Sunday, April 12, 2009

How to REALLY QUICK unpick...

I've taught sewing to a lot of people - beginners through to advanced level. One thing I've noticed is that the same amount of unpicking is done at any level... but only beginners feel bad about having to do it.

The more experienced one is with a sewing machine, the more accepting one is of the need to sometimes unpick and re-do. Practise making perfect (and it's not because we practise for the fun of it!)... experienced sewers are FASTER at unpicking.

Here is one trick I've discovered that a lot of people DON'T know....

1. Get a good seam ripper - fine-point and super-sharp. I think I may have mentioned that I'm in love with my Clover Seam Rippers...

2. Unpick any backtacking/backstitching or multiple rows of stitching with care - don't rip through them as shown below. Cut through a few of the individual stitches and pull the threads out.

3. On a straight seam - ONLY IF YOU HAVE A GOOD SEAM RIPPER - you can gently slice through the stitches as shown below. The longer spike on the seam ripper goes to the top and the little ball on the underside. You shouldn't need to use any force to cut the stitches.

BEWARE cheap or blunt seam rippers! If you don't immediately slice through the stitches then DON'T FORCE IT!!! You can slip and slice through your fabric!

So.... what do you do with all the little bits of thread left in the fabric? Pick them out with your fingers...?

4. No... get a lint roller to do the work for you! (Sticky tape will also work, but is slower). I'm a big fan of the $1.95 lint roller from Ikea, or you can buy similar things in most sewing shops and even supermarkets.

Roll it on the right side of fabric...

5. ...and on the wrong side of fabric.

6. Then pull out any stray bits of thread left behind. There won't be many.

Super-duper quick, and relatively painless ...but don't use any old unpicker or there'll be tears!

26 comments:

Jacqui said...

You know, I never thought of using a lint roller for those annoying little bits of thread, despite being oh so very experienced with unripping :) A friend gave me this seam ripper set for Xmas http://www.leevalley.com/gifts/page.aspx?c=3&p=58722&cat=4,104,53218 It takes a slightly different technique to use and perhaps isn't quite as versatile as the simple seam ripper, but for bit jobs it's certainly faster and oh boy is it sharp!

Jacqui said...

Um that should be "but for big jobs" not "bit" jobs, because bit jobs are what it's not so great for :P

Handmade said...

Go the clever Clover!

Aunt LoLo said...

That is BRILLIANT to use the sticky lint roller! I'll have to move one of my lint rollers to my craft room now...and I think I need a new seam ripper. Mine's 15 years old. ;-)

~Aunt LoLo
www.lolo-craft.blogspot.com

Margaret said...

I love my lint roller. I especially like the cat/dog one that you get from the pet shops. The stickiness of them lasts a bit longer than your $2 spotlight or IKEA one.

ferne said...

I love this post! Everyone does it and no one wants to talk about it, but you have some really helpful tips here. Thanks!

petapledger said...

Great advice about the lint roller, I will try it next time I have to unpick a seam.

Louise said...

My unpicker and I are great friends although I think I'm up for a new fancy Clover one. And I was just looking at the lint thingys yesterday - gotta get one now!!

Kirrily said...

So Nikki, did you deliberably sew and unpick this just for the benefit of your blog readers??

I learnt the lint roller trick a few months ago - soooo simple but so clever! One of those - why didn't I think of that kind of ideas...

I love my clover seam ripper too!

Skulleigh said...

Excellent tip! I never thought about using a lint roller! And I'll have to try a clover stitch ripper - the two I have are dull I think. :(

ellie said...

A lint roller - ingenious! Will make life so much easier, seeing as how some of my sewing is actually sewn in the knowledge that it'll be quick-unpicked (cushions and zips and things).
I know what you mean about being more experienced with the unpicker makes you quicker. I think when I finally let-go of the thought that it was a failure if I had to unpick, that it was suddenly much easier and less stressful. I now use those few quick moments to lean back in my chair and stretch my back the other way (rather than slumped over the machine!).

Enjoy your day, E xx

Sandra @ Pepperberry and Co. said...

Hi Nikki!

I don't know if you remember me- my name is Sandra, and I was one person in one of your zillion classes at the Melbourne Stitches and Craft Show :-) You taught me how to put in a zip!!

Anyway, I've just come across your blog and I love it. I've been here before and didn't even realise it was you! Thanks for the fantastic tip about unpicking- funnily enough, I've only just started sewing and am learning that it's a talent in itself. There are definitely right and wrong ways of going about it!

As a newbie sewer, I've been hunting for a tutorial like this for ages so this is perfect. I'm also looking for some helpful hints when it comes to cutting fabric- any ideas? And who knew it could go so wrong? :-)

Thanks!

P.S. I hope you don't mind if I pop you on my blogroll. xx

Carolina said...

Love LOVE love this blog, i've added your button to my blog also and i'll be here often! (I had bought from you in the past but didnt know about the blog LOL!)Thanks!

casserole said...

Great advice! Your tip for using a lint roller is genius!!
I posted a link to your article on Craft Gossip Sewing Blog:
http://sewing.craftgossip.com/seam-ripping-made-easier/2009/04/13/
--Anne

Katherine said...

Great tricks to make my least pleasant task in sewing a bit less distasteful.

Kirsty said...

Although my "quick unpick" isn't clover it is good quality & I'm also in love.

This is a great how to Nikki.

Sherrin said...

Great how to. I'm impressed with the lint roller idea- I hadn't thought of this... actually I don't even own one... but I'm sold now! I just bought a 'step up' from my old quick unpick, and the difference is amazing. I think I'll give the clover one a go next time tho. (is there anything this company can't do... I am still in awe of their bias tape maker!) :o)

Jolene - typepad/tropicalsoup said...

Nikki, I consider myself a pretty experienced crafter, with a phd in unpicking...but thank you thank you thank you!!!! for the tip about using the lint roller - pure genius!
And thanks also for a gorgeous blog...such lovely eye candy!

méri said...

Fabulous idea, Nikki! Thank you!

Hoping you have had a good Easter and your little girl found lots of chocolate eggs and bunnies
(i always wonder about the relation eggs/bunnies...)

Nancy K said...

A sticky lint roller, brilliant! I hate the threads left from ripping, and yes I have a Clover.

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

Great idea on the lint roller! I've always used sticky tape until now, oh and left threads all around the place too.....

carmel said...

Lint roller! Brilliant-I've been sewing for years and never thought of it. Thank you

Sew-Whats-New.com said...

I was so glad to see so mucch emphasis on a *sharp* seam ripper!!! Kudos!!!

Sophia said...

I use my tweezers to pick up any bits of thread remaining on or in the fabric! I can't do it otherwise, I swear!

LONNIE said...

I LOVE THE LINT ROLLER IDEA AND WILL HAVE TO FIND MY BOYFRIENDS AND MOVE IT TO THE SEWIG ROOM! RECENTLY I WAS AT THE PIQS IN SANTA CLARA, CA AND THEY WERE SELLING SEAM RIPPERS WITH RUBBER HANDLES. ABOUT 7 INCHES LONG. SHE DEMONSTRATED HOW TO USE THE OTHER END TO SORT OF ERASE THE THREADS. JUST THAT EASY. I ALREADY HAD THE RIPPER BUT NEVER THOUGHT TO USE THE OTHER END. WORKS GREAT!

Lisa {MoneyHipMamas.com} said...

Very helpful. Thank you!!