And now for the post that should’ve gone up last year! Since (hypothetically) you just finished your first sewing machine project, there’s a very good possibility that you made a mistake somewhere along the line. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I believe that making mistakes and fixing them makes you better at what you’re doing. Guess how many times I tell my 11-year-old daughter that during sewing lessons. Anyway, fixing mistakes when you are hand sewing is, arguably, much easier than when you’ve been working on a sewing machine. When you’re working with running stitch, you can just cut one knot or another and pull the entire thread out in one motion. When you work with a sewing machine, all of your stitches are interlocked, so you have to work a little harder. That’s where the seam ripper comes in. I actually went for several years without buying this incredibly inexpensive tool in lieu of using scissors, razor blades, and pins to pick out my sewing mistakes. Why? I don’t know. Once I bought a new one, I discovered exactly how much easier it is to actually use the tool that’s designed with a job. Who knew? Here’s a quick tutorial on the parts of a seam ripper and how to use one. To me, the biggest deciding factor on whether I’m going to like using a seam ripper or not is the handle. The seam rippers I used when I was younger were tiny – 2 inches or shorter. I never liked how they fit in my hand which lead me to stop using them. Recently, the seam rippers have started getting longer handles. My current seam ripper has a handle that’s about 3 inches long. I personally like that a lot more, but you might prefer the little handle to the big one. Some of the more expensive (read $6-$10) versions of seam rippers have ergonomically shaped handles. I haven’t tried those yet, but they could be really cool. The point of the seam ripper is to slip under the stitches while the blade is to cut them. The ball protects the top of your fabric from snagging. The following pictures are from an alteration I did on an off-the-rack blouse’s shoulder straps, but the concept of seam ripping is the same whether you made it or someone else did. Any seam you make will look like this from the outside. From this vantage point, it looks perfectly secure and unable to be taken apart. It’s actually really easy. First you’re going to stretch out the seam. When you do that, you can see the stitches in a ladder down the seam. Then, slip the point of your seam ripper under the first stitch. Push the seam ripper forward until the blade cuts the thread. After two or three, the thread will loosen so that you can fit your seam ripper into the space and cut several threads at once.
Now, if you’re deconstructing something from the store, you’ll probably realize that the seam isn’t the only place where the item is connected. Most store-bought items have been serged along the seam allowance. If you don’t, a serger is a special sewing machine that finishes seams to prevent fraying. For serging, I put the point of my seam ripper down the three or four crisscrossed threads that run perpendicular to the edge of the fabric and cut all of them at once. I’ve found that serging actually comes out a lot easier than regular stitching, but that’s my experience. As you’ll see in that picture, you’ll be left with a lot of broken threads. There’s this neat little tool I keep seeing at my local sewing shop that has a silicone tip. You’re supposed to run it along your loose threads and it catches them and pulls them onto it. I haven’t bought it because I just use some masking tape and it does the same thing. It’s one of the new tools I’m going to pick up in the new year though.
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