How to Use a Seam Ripper

In this article, you will learn the anatomy of a seam ripper and how to undo your inevitable sewing mistakes fast, easy and neatly! Ready?!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if life came with an undo tool?!

Maybe a wand we could wave after every stupid, ignorant mistake we’ve ever made. And presto, gone! Just like that!

Mm… sounds lovely, right?!

Okay, enough with the unrealistic dreams about life and let’s get back to sewing.

Here’s the thing…

It has happened to me. It has happened to the best tailors and dressmakers in the world. And, my friend, it will happen to you.

Yes, there will come a time when you will have to undo a stitching line or seam that just isn’t quite right.

And while life doesn’t give us undos, a seam ripper does.

In this article, you will learn the anatomy of a seam ripper and the easiest way to properly undo a stitching line without making holes in your fabric or shedding tears.

Now, let’s learn how to undo…

Rules of Ripping Out a Seam

Rule #1: Relax and slow down, please. Rushing may just lead to tears if you end up with an ugly hole in your fabric.

Rule #2: Always unpick from the wrong side (WS) of the fabric.

Rule #3: Lay your fabric flat on a surface. Yes, you should!

The Anatomy of a Seam Ripper

A seam ripper is a very simple tool!

It has…

  • a point to lift the stitch;
  • a point with a red ball that protects your fabric; and
  • a u-shaped blade that slices the stitch.
How to Use a Seam Ripper

How to Use a Seam Ripper

The seam ripper is a super easy tool to use too!

Here’s how to CTRL-Z, or undo, stitches…

How to Use a Seam Ripper

Step 1: First, turn your project to its WS with the needle thread side up, and then lay it flat on a surface. Laying it flat reduces the likelihood that you will damage your fabric!

Step 2: Then, carefully, unpick the backstitching at both ends of the stitching line.

Step 3: Next, carefully, slip the seam ripper under every fifth stitch or so, cutting the stitches with the u-shaped blade. If the stitch length is very short, then unpick every other stitch.

Step 4: Once you’ve done this down the entire length of the stitching line, turn your project over and use the point of the seam ripper to gently lift — not tug — the bobbin thread away from the fabric.

How to Use a Seam Ripper

Once you’ve completed the steps above…

Step 5: Turn it back over to the needle size and remove the snipped threads. 

And if some pesky threads insist on staying, remove them with a strip of Scotch tape or a lint roller.

Psst! But if you’ve taken my very good advice and bought yourself a hulk of a seam ripper, you can just “erase” them away with the white rubber end. And you’re done!

Ultimate Guide to Cutting Tools

Sew easy tip #1: If you’re having problems seeing the threads in dark fabric, mark the seam line with dustless chalk to bring those stitches out of hiding.

Sew easy tip #2: Seam rippers dull with use. And they cannot be sharpened. So replace it as needed!

The End

Ripping out a seam or stitching line is inevitable and super easy!

Show your seam ripper some love and it will love you right back by allowing you to undo mistakes.

And remember:

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!