean cut on the threads involved.

The purpose for thread nippers is to cut through thread, even when the thread is thick or made from a particularly sturdy material. Because of the non-traditional design for the scissors, it is possible to apply more pressure for threads that are more durable, such as some synthetic blends. Persons who work in textile plants that refine synthetic fibers for use in carpeting and upholstery are often issued thread nippers for use when cutting threads is required. With their lightweight construction and relatively small dimensions, the nippers can easily be attached to a chain that is worn around the neck, as well as fit easily into a pants pocket.

While the main function of thread nippers is to cut threads with a clean cut, they are also employed with a few other tasks. The scissors can also be used to cut through thicker fabrics, such as canvas. Because the nippers are so easy to hold, it is possible to use them to make a very straight cut in the fabric. Along with cutting into thick material, the nippers are also ideal tools for popping or ripping a seam on clothing made with heavier fabric, such as denim.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


@Ana1234-- Oh, I use thread nippers for other things sometimes. Sometimes, it's just conveniently laying in front of me and I'm too lazy to get a scissors from the other room. I should stop doing that though. You're right, they will get blunt.


The most annoying thing when I have to stitch something is not getting the thread into the needle. Regular scissors doesn't make a fine cut, it damages the thread as it cuts and there are usually smaller threads sticking out. These make it difficult to put the thread through the needle sometimes, especially if it's a fine thread and a fine needle.

This is basically the only reason I invested in thread nippers. I wouldn't have bought them but I realized that I need something that won't damage the thread. Otherwise, fixing a button can be unbelievable nerve wrecking because it takes me forever to get the needle threaded.


The other great part about thread nippers is that they work at all strange angles. Sometimes, I need to remove a stitch that was done earlier. For example, if I need to make something larger or longer. It's very challenging to get a regular sized scissors into those tight spots and different angles. It just doesn't work.

Thread nippers are small and compact so they can get in anywhere and cut the stitches to remove them without damaging the fabric. It's a great invention, stitching would be more difficult without it.


@browncoat - They say that one of the ways anthropologists can identify tailors and seamstresses in ancient sites is by checking their teeth. That people with that profession will actually wear a tiny groove into their front tooth after a while, from nipping thread so often.


@Ana1234 - Occasionally using thread nippers as sewing scissors isn't going to blunt them that much. My mother had a sewing machine that passed down to me when she passed away and it came with a pair of thread nippers. They were still as sharp as ever and she used that sewing machine a lot. I think she was probably in the habit of nipping the thread with her teeth sometimes, though.

I was actually delighted to find the nippers as they were in a little hidden compartment in the bottom of the sewing machine that I didn't discover for a long time. It was like finding a little bit of practical treasure.


Unless you have a way of sharpening your thread nipper I wouldn't be too quick to use it for other purposes. The sharper it is, the better it will cut thread and it's very annoying to have ragged ends on your thread so that it won't go through the needle properly.

I'd keep sewing shears handy for any other kinds of cloth cutting and only use the thread nippers for the purpose they are intended to do.

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