Have you tried an electric seam ripper?

For anyone with manual dexterity problems, or anyone with a lot of seam ripping to do, this electric seam ripper is the answer!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!

Can you actually save money, time or get better results if you invest in a better seam ripper? Interesting take on sewing tool quality.

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 didn'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.


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.  I really love this free-form style of quilting, like real fabric art.

Kit collage

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 on 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 reinforced part of the stitching where I had backstitched at the start of the row.  That was enough to get me started.

electric seam ripper - starting the seam

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.

electric seam ripper - cutting the threads

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.

electric seam ripper - the little threads

However, the bottom layer is one long piece of uncut thread which you can just pull off easily.

electric seam ripper - bobbin thread

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 beehive.  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.

You can find more info on the Seam-Fix by clicking the image below:

electric seam ripper - clean seam

Thank you, Michelle, for my bag of goodies and especially my Quick Ripper.  I'll certainly be putting this little tool through its paces in my sewing space.

electric seam ripper

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This battery-operated seam ripper is ideal for removing flawed seams. The seam ripper comes with a cleaning brush, blade cover and a single (AA)battery.

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47 Responses to Have you tried an electric seam ripper?

  1. Bonnie Cotton says:

    I have one of the little hair trimmers and tried it to remove stitches. I found that it didn’t get down into the seam like the trimmer sold as a stitch removal tool can. I did discover from reading these posts that I have been using my tool incorrectly and managed to cut my fabric this way. I will try this method next time. Good info from all. Thank you…

  2. Judy says:

    Don’t know if anyone else commented on the loose thread dilemma but I use a bit of scotch tape to easily pick them off . Love your site by the by .I have found many sewing tips and projects . You explain thing so well .Thank you .Keep up the great work .

  3. Ivlia Blackburn says:

    Is this available in the UK and Republic of Ireland, if where? T’would be ideal for me as, like you, I frequently design my own patterns and this means that unpicking is part of the process as I test designs and fittings. I also do lots of alterations for others which also involve plenty of unpicking. This looks to be the answer to my prayers. I just have to find a local seller.

  4. M-E Jinno says:

    I just use a small rotary cutter to slice the threads between 2 layers. Can be used to remove Jeans seams also. This looks like a hair trimmer I used to use when my DH had hair.I have also scraped seams with a single edge razor blade. My buddies all squirm when I use a blade. It works very well.

  5. Kim Antonsen says:

    Can this be used effectively on merged or commercial seams, I do quite a bit of re-purposing and often remove the seam instead of cutting the fabric around the seam.

  6. Brandy says:

    That is the exact same trimmer that Wahl also sells as a pet fur trimmer in the pet department of Walmart for less. Works great for paws.

  7. Connie says:

    I have one and love it. I also use a mini lint roller to remove the bits of thread. When quilting with my quilting group and we hear the tell tale buzz, we call it the Buzz of Shame.

  8. Gail Hafey says:

    That looks identical to the little battery operated trimmer that I use to trim up the hair on my dogs paws, not sure I would want to try that particular one on my sewing projects though!

  9. Sandra Bassett says:

    I bought one a few years ago (The Stitch Remover). At the time it was marketed for machine embroidery. You run it on the underside of an embroidery “mistake”. Takes a bit of time but works well. It would also work as a normal seam ripper as you described.

  10. Mary Magnus says:

    Anyone know if you can use to get out those awful “nests” that sometimes appear on the backside of a quilt, when attempting to machine quilt on a frame? Or serger seams on fleece.

  11. Sewing Angel says:

    To easily remove the tiny thread, try a sticky fluff roller (lint roller). That will keep your surface clean. 😉

  12. Karen says:

    I do alterations and mending for people and my hands and shoulders really tire from taking out seams all day long. This ingenious method of unsewing really appeals to me! As soon as I get a few sheckels together, I am buying one of these babies to make my life easier! Awesome posts today!

