Monday, September 24, 2012

Ripping Out Stitches

Whether it is due to the wrong color thread, the wrong type of thread, the wrong stitch or incorrect stitches, we’ve all ripped out stitches.  The question is: just how do you rip out your stitches?

Are you one of those stitchers that does this?

When stitches are ripped out like this you will hear the thread scraping against the sides of the holes on the canvas.  Depending on the thread, it may be quite loud.  Now, stop and think:  if you can hear it, just what does that mean?

It means that the entire length of the thread is being excessively worn by the friction from the canvas holes.  Further, you are putting excessive pull on the stitch you made before the one you are pulling out, which will give you bad stitch tension.  Let me just say, that even if you don’t hear the scraping sound, and with some silks, you may not because some of them slide so easily, you are still placing excessive wear on that thread.

The worst part of this issue is that those stitchers will then rethread that pulled out thread into their needle and stitch with it.  The only thing I can say to this is: Don’t.

If you must pull out your stitches this way, cut the thread very short and pull the stitches out.  You should not reuse this thread ever.  If you cut it very short, the tug on the other stitches will be lessened because you are not pulling the thread a great length.  It is still not an ideal way to rip out stitches.

What should you do?  And can you ever reuse the thread from a bad stitch?

As I see it there are 3 options:
  1.  Never reuse thread you have pulled out.  This means take the stitch or stitches out, end off the thread and start a new thread.  This will ensure that there is never any thread wear from ripping out stitches.
  2. Unstitch the stitches, using the needle as a guide to unstitch.  This option will work if you have not caught any other threads on the back in the thread you are removing.  The probability that this is the case is small, but there are times that this technique will work.  I still would not reuse the thread if I unstitched a lot of stitches.  How many is a lot?  Probably not more than five, but that depends on the thread type, how far I’ve already stitched with that thread, etc.  Use your best judgement.  When in doubt: Don’t.
  3. Unthread the needle and turn the canvas over, pull the thread out from the back.  Turn the canvas over, pull the thread out from the front, and continue in this fashion until all the stitches are ripped out.  Again, how many stitches?  With this technique I’d say only two to three.

Really?  Is the thread worn that badly?

You really need to be the best judge of this yourself.  And just yesterday I caught myself using the third technique on a dozen stitches and then rethreaded the needle with that same thread.  I did stop myself and ended off the thread - it is a bad habit that requires diligence to break.

Can you see thread wear?  You may not see thread wear on the thread prior to stitching, but when it is placed next to stitches without wear, it will be obvious.  There may be less sheen on the stitches with thread wear, the stitches may look dirty if there is thread wear, there may be more fuzz and frizz on stitches with worn thread, worn thread may look thinner and it will be weaker.  It is the unfavorable comparison to surrounding stitches that is the most damaging issue when thread wear is apparent.

Let me assure you, your stitching will look better if you do not reuse thread from ripped out stitches.  It is as simple as that.

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