Sewing tip: Unpicking

If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know by now that unpicking is not my favourite part of the sewing process. When you don’t like unpicking you basically have two options:

  1. Don’t unpick and accept sloppy seams as your sewing signature.
  2. Unpick when necessary.

I aim to have perfectly matched seams and great looking topstitching in my garments and as a consequence I have to accept that:

sewing + perfection = unpicking

Over time I’ve learned to unpick quickly and selectively and this helps to make unpicking less of a chore.

I’ve found that the fastest way to unpick a seam is to rip every 5th or so stitch on one side of the seam (don’t count, you want to do this quickly, if it is the 4th or the 6th stitch you’ll also be fine!). In the places where you backstitched you’ll want to unpick more stitches. After you’ve done this for the entire seam, you can then turn to the other side of the seam and place your seam ripper under the thread. You should be able to pull out the whole thread on this side of the seam in one go. All that is left now is to remove the smaller pieces of thread on the side you unpicked first and you are ready to redo the seam.

quickly unpick a seam

If I’ve sewn a seam and there is just a tiny little pucker somewhere while the rest of the seam is absolutely perfect I am not going to unpick the whole seam. I’ll only do a couple of centimetres around the pucker so that I can smooth that area out and resew it. I’ll backstitch and partially overlap the original seam. I used to feel that this was a bit like cheating, but I’ve seen several Craftsy instructors use this technique as well so I refuse to feel guilty about it. Selective unpicking will save you a lot of time and a lot of frustration.

selective unpicking

Do you have any other tips that make unpicking more enjoyable?