Seam Ripper – Types and How to Use Them
ripper is a tool used by seamstresses to remove stitches, open
seams, cut threads and open buttonholes. As "unsewing" is just as
important to a quality finished project as putting in the stitches,
a seam ripper is an invaluable tool for anyone who works with
needle and thread.
Types of Seam Rippers
common type consists of a "u" shaped blade attached to a
handle. One side of the "u" is longer than the other and is
pointed. The other side of the "u" often has a small plastic
ball on it for protection. The inner curve is the sharp
cutting edge of the seam ripper.
The difference in most seam rippers consists of the design and
length of the handles, the thickness of the cutting point and the
"extras" included. You can find them with built in
handles, and other tools.
There are also seam rippers
for taking out serger and embroidery stitches. These "c"
shaped blades are generally surgically sharp and can remove a lot
of stitching quite quickly. (They can also make holes in your
fabric very quickly, so be careful.)
How to Use a Seam Ripper
- There are a few different ways to take out a seam with a seam
ripper. Consider the weight and strength of the fabric you
are using when deciding which method. Always make sure to
work in good light so as not to nick your fabric.
- One quick way to remove a long seam of stitching is to use the
seam ripper to cut every third stitch on one side of a seam.
Once that is done, you can simply pull out the thread on the other
side of the seam.
- If a seam is not stitched too tightly, you can cut the thread
on one side of the seam and pick out and inch or two of
stitches. Grasp this inch or so of thread and gently pull as
to make gathers in the fabric. Just before the thread feels like
it's going to break, cut it at the other end of the
gathers. You should now be able to pull this thread right out
of the seam. (It depends on the weight of your thread and fabric,
and the length of your stitches just how much you can pull out at a
time.) Now, you will have a long thread on the other side of
the seam and you can repeat the process until the entire seam is
- Some seams that are tightly stitched will have to be picked out
one stitch at a time. Slide the tip of the ripper under each
stitch to cut it. A piece of masking tape can be useful for
picking up stray bits of thread.
- To cut open a buttonhole, pierce the fabric at one end of the
inside of your buttonhole with your seam ripper. Bring
up the point of the ripper at the other end of the inside of your
buttonhole and cut. Doing it this way prevents over cutting
your buttonhole. If you have a particularly long buttonhole
you may want to do this in two steps, working from the edge to the
center of the buttonhole.
- To use the "c" type ripper, slide the blade under the stitches,
being careful to keep the point away from your fabric.
- Visit the Dritz Website for information and tips on
Dritz Seam Rippers and other sewing tools
- Visit the Clover USA Blog for information on
Clover Seam Rippers and other Clover Sewing Notions
About the author, Sandy Huntress
With over 30 years of sewing experience and more than 20 years
of crafting I've rarely met a craft I didn't like, and have all the
gadgetry to prove it. You'll often find me in my
sewing and crafting room where I design and make garments, quilts,
scrapbooks, cards, paper crafts, dolls, home decor and
jewelry; just to name a few. I'm always interested in trying
the next new thing and love to share my knowledge with
others. For great sewing and crafting inspiration, ideas and
tutorials, check out Keepsake Crafts.
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