How to Seam Rip like a Pro!

 

I once wrote a little poem about my seam ripper. That’s how much I rely on it. Odds are you use yours alot to. If you make mistakes, are a perfectionist, or you toile a lot, then you most likely have a close personal relationship with a seam ripper.  But did yours come with instructions for use? Nope mine either. And while you might think it’s pretty obvious how to use a seam ripper,  did you know there are several camps when it comes to how to “properly” use one? I say “properly” because I  don’t personally believe there is a right way and wrong way to everything and if something works for you, then it works. Period. What follows is simply the method that works for me! (I do alot of seam ripping!)seam ripper

Firstly, for the sake of humility I should point out that the “Pro” I refer to in the title of this post is not me. It’s my sewing tutor who has been the cause of many a face palm moment for me. This method of seam ripping was one of them. Left to my own devices when I first started sewing,  I just automatically  ripped the stitches straight up the centre of the seam and pulled the seam apart as I went. This is one method of seam ripping. But I wasn’t even doing that properly, lol! Did you know that little red ball is supposed to face downwards when you seam rip? I didn’t! This is a great video of that method of using a seam ripper and she has the POSHEST seam ripper I have ever seen….Let’s call that Method 1…

seam ripper

A perfectly good method of seam ripping. Except for me..I worry that it can pull/distort the stitch holes on more delicate fabrics (if your stitch ripper isn’t particularly sharp, even more so) and all the little threads that result are really annoying. You can use a strip of masking tape to remove them, but I guess I kinda got used to this method which has the added bonus of being able to pull the thread out in large sections or even one continuous length. Less mess and faff.

 

Method 2:

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

So I’m unpicking a serged hem here but the principles apply to a standard seam/hem too. There are your top stitches right there…

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

And there are your bottom stitches…

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

This is how I would have ripped out that stitching before my tutor showed me the light all those years ago! This is how I stitch rip everything these days..

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

Depending on the fabric I work in 2-3″ sections at a time. I unpick from the top side, (ie the side that was uppermost when you stitched. Not the bobbin thread side) leaving a small tail at either end. No need to unpick all those stitches in the middle…

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

Just pull it right out!

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

From the reverse? Pulling that section of topstitch out, releases the threads underneath. They’ve lost their anchor thread.  If you were ripping a standard seam you can skip the next 2 steps…

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

Pull out the adjacent line of stitching as you did the first…

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

and the rest of the thread on the underside is released…

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

From that point you can then pull the underside thread loose in one…long….

Seam rip like a pro at www.makery.uk

…continuous strip! No tiny thread pieces to hoover up.

This method works on serger and standard stitching.  But personally I think both methods have their place. Method 1 is quicker but has more thread bits to clear up and you potentially risk damaging finer fabric. But if you’re making a toile in calico then it’s perfect because you’re not going to worry too much about pulling every tiny bit of thread out, calico is sturdy, and speed is the factor on a test garment as opposed to what marks or threads are left behind. Conversely, Method 2 is undoubtedly a little slower. But it’s marginal. And there’s less tidying up to do afterwards and less strain on the fabric itself.

Like anything in life…it’s horses for courses!

What’s your preferred method for removing stitches or do you use both methods?

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9 Comments

  1. Rocio April 30, 2015

    Wow, that is just great! I had no idea the little ball had to face downwards….
    I only discovered your blog recently and I love it. I spent the whole afternoon reading through all your posts. Great inspiration and tips, as I also do a bit of refashioning and hoard and hoard random pieces of clothing for years because….well… the fabric is too good to be discarded. Diogenes syndrome? 😉
    Will be visiting you again.

    Reply
    • portia April 30, 2015

      Ah thank you Rocio! Glad you found it useful!

      Reply
  2. Nathalie April 30, 2015

    It I use it on sturdy fabric I use method 1 otherwise I use the second method. Wow I didn’t know the red ball is supposed to face down, I have used it wrong the entire time. Seeing her rip seams with her fancy seam ripper has made me realize that mine is probably blunt. It’s maybe time to buy a new one but a cheap one will do!

    Reply
    • portia April 30, 2015

      I want a seam ripper like that!

      Reply
  3. JJ May 2, 2015

    I like to use my tiny, very pointy, embroidery scissors to rip out seams.

    JJ
    http://www.dressupnotdown.blogspot.com

    Reply
  4. Giselle May 16, 2015

    I read about a third method that I hadn’t known about until recently: cut every 5th stitch or so (depends on stitch length, fabric, weight etc) on one side only and then pull at the intact thread on the other side: the short 5 stitch long lengths of the cut thread will just pop out by themselves. It is the fastest and most ingenious method I’ve ever seen.
    Before that I did a real botch job at seam ripping that involved having to pick short ends from both threads up off the fabric. A right pain in the neck.

    Reply
    • portia May 16, 2015

      Likey!

      Reply
  5. Lorien March 10, 2017

    Thank you SO MUCH for this. I had NO IDEA the ball was supposed to be down. And you saved my fabric with what you wrote about getting the stitch holes out of woven fabric. With the iron and a spoon everything is right in my world again and I can move on with the rest of my life. So thank you!!!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie March 17, 2017

      You’re welcome!!

      Reply

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