In sewing, eventually you are going to have to remove some stitches. While a seam ripper is often people’s go-to tool for this task, it isn’t the only one. ZJ Humbach talks about several different ways to remove stitches when needed.
How to Remove Sewing Stitches
The Rip Method:
ZJ begins by showing the most literal way to rip out stitches, which is to hold the pieces of fabric that you want to remove the stitching from and rip them apart. While it is a fairly efficient method, you end up with lots of needle and bobbin thread on both pieces of fabric that you then need to go back and pick out. Also, depending on the fabric that was being sewn and the thread used, you could permanently distort the fabric using this method.
ZJ then shows a seam ripper, which is one of the most commonly used tools when removing sewing stitches. She shows the proper way to use the tool and how to ensure that the tool is only cutting the sewing thread and does not damage the fibers of the fabric.
The Scissors Method:
The final method, and her preferred method, is to use a small pair of scissors or snips to remove the stitches. She shows how she does this by clipping a thread every few stitches and then pulling out the thread. Not only does this method not damage your fabric, but it can allow you to remove the stitching in long lengths of thread at a time so there is less that you need to go back and pick out.
While some of these methods are great for removing sewing stitches, they can also be helpful when wanting to learn how to easily remove serger stitches. And if after ripping out your seams, you decide that you don’t want to re-sew something, learn how you can go about using fusible hem tape in place of stitching.
I was recently sewing automatic buttonholes and my thread broke. I used the seam ripper to undo it which was VERY difficult and time consuming because the stitches are so dense. Any tips for this problem? Thank you.
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Yikes! I can imagine that was very difficult and frustrating. Unfortunately, I don’t see any other way around it. Unless you put some Fray Check on the place the thread broke, then finished the buttonhole using a zigzag stitch with a matching width and length as the buttonhole stitch zigzag. Depending on where you were in the stitch when the thread broke, you might need to note on the fabric how long to make your buttonhole legs and where to put the bartack.
This video goes into more detail on the buttonhole foot and how to create buttonholes without the buttonhole foot, simply using a zigzag stitch.
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One thing I did not see you mention is that it’s almost always easier to snip and pull from the bobbin side of the stitching. I find I can snip further apart and pull longer threads out from the bobbin side.
I once read a suggestion for getting the bits of thread out easily afterwards. It was to roll the seam over with one of those sticky rollers which are used to take pet hairs, etc. off clothes (I assume you have them in the US, but I don’t live there). Most of them have a layer of sticky paper which you remove once it is “full” and no longer sticky.
ZJ says in the video at 2:12 that the brand is “Havel’s”. They have several kinds of snips, which you can see here: https://www.havelssewing.com/embroidery-scissors-snips. My best guess is that they are the 4 3/4″ embroidery scissors. The 4 1/2″ snip-a-stich scissors look useful too.
Very informative. What brand are the snips and are they straight or curved?
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