Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Confession

Today we have a guest question from Cindy, of Learn2SewFlorida. Apparently, some of her new students get discouraged when they have to use a seam ripper on a project. She thinks that their expectations might be a little bit unrealistic, but would like to hear from all of you - how often do you have to use your seam ripper? Does it come out for all of your projects? most of them? some of them? How often are you able to complete a garment without using a seam ripper a single time? (Maybe you could add in how long you've been sewing, as I know that some of you are very experienced!)

I'm certainly willing to confess that I use my seam ripper at least once on almost every project, and I've been sewing for about 7 years.

Now, it's not that my sewing hasn't gotten any better in all that time. I have gotten a lot better!

The thing is, my standards have also gotten a lot tougher! So, I rarely make the huge mistakes that I used to have to rip out 7 years ago, but now I am much more likely to want to re-do a step that, 7 years ago, I would have thought was perfect. :)

How about you? What would you tell Cindy's students?


lindaturske said...

I definitely use my seam ripper for every project.... sometimes to remove a stitch or two and sometimes I tear out an entire seam. Depends on the need/goof. I do not get "perfection" obsessed but sometime you just have to rip things out. I have a bin that sits behind my row of machines and currently there are 3 seasms rippers waiting for some action. I have two more tucked away over by my coverstitch machine as well.


Kim said...

Every project, oh definitely. As my sewing skills have evolved, I use the seam ripper more for getting things perfect (or more acceptable, anyway) than for huge flubs (like sewing a right side to a wrong side, etc.) I am just thankful that most fabric is forgiving enough to allow us to correct mistakes!

I do have to confess that I sometimes do impatient "stick the seam ripper between the fabrics and zip through the thread" technique rather than the proper "pick out individual stitches then gently pull apart the seam" method.

Claire S. said...

Yikes, it's handy at all times - one near each machine ! I started sewing again about 2 years ago and have been working on improving my skills. They're not yet what they could be, so the seam ripper is in use on just about every project.

Tee said...

I use my seam ripper at least twice on each project!!!! and the funniest thing is I loose my seam ripper at least twice a day! LOL

I sometimes cheat and rip out the wrong way too!

Anonymous said...

My seam ripper is my friend. ;)

I have been sewing for more than 40 years and I did start very young. :) I have a seam ripper near every sewing machine, and the ironing board, and several in reserve for when one disappears. I use them liberally as needed to fix little oops, major 'where was my head when I was doing this?' oops, to hold things in place under the presser foot when I can't find the stiletto, to pull the thread ends to the back side so they can be knotted, and probably lots more that I can't think of at the moment.

I have probably at some time completed a project without using a seam ripper, but I haven't taken notice of it. It is such a helpful tool I just reach for it when I need it.

Lois K

Lisa Laree said...

I have laughed before that I almost *never* use a seam ripper!

Then I 'splain.

Mostly I unpick my boo-boos with a sturdy straight pin. The straight pin forces me to remove one stitch at a time and helps keep me from impatience-induced damage from a sharp cutting too.

Now, if you were to ask how often I must frog-stitch ('rip it! rip it!) something, well, that would be usually at least once on all but the simplest projects. And I've been sewing (gulp) 40 years.

CarlaF-in Atlanta said...

I use my seam ripper for every project. I have a couple of seam rippers because I "misplace" one in my sewing area constantly. To me, the seam ripper is just like the backspace or delete key on a keyboard. I type very well but I still make mistakes. Using the delete key doesn't make me a bad typist neither does using the seam ripper with every project make me a bad sewer.

AmeliaSews said...

I agree wholeheartedly with everyone's comments - that a seam ripper is a tool and a very useful one at that.
I've been sewing at least 15 years and I always have one (or two or three..) handy.

I can say that I use mine more for refinements now, than for big mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes and it is a fast and easy way to make things better.

Faye Lewis said...

MMMMMMMMMMMM well I sewed from 8th grade into my late 30's, then I didn't sew for 13 years, and now I've been back at it for 3 years and I'll bet I use the ripper at least once on EVERY project. My seam ripper is also my friend. I have many of them, but only one favorite. Sometimes when I can't find it I almost panic.

goodworks1 said...

Well, of course, we all use something to rip out the bad stuff.... But I admit I am having a very bad emotional reaction to the type of seam ripper you show in your photo--they are SO DULL! Literally.

I now only buy the kind with the surgical-style blades - you can buy the blades plain, but then you have to sandwich them between popsicle sticks or something. Or you can buy the ones with the blue plastic handles. I must have at least 4 of them, in various places in my house. And replacement blades in the sewing room.

And you know, it seems that I only need to rip out seams when I can't be bothered to read the instructions. Or when I didn't mark the fabric correctly before removing the pattern piece. In other words, when I'm trying to save time...

KID, MD said...

I cannot imagine sewing without a seam ripper! I use it multiple times for every project and I have been sewing since I was a child - so around 25 (ulp!) years. Your students are in good company!

marysews said...

It has been a few years since I realized that the need for the seam ripper does not signify absolute failure. I know now that sometimes you have to back up to take a different path.

Now I'm just as likely to use a seam ripper to remove tags from the back neck area of thrift-store-bought clothes.

Summerset said...

