Friday, December 12, 2008

Reverse Sewing, or Pickin' but not Grinnin'

You may call it reverse sewing. Or how about the Frog Song ("Rippit, rippit...")?
I'm sure we've all used colorful language of some sort when it comes to taking out the stitching!
There was once a time, long ago, when quilters used to kid each other:
"I messed this up. Do you have a seam ripper?"
"Oh, no, I don't ever need one!"
Ha, ha, ha.... we became older and wiser, and finally all had seam rippers right at hand.

Here we see a nasty job in progress

I truly advise getting a good seam ripper, not the 59 cent Big Box Special. Use the coupon if you must, but get a good ripper. You will see my two favorites in this post. They are both made by Clover.

Features of a Good Seam Ripper

1. A very long slender "finger" to slide between those tiny machine stitches.
2. A little ball/ bead on the shorter part.
3. A very sharp blade! Why, yes....you can cut yourself with a seam ripper! And thank you for asking!
4. A nice handle to hang on to, or balance in the palm of your hand.
I might also add that it is nice to get one with a cover for the sharp end. You know what I mean if you've ever been digging around in your supplies.....ouch!

How to Rip

Method # 1:
On the bobbin side, slip the long finger between every 3 or 4 stiches and cut them. When you get to the end of the seam or section, turn it over and pull off the top thread...it will come away easily. Separate the pieces of fabric.

Method # 2: (this is why that little bead is on the short finger...) At the start of the seam, pick out a few stitches to open the end. Slip the ripper onto the seam, between the layers. The long finger goes on top, and the beaded part below. Gently hold the fabric layers together with your thumb and index finger on either side of the ripper at the blade (ripper inside fabrics, fingers outside!).
The reason for holding the fabric that way is so you can immediately feel if the ripper is not cutting OR if it is going to poke through the fabric.
If the ripper won't move with gentle force, it is probably clogged up with cut threads.

My favorite ripper...really sharp!

This ripper is really sharp, and comes with a cover. I have two, and I also like to give them as gifts. When you need to rip, a good ripper is much less agrivating.

The new issue of Quilting Home magazine, from that crazy quilter Mark Lipinski, has an article about ripping. He likes to use a rotary cutter. Scary to me, but whatever works for you is the best way to do anything!

I once used the seam ripper that has a light attached. I thought it was heavy & unnecessary.
Then again, I am "at that age" when my terribly near-sighted eyes are changing for the better (but when my optometrist told me that, I said I will never live long enough to not need glasses!).
So I occaisionally take my glasses off for close work, like 3" from my nose.

The amazing thing was that I could even find the camera to take this picture!

It is soooo easy to forget you have a ripper in your hand...this photo makes me think of Gary Larsen's The Far Side cartoon. One of his favorite captions was "Trouble brewing?"
I am happy to report I was very careful today!

The ripping is done now (a series of sashing pieces that had to be changed....at least it wasn't an actual mistake!) and it's time to move on.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It has been said about art, "It's process, not product." If that were true, we'd all spend our days sewing straight and/or complicated seams and then ripping them out again at the end of the day!

The Mysterious Ms. E.

Pat said...

I love my brown-handled Clover ripper. I have another method of un-sewing -- on one side of fabric, I pick away enuf threads so that I have a "handle" to hold on to. Put your ripper in a stitch about an inch or so down the seam & rip out 1 stitch. Pull on the "handle" and the thread comes free. Turn fabric over and you will see a "handle", put your ripper in a stitch about an inch or so down the seam & rip out 1 stitch. Pull on the "handle" and the thread comes free. Turn the fabric over.

Repeat until all stitches are removed. This way I don't have any tiny bits of thread to remove.

Sunnie said...

Pat,
Sounds like experience speaks when it comes to ripping!
Thanks for sharing your style.

I have an idea... said...

I use a single edge razor blade. Stretch the seam open with one hand, then slip the corner of the razor down the seam. Fast, super easy.