Like a good friend that’s always there for you, your seam ripper will see you through some rough times. I consider this an essential notion and make sure mine is always handy, as I never know when trouble may strike.
If you’ve never used a seam ripper before and you’re wondering what that little red ball is on the end, this article will explain it and give you some tips for making the most of this little tool.
From taking out basting stitches, to replacing a zipper, to “unsewing” a horrifying mistake, your seam ripper will save you time and help you to remove the unwanted stitches safely and accurately without destroying your fabric.
You want to begin by gently using the pointy end to pick out a few stitches. Make sure to have good lighting as sometimes the thread matches the fabric so well, it’s hard to see the tiny stitches. Then, if your fabric is sturdy enough (i.e. woven denim), you can turn the seam ripper over so that the red ball is in the seam and slowly, carefully, using the U shaped cutting part of the tool, push the seam ripper up the seam, cutting the stitches. It works best for a long seam if you can lay the fabric flat on a table.
The red ball needs to go down towards the inside of your project. This protects the fabric and helps to slide the seam ripper through the stitches. If you place the pointed edge down towards the fabric with the red ball up, there is more of a chance you can tear the fabric (trust me, I know!). Keep the sharp point up and away from the fabric.
For thin, delicate, or stretchy fabrics, it’s best to just unpick a stitch or two at a time as the fabric can become distorted, or worse yet, stitches can pull through causing small holes. Discretion is needed to determine if your fabric is sturdy enough to slide the seam ripper down the seam or not. Always error on the side of caution – a few more minutes of work is better than a big snag or tear.
Here are some images of different types of seam rippers available. Not all of them have the red safety ball. Try a few different ones and see which works best for you, but don’t have just one – put one in your sewing basket, one by your sewing machine and maybe another on your pressing table. Having them handy whenever the “uh-oh” moment arises will save time and frustration.
In this video, My Worst Sewing Nightmare, you will see how I rely on my trusty seam ripper to get me through a tough time.
Happy Seam Ripping!
Glenda the Good Stitch