I'm pretty OCD about things being just right, so I do rip stuff out more often than I probably should. I've been sewing on a machine for over 25 years and I just think I'm getting pickier about stuff the more I sew.

MouseAnony said...

A seam ripper is a girl's best friend! I definitely use it at least once for every single project to remove some little goof or boo-boo.

Sew-Ann said...

I use it all the time and every time. I am bound to mess up or I may want to just do something better.

I think Cindy should ingrain into her students that seam ripper is a sewist's friend and the repeated use of it doesn't signify that you suck. Over time you will use it less but you will always need and should have it by your side.

Relishedartistry said...

I used to teach costume construction at a university. Using a seam ripper is synonymous with learning how to develop attention to detail. Most young folk today to not need to exercise the finite control and manipulation, eye for accuracy, and taste for precision that is required by sewing. Getting upset when using a seam ripper is the sign that they are nurturing a deeper understanding of true quality. It's frustrating to spend time on things nowadays--their need for instant gratification is not fulfilled by sewing, and the time it takes to develop skill contradicts the sense of "instant mastery" instilled in them by their culture.

If it was up to me, sewing (or some such equally demanding craft/art) would be required learning for all students. It's sad to see that it has disappeared from curriculums everywhere... :(

Rose said...

Over the past few years, I have learned that the ability to deal with mistakes is more important than getting it right the first time. Dealing with mistakes can mean removing the stitches and redoing the seam, or it can mean using the error as an opportunity to find a creative solution. It's my mistake and I should own up to it and fix it. Seam rippers are great--used carefully, they can be the road to a second chance.

That said, I use my seam ripper several times on each sewing project, most often to redo seams so that the garment's fit is improved. I use a lint roller to collect the little threads.

Rose in SV

Zep said...

I want to thank everyone for telling my students how many times they use a ripper while sewing. This is going to help so many people.

Some people new to the art don't realize no matter how good you my be there are still things that happen in a project. We are very lucky in our art that we have the option to do a redo. I hear many sighs during class when I hand them the seam ripper. Sometimes I let them decide if it's acceptable to them it's ok with me because I'm trying to teach them technique. Some mistakes go along with perfection levels. I want them to learn technique first then work on their perfection. Now, if two right sides aren't together - they have no choice but to rip.

Again, a big THANK YOU for giving me some feed back to pass along to my students. It's going to help them tremendously in learning. And thanks Gwen for asking the question for me.

Make your moments "sew" much fun!

Becky said...

Well, I know I'm a bit late on this one, but I'll go ahead and jump in anyway. The seam ripper is your friend. Loooooove the seam ripper. Seriously.... I've been sewing since I was about 7 (which makes it about 21 years now...scary) and I use it on almost every project I do at least once. More often than not now, it's for things like I need to tweak the fit so I have to rip out the old seam section once I make the new one, or (especially on things like zippers) a little bit of the fabric gets caught in the seam in the wrong place and I need to fix that. Though I'll admit that sometimes I do stuff like sew the wrong seam in the wrong place, especially now that I'm getting into making the Burda magazine patterns. (The shapes are often much different than I'm used to dealing with.) I will say, though, I'm more likely to make seam-ripper mistakes when I'm trying to rush through something, so I use it a lot less when I'm taking my time and really thinking things through!

When I do my clothing reconstructions, a lot of times I'll start with seam-ripping the original garment apart, at least partially. (Oddly, when in that mode, deconstruction is kind of therapeutic.)

And of course the seam ripper is the sewing notion I lose the most!! My mom is threatening to just buy me a whole bunch of them for Christmas because I lose them so often.

Beth said...

The seam ripper is the same as an eraser for writing or the delete key on a keyboard: you use to correct a mistake, or if you followed the directions and just don't like it, you can start over! I spent a couple of days with my seam rippers and a quilt I am working on for my son and I still love the thing!

Sabine42 said...

I have been sewing for at least 20 years, and at least half my work is professional for alterations, costuming, etc. And I use them ALL THE TIME. Whether to get something "just right," a late-night sewing oops, to alter an existing piece, or just because the machine snagged the thread... they are constantly helpful and never a sign of inadequacy.

Anonymous said...

I'm like Somerset and am OCD about my sewing and use it more then necessary. I've sewn off and on for 20 years, although I never went without a sewing machine, I didn't sew for about half of them in total.

That said, about 1 in 5 garments I won't use it to correct a mistake, and this is for something a)I've made repeatedly before b)I can make it with my eyes closed and c)The stars align, God smiles and it was meant to be.

I use my seam ripper to cut my buttonholes (insert from one side, up to the middle and rip. Repeat. I get better control of the tear), I use it to pick the threads from fabric to straighten the grain, I use it to pull my bobbin thread to the back when I thread (and yes, I probably should use an awl or something, but I'm too lazy to reach the 4 inches into the drawer for it).

When I do teach kids to sew, the very first thing I do before we really get into anything is hang a garment I'm making and grab all my seam rippers (I have about 7 of them) lay them out in a line and say "This is your new best friend. Be nice to it. This dress loves these. These are called seam rippers and without it..." and I list the mistakes I've made on the garment. Which sounds really dry on paper, but I do it in a funny way (everything I do is funny) to let them know, hey, get used to ripping. It's going to happen for years and years and years no matter how well you sew, or for how long.