  13. Charlene says:

    Have you used the electric seam ripper on fabrics other than non-stretch cottons?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Never, I only use a seam reaper with the little red ball. Let me know how you find it, please. I am curious.

  14. Margaret Clemons says:

    I have one it is worth the buy

  15. Sharon Hahn says:

    This seems to be no more than a smaller version of a mustache trimmer.

  16. Ethel Meyers says:

    This looks really useful. Lord knows how much seam ripping I have to do and it takes so long by hand. My hands are getting a bit arthritic so I think this might help. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

  17. nicole campbell says:

    Thanks for the review! Would you recommend this or the brass seam ripper shown in your previous review if you could only buy one?

  18. Denise says:

    I bought because I am a long arm quilter. I was not real happy with it. It is a bit cumbersome to use. I will try it on embroidery next time to see how it work on that. As far as a regular seam, I am faster with a traditional “ripper”.

  19. Gail Brassfield says:

    The lots of little thread cuts can be removed easily with painters blue tape. Put a length of tape over the thread cuts, press the tape down by running your finger over the top. Pull the tape off. This cleans up almost all of the thread cuts. Easy! 🙂

  20. Leslie says:

    How does it work on stretch or delicate fabrics ? I know that sometimes with the stretch stitching the stitches are much closer together and the fabric sometimes gets in the way. I do a lot of refashioning, so I’m often taking out seams.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      It is always tricky to have to take out seams on such fabrics even if you are doing it the all fashion way.

  21. Donna White says:

    It is great to use on minky seams! I love mine.

  22. ROTHA Bugter says:

    Yes i was taught that it was an Unpicker!!!! Telling my age, hey?? I have NOT got one but would love to get one. Where though?? i live in Australia regards Rotha

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Rotha, unfortunately, I’m not sure where to get one in Australia. Most of the sellers on Amazon don’t seem to ship to Aus. Have you tried Spotlight?

    • Jane says:

      ROTHA Bugter, these comments are from a couple of years ago so I would think you have found one by now, but just in case mine came from ozquilts.com.au which is in Victoria. They were the cheapest and post things the day you order. Jane

  23. JennyS says:

    I laughed when I read your comment about the term “seam ripper” Deby. I was reminiscing a while ago when someone called hers a “quick-unpick” , which was the term we used when we learned to sew at school 50 years ago in the UK. Our sewing teacher (the redoubtable Miss Fishwick) made us redo over and over again any parts of a seam that weren’t perfectly straight (always French seams). I’d never heard them called seam rippers until I retook up sewing about 6 years ago and found the global sewing community. Seam ripper seems so harsh, I’ll continue to call mine my quick un-pick. Thanks for all the fab patterns and inspiration.

  24. Marriane T says:

    Interesting! I don’t really use much seam rippers but this one looks cool.

  25. Dawn says:

    I bought the exact same thing (without the logo) at Freds Discount Store for $5

  26. Jennifer says:

    I’ve got one of those, I bought it to grimy hubbys sideburns and trim my dogs feet. Never hear them called seam rippers or used for that. I paid about £5 for mine. It is battery and has lasted for months

  27. MD says:

    The Wahl runs on a battery—not electricity.

  28. MD says:

    It is the same thing. I bought this Quick Ripper for $20 at a quilt show. I learned later that it is a Wahl hair trimmer. The little “sticker” on this picture that shows the “Quick Qripper” is covering up the WAHL logo! Buy it for $7-8 at aDrug Emporium!

  29. Calditer says:

    Why does the quick ripper looks like a hair trimmer? Will a hair trimmer work?

    • Deby says:

      It’s certainly very similar but this one is specifically designed for that purpose. If you have a trimmer, you could always give it a try on some scrap fabric and see how you get on. I know that not all electric seam rippers are created equal, after having had the opportunity to try out several. They might look the same, but this one worked the best for me, from all those I tried.

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