I'm not a big fan of “un-sewing”. Perhaps I do it more than most because I often design my own patterns so along the way there is a lot of testing, experimenting, and altering things as they are developed. That often means that a seam needs to be unpicked. I'm interested where the phrase seam ripping and the term seam ripper came from. Certainly most of the fabrics I sew with, if I make a mistake there is no way I can just ‘rip' that seam open to undo the stitches – that would damage the fabric. So I like to unpick or “un-sew” them, and let's face it, sometimes that can take a long time and can be a bit tedious if you do it over and over. (Not that I would ever make any sewing mistakes of course – wink.)
I've been through my fair share of seam rippers these past couple of years, so much so that I used to buy my seam rippers 4 at a time because there is nothing that drives me crazy faster than a seam ripper that just isn't sharp enough. Then at last I discovered where I was going wrong – cheap seam rippers just weren't good enough and didn't last long enough for the amount of work they had to do in my sewing room. That probably says a lot more about my sewing than it does about the seam rippers – blush.
I wrote about it in fact in this earlier article about seam rippers, and then after hearing such great reviews, I treated myself to a super-shiny and super-sharp brass seam ripper and I never looked back!
So I've been merrily sewing along and making excessive use of my new sharp brass seam ripper. You do have to be a bit careful though, it is VERY sharp and if I did't take care, I could actually cut the fabric with it. So – take care!
Then I met a very nice lady and she brought me a present 🙂 Quilter, designer and teacher extraordinaire Michelle Watts dropped in to the Cayman Islands and she and I met up one evening for beach-side drinks. I was hopeless and didn't even think to bring gifts, then felt completely embarrassed when she gave me a huge bag of sewing goodies to enjoy – what a lovely lady.
Do drop over and check out her page and see her wonderful designs. Got a quilt group? She travels to give amazing classes and lectures too and would love an invite to come and present or teach to your group. And just check out the beautiful Cayman Vacation quilt on this page – I really love this free-form style of quilting, like real fabric art.
Anyway, one of the awesome sewing and quilting goodies she brought me was the Quick Ripper – an electric seam ripper. I didn't even know there was such a thing! With the amount of un-sewing I do, this came out top of my must-use list. Check out her video on how it works.
Watch how to use the Electric Seam Ripper
How to use the electric seam ripper
No! Surely it's not that quick and easy to use? Actually yes it is! Worked just perfectly for me on my first attempt.
I used the Quick Ripper with the flat side down and just slid the blades up the the reinforced part of the stitching where I had back stitched at the start of the row. That was enough to get me started.
That easily snipped through those double stitches and then I was away. I turned the Quick Ripper the other way up and as I opened the seam, the blades run along the fabric without damaging it and the side to side action catches the thread of the stitch and cuts it. It goes along opening up that seam really fast! See how the blades trim the thread and don't even come close to the fabric.
If you have any kind of manual dexterity problems, then this could be the answer for you when it comes to seam ripping. However, it's not 100% perfect because it does trim each thread which means of course you do end up with this. Lots of little cut threads on the top layer.
However the bottom layer is one long piece of uncut thread which you can just pull off easily.
All it really takes is for you to run your fingers over those small thread pieces and just brush them away and it's done. It's probably quicker than removing all the bits of thread left in a seam from a conventional blade seam ripper. In fact there is also a cool little tool you can use as well. There is a seam ripper called a Seam Fix on the market that has an ingenious rubber end that looks like a little bee hive. Run that over these little bits of thread to easily brush them away if you want to. Just brushing with your fingers works just fine too.
Thank you Michelle for my bag of goodies and especially my Quick Ripper. I'll certainly be putting this little tool through it's paces in my sewing space.