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How to Properly Use a Seam Ripper

The seam ripper is a must-have in every sewer’s toolbox, whether brand new to the game or a veteran of the craft. All sewers make mistakes, and do-overs are a natural part of the sewing experience. Ripping out seams is a tedious task that can be messy, but it doesn’t have to be. It is very easy to learn how to properly use a seam ripper.

Seam Ripper - How to Properly Use

While there’s no right or wrong way to remove stitches, there is a relatively simple method that makes the dreaded task lightening fast and leaves the seam clean.

Follow these simple steps to learn how to properly use a seam ripper:

Removing a Seam

Step 1:

It begins by creating a thread tail long enough to grab a hold of with one hand. Starting at one end of the seam, simply pick out enough stitches, one by one, with the seam ripper until enough thread has been extracted from the seam.

 Removing Stitches

Pulling on Thread Tail

Step 2:

Grab a hold of that newly released tail and pull in the direction of the seam hard enough until it breaks. Good job, you are on your way!

 Pulling the Thread Until it Breaks

Step 3:

Turn the seam over to the opposite side of the seam. Grab hold of the loosened stitches, which should form a new tail long enough to grab a hold of, and pull in the same manner as before until the thread breaks. Turn the seam over again and repeat the process as many times necessary until the full seam has been ripped out.

In a few minutes the seam is open. The best part is no thread or stitch residue remains to be picked out. The opened seam is clean and ready to go!

Note: This process is efficient and fast on any straight stitched seams. It works well on most fabrics, but is not recommended on very delicate fabrics, as the pulling action may tear the fabric. Always test first to be certain the fabric can handle the pulling of the threads. Unfortunately, this method is not suitable for stitches with width, such as zigzag or overcast stitches.

Every sewing dilemma has a solution if you look hard enough for one. This one is easy and once you get the hang of it, you will never go back to the tedious method of picking out a seam, stitch by stitch.

Check out the Bluprint class 40 Techniques Every Sewer Should Know to learn more helpful sewing tips and tricks!

You might also enjoy my post on unexpected tools for the sewing room.

Have you used this technique before?

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“When my thread breaks…”



Thank you! Those of us who are learning from scratch on our own really need these tips and tricks to make life easier. Great little useful tutorial. 🙂 Di

Mea M Cadwell

For those itty bitty pieces of thread that seem to stick around afterwards, I wrapped a rubber band around the handle of my seam ripper. Use it like you are erasing the seam and those little bits of thread come right out.

Glynis Whitaker

That sounds a good idea. Will definitely try this.


I used to unpick seams this way as taught by Mum. However recently I read about a much better way. Simply pick out the stitches every 4th or so, then turn over and pull the whole length of thread out.
Yes you will have pesky bits to remove, but, there is no pulling the fabric and there is something so exciting about getting the whole thread out in one piece.

Glynis Whitaker

I usually use the method above. Will try this next time and compare. Thanks Lane.


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