Learn How to Remove Stitches and Fix Mistakes While Sewing
Hey y’all, today we’re going to take a closer look at an essential sewing tool, the seam ripper. Seam rippers are one of my five must have notions I think everyone needs in their sewing kit, not just something nice to have. And I want to show you something about seam rippers that I’ve found even many experienced sewing people don’t know – what that red ball on the seam ripper is for!
Now, strictly speaking, you don’t have to have a seam ripper. You can pick stitches out with small scissors, or even use a straight razor as I did for many years before I tried a seam ripper. BUT this tool is specifically designed for this task, seam ripping is a common task even for experienced sewists, and seam rippers are generally very affordable, so for all these reasons I strongly suggest always having one in your sewing kit.
Seam ripping is the act of unsewing a seam you sewed together. There are many reasons to use a seam ripper, and not all of them are due to making sewing mistakes, though that is one of the most common reasons I pull out my seam ripper. But sometimes you sew a seam knowing from the get go that it’s going to be temporary – for example, when you’re installing a zipper in a seam. You need the basting stitches to hold the seam to get a nice zipper installation in that case, and a seam ripper can be very useful to take those stitches out quickly.
So, check out the video below or on YouTube here to see how to use a seam ripper, including that trick I mentioned that a lot of people don’t know.
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My personal favorite seam ripper is this ergonomic one (affiliate link), which also includes a rubbery end tip that you can use to help remove the tiny threads left behind on the the fabric after seam ripping.
And if you skipped the video, there are really only two steps to using a this notion. First, use the pointed end to unpick a few stitches.
Then, turn the tool so that the red ball is in the seam and continue to carefully push it up the seamline to cut all the stitches. *Caution – don’t use this part of the technique on delicate fabrics. It’s too easy to tear holes in them doing this. Check out the video above, I demonstrated on a silk scrap and got holes very quickly.
Wondering how to seam rip on knit fabrics? Because knit fabrics stretch, it’s not a great idea to try to push the seam ripper along a seam, you’ll get holes just like you do with delicate fabrics. In addition, since knit fabrics are generally sewn with some sort of side to side needle motion in the stitch to maintain stretch, you’ll need to unpick one stitch at a time with these.
To extract the small pieces of thread left after using the seam ripper I wrap sticky tape around the fingers of my left hand with the sticky side outward and pat it over the little threads. The sticky tape easily and neatly picks up the threads with no mess.
I find if you want to seam-rip along the whole seam, it works much better to leave the fabric lying flat on the table; much less chance that it will create holes.
Thanks for teaching me something new!
Now that was a handy trick, I had no idea. Thank you!
This tool is also fantastic for cleaning your hairbrush