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Forum > Sewing Techniques and Tips > Ripping Out Seams ( Moderated by MissCelie)

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Ripping Out Seams
What is the fastest way?
ssssdeb
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ssssdeb  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/4/09 1:46 AM

I have asked tailors and professional alterations people, and they just say "practice" but I've ripped probably a million (lol) seams in my day so that won't do the trick. How do they rip seams out so quickly in shops where they have to work fast? I spend way too much time ripping out seams - both regular straight stitch and serger - and have used every tool in the book. Right now I'm using Havel's surgical blades. They are sure sharp, but it still takes me forever it seems to rip out. Any tips on speed??? Thanks!

my horse
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my horse
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In reply to ssssdeb


Date: 5/4/09 2:12 AM

Not sure there is a fast way! When in doubt....baste first.

I'm sure there are others who have a better way than I do but I'll share what I do. I think the key is to be sure not to tighten the stitches as you go, which regular seam rippers seam to do. On straight stitches I snip the bobbin thread every 12-15 stitches and then pull them out in sections. The top thread then pulls loose.

On serger stitching I use embroidery snips or fine blade scissors and cut the looper threads all the way up the seam. Then I do the straight stitch technique for the needle thread(s). It makes a mess but it works without stretching the seam allowance. I hope someone has a miracle technique for this one

Edit for spelling
-- Edited on 5/4/09 2:13 AM --

------
She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. Proverbs 31:13 NAS

petro
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Date: 5/4/09 4:04 AM

No brilliant suggestions, eagerly awaiting someone else's.... anyone else's. Just add something I read, which may be a PR tip, (not sure where I read it but it works), use scotch tape along the seam allowance afterwards to pick out those pesky little bits of stuck on thread.

Sew4Fun
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In reply to ssssdeb


Date: 5/4/09 5:46 AM

I wrote this tipon how to unpick a serged seam. Hope it helps.

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Belinda. Melbourne, Australia
http://sew-4-fun.blogspot.com/

CM_Sews
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Date: 5/4/09 6:05 AM

I use one of those Third Hand clamps like this one sold at Clotilde's to hold one side of the seam. It means I can pull on the other side of the seam, not to rip the threads, but rather to apply some tension such that the threads are exposed and easier to cut. The goal isn't to rip the threads by pulling the seam apart, but rather to apply just a bit of outward pressure to open the seam slightly.

I'm not sure I've exlained that very well. I start ripping the seam in some "normal" method until I have in inch or so of ripped seam, then clamp one side in the clamp, apply some pressure and cut those exposed threads. Every 6-12 inches (depends on the fabric), I stop and reposition the clamp close to the spot where I'm still ripping the seam.

All the catalog entries I find for the third-hand clamp talk about using it to sew seams, but I think I've almost always used it for ripping seams. It has a clever lever-system construction such that the harder you pull on the fabric, the tighter the clamp holds the fabric.

An alternate method that I use when ripping quilt piecing (which tend to be much shorter seams) is to cut every third stitch on the bobbin side of the seam. A small seam ripper with a narrow point works well for this. The advantage is that the two quilt patches just slip apart as easy as can be with no pressure on the seam allowance at all. Some small bits of bobbin thread to brush away, and the needle thread comes away in one piece. This is probably not faster, but the 1/4-inch seam allowances don't get distorted.

CMC

Doris W. in TN
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In reply to ssssdeb


Date: 5/4/09 8:30 AM

Why are you having to rip out a lot of serger seams? If that is your construction seam, then you might want to run a machine basting stitch first. They're easier to rip out. Ask me how I know. Even when I make tee shirts, I run the seam on the sewing machine first, to check fit.

Sewliz
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In reply to ssssdeb


Date: 5/4/09 9:23 AM

They probably just rip straight stitched seams in many fabrics the old fashioned way, literally ripping. Snip the threads at one end of the seam enough to be able to grab the fabric ends and yank. It does take practice, that's the funny thing! You have to yank just right, surprise the thread so to speak. Perhaps similar to the fabric stores where they snip the selvage then tear the fabric instead of cutting.

Do I rip seams this way myself? Yes, often I do, and it is surprising how many fabrics one can do this with. Zippers can be taken out this way too. Not if the edges are serged though.

Seam rippers are useful but dull much to quickly IMHO. Those Havel style blades are a faster way to go. I have a razor blade holder that was in my grandmothers sewing box which I am sure she used in the Havel tool way.

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Liz

thefittinglife.blogspot.com

KitnRose
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Date: 5/4/09 11:47 AM

No suggestions, but I'm learning a lot reading this. I'd never thought to rip a seam and the idea of using tape to grab the tiny threads that get EVERYWHERE is brilliant.

------
Kit
"Never underestimate the power of the right dress!" - drsue
"Hyu gots to know how to sveet tok de costumers, dollink" - Girl Genius, 11-24-08

ssssdeb
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Date: 5/4/09 11:55 AM

Sometimes basting is not an option - I can be ripping seams from ready-to-wear for alterations. I'm at the mercy of however that was sewn in the first place. Yesterday I made something that came out perfect and then the final embroidery design messed up badly (another story for another day) and I wanted to salvage parts - zipper, ribbing, etc. to redo the project. It took me so long to undo the ribbing that I wrote this post out of frustration. I used to have an alterations place do some rtw stuff for me when I lost a lot of weight and I was amazed at how fast they could fix something while I waited. It's not the alterations I have a problem with, but simply the time - the ripping out time. I asked them what they do and nobody is allowed in their sewing area to watch for safety reasons! That would have been invaluable to me and I knew safety wouldn't really be an issue, but they have their rules so I respected that. But I was not asking for reasons regarding fit and skipping basting or serging as the only seam and then having problems. It's other issues that just seem to come up - probably not as often as I think but ripping out is my least favorite part of sewing

ssssdeb
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Date: 5/4/09 4:15 PM

Thanks for the handy tips. I wonder if the shops are using the clamp type device. I will buy one of those for sure. I don't know if local fabric stores carry it, but if not thank you for the easy link. Ripping didn't work last night. I think ripping works sometimes, but not all the time. And there is always a risk with ripping. But when it does work it's a charm.
-- Edited on 5/4/09 4:27 PM --

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