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Are you looking for some helpful tips on how to make the most of your stitch unpicker tool? These instructions will guide you through the proper seam ripper use and teach you how to quickly and effortlessly remove seams.
Seam ripper use
Whether you’ve been sewing for a while or you’re an ultimate beginner, chances are you had to use your seam ripper at least once in your sewing life! But do you know the proper seam ripper use? If you don’t know how to use the seam ripper or you have a hunch you’ve been using it wrong all along, this short tutorial is perfect for you!
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When I first started sewing, many years ago, I didn’t even know what a seam ripper is! I found this little spiky scary looking tool in my beginner sewing kit and I honestly thought it’s a joke! Then my mom, who’s been sewing for over 60 yrs told me its name and I decided that I should look for instructions on the proper seam ripper use at a later date since I didn’t see it as an essential tool for me at that time.
But what does a seam ripper do? I asked my mom. Well, this little tool is basically a sewist’s best friend, she answers, without giving me any details on the seam ripper instructions or any seam ripping tips! She has a knack for being mysteriously elusive and seldom reveals her secrets, which makes it all the more enticing to uncover them (something I’ve been doing since childhood).
I ignored her at the time and moved on, not realizing I would soon need the seam ripper. When the moment came, I used the tool as I saw fit, thinking it was the best approach. However, I quickly discovered the consequences of a single mistake: a broken fabric and a ruined project. That experience taught me the proper way to use the seam ripper. But fear not, as I am here to share my tips with you, so you can avoid such mishaps!
So what is a seam ripper and what does it do?
A seam ripper is a small sewing tool that is used for breaking and removing stitches in a sewing project where you made a mistake. You can always use your scissors for this process but using this tool is a lot faster, precise and more appropriate for small stitches.
The ripper is also known as a ‘stitch unpicker’ or a ‘quick unpick’. The use of the tool is dated back in late 1800s.
A seam ripper is a small sewing tool that is used for breaking and removing stitches in a sewing project where you made a mistake. You can always use your scissors or embroidery scissors which are a little more precise but using this amazing tool is a lot faster, precise and more appropriate for small stitches.
I find this little tool super versatile and easy to use. I use my seam ripper for a lot of other purposes, like cutting the threads in a button or removing an ugly buttonhole. Talking about buttonholes, I also use my seam ripper for opening buttonholes (you can read the tutorial here). And sometimes I cut the tail threads in my projects or the top thread when it gets tangled on the right side of the fabric if my seam ripper is nearby.
The seam ripper is also known as a ‘stitch unpicker’ or a ‘quick unpick’ and the use of this tool is dated back in late 1800s.
What are the seam ripper parts?
A seam ripping tool consists of a handle, shaft, a head and a lid for the head.
The head is split into two pieces: a sharp point tip and a blunt tip with a little red ball on top. Between these two tips there’s a very sharp little bridge/blade which is used to cut the threads/seams.
How do you use the seam ripper?
Some people wrongly use just the pointy tip to rip their seams out or they place it under the seam, ripping the fabric instead of the seam. I’ll get into more details below but with a proper seam ripper use you will get to use both tips with success. The pointy tip is used to unpick single stitches or a small number of stitches while the ball point tip is used to rip out entire rows of stitches or seams in just one quick go.
Below I’ll show you a simple tutorial on how to make the best out of this essential sewing tool, and rip out a seam allowance or a stitch in a blink of an eye! This method works best for cotton fabrics but with a little care you can apply it to delicate fabrics too such as silk or satin. While it does work for knits too, I found it harder to rip out an entire seam in one go, I had to do it in smaller batches.
The seam ripper, with its sharp and curved blade, is skillfully designed to slide between the threads without damaging the fabric, making it an indispensable tool in every sewer’s kit. But for that, you must know the proper seam ripper use.
How to use a seam ripper properly
- seam ripper
- piece of fabric with a seam
- lint roller
Open a few stitches
- Start by pinching a few stitches at one end of the seam that you’re unhappy with. Pass the pointy tip of your seam ripper under these stitches and cut them using the sharp bridge in the tool.
- After you’ve loosen up a few stitches, put the tool away for now and using your hands grab the fabric on both sides of the seam and open the seam a little.
Position the seam ripper correctly
- Get the seam ripping tool again and this time make the use of the ball point tip. Place this tip under the seam until the seam touches the sharp bridge in the tool.
Unpick the entire seam in one go
- Hold the fabric with the opposite hand and push the tool against the seam. The tool should rip through the seam with no effort and you get to unpick the entire seam in just one smooth go.
- Once the seam is ripped, remove the top stitch with your fingers.
Clean up with a lint roller
- Grab the lint roller and remove any small threads left behind.
- Open the seam that you just ripped and run the line roller over the inside of the seam to remove the small threads there too.
- Repeat for the opposite side of the fabric
- Now you should have a clean area on both sides of the fabric. And you can redo the seam, this time with no mistakes.
Mastering the use of the seam ripper has the potential to save your sewing projects, as well as your sanity. As you’ve learned, this tool isn’t as intimidating once you understand how to use it effectively.
If you want more useful tips and exciting sewing tutorials like this one delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter! Also, I’d love to hear about your experiences with the seam ripper. Leave a comment below sharing your stories or tips. Happy sewing!
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