Tag Archives: seam ripper

Tu-Na Quilts: My Mama Always Says…

“If you don’t want to rip, you shouldn’t be sewing.”

Over the last couple of years, my mom and I’ve spent a lot of time quilting together. According to my husband, it seems like that’s all I’ve been doing. However, I know years from now when I look back on our time together I will say it wasn’t enough.


We are working on Sew Fresh Quilt’s Modernitional Bear Paw Quilt together. Mom contributed some fabrics.


During these quilting sessions, I write down mom’s words of quilting wisdom. My plan is to share these bits of wisdom with you from time to time in a series that I’ll call “My Mama Always Says.. I hope you will find them interesting and helpful, too.


Welcome to

My Mama Always Says..:

Where years of experience and bits of quilting wisdom guide me on my quilting journey.



So just why would mom say that I shouldn’t be sewing if I don’t want to rip out my mistakes? I don’t know about you but I make a lot of sewing mistakes. Maybe it’s because I am a perfectionist or maybe it’s because I just want it to look nice. Then again it might be that I just want it to look right or maybe it’s because I am still learning. Nonetheless, I’ve come to the realization that nothing is always perfect. So I’ve begun to hold my seam or block at arm’s length. If I don’t notice that the seams don’t meet just right from that distance, then it’s good enough.


I caught this mistake before I went any further. Can you find it? Yes, that little triangle piece was the wrong color. It still required taking 3 seams partially apart.


For those times when it’s not good enough, I’ve found an easy and fast way to rip it apart.


Using my seam ripper, I carefully slide the pointy end under the stich to cut the thread. I continue to do this on the same side about every 6-8 stitches or so. I’ve sewn two seams using black and white threads and am ripping out both. 



Turning the piece around to the other side, I use my ripper to gently pull on a stitch. It will release and then I can pull the thread with my fingers. If it becomes stuck, I just wiggle it back and forth and it will release. This makes for a very fast way to unsew that wrong seam. Having a sharp seam ripper helps too. Yes, they do get dull.


If my stitches are very close together, I’ll use this method.


Opening the seam, I slide the pointy end of the ripper under a stitch or two to cut the threads. Then I gently tug on the fabric. It helps to keep one side taught with a finger as shown. This method takes a little longer but safely picks open that seam.


Recently, I showed our exchange daughter K. my latest sewing project and she pointed out a mistake right away.


I started this in the summer but, you know, life happened: quilt hops, trips, toothaches, and apples. So I am back sewing on it.


I had looked at these blocks many times and had never seen the mistake. So I sighed, picked up the seam ripper, and remembered my mom’s words of wisdom, “If you don’t want to rip, you shouldn’t be sewing.” Thanks mom. You are right, as usual.


Now it looks better. This is the after picture. The piece by the yellow arrow was turned wrong and needed to come out and be reset. It took several tries but, as you can see, I did get it back together again.


What I Learned Today:

  1. Ripping apart a seam by any other name—unsewing, unpicking—is still a pain in the backside.
  2. That old TV show, Father Knows Best, didn’t tell the whole story; Mother knows best, too.
  3. No one, including mom, ever said I had to be happy about ripping out those seams.
  4. I’d rather find the glaring error now before it’s been quilted and too late to do anything about it.
  5. There is no such thing as perfect; good enough can be just right, too.
  6. A set of fresh eyes (by that I mean someone else) helps in finding errors.

Question: Do you spend a lot of time ripping apart your mistakes or are you a “that’s good enough” type of sewer? What’s your “go to” method of ripping apart your mistakes?


Monday to:

Show & Tell Monday with Bambi

Em’s Scrapbag at When Life Falls to Pieces Make A Quilt for Move It Forward

Beth at Cooking Up Quilts for Main Crush Monday (button on sidebar).

Beth at Love Laugh Quilt for Monday Making (button on the sidebar).

Scraptastic Tuesday (button on sidebar).

Tuesday to:

Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl for Tips and Tutorials Tuesday (button on sidebar).

Wednesday to:

Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Be Social (button on sidebar).