Removing Embroidery Stitches

I wanted a letter C in large form. Did two samples and then put the shirt in and it started in the center with a small C. I removed the shirt and proceeded to remove the small C ..took a couple of hours, but I did it. There has to be an easier way to remove embroidery stitches. That is my question. How do you remove embroidery stitches???

Yes, it is a pain in the neck to remove embroidery stitches, especially if you are trying not to dislodge the fabric in the hoop while doing so. There is a really handy little tool that I found at the Nancy’s Notions web site which you might like to try. It’s called Peggy’s Stitch Eraser and looks like an electric hair clipper, but it sure isn’t! This neat tool quickly and easily removes even dense stitches without damaging the fabric. It’s a little pricey, but in my opinion, well worth the investment, especially if you are as accident prone as I am!

For those who don’t make many mistakes :-) here’s some hints for removing unwanted stitches:

Clip the bobbin thread stitches, not the top thread. Use a really sharp seam ripper or a tiny pair of scissors with curved, very sharp blades. (Sharpness is needed so that you will not have to push hard or tug up resulting in accidentally stretching or dislodging the fabric in the hoop, but take care not to cut the fabric.)

Work one layer at a time. Clip the first layer of bobbin stitches and pull away the top thread, then cut the next layer (the underlay bobbin stitches) and pull away the top underlay stitches. After cutting the bobbin stitches you can lay the hoop on a hard, flat surface and drag your fingernail gently over the top threads to loosen, making them easier to remove.

Hope this helps for future mistakes!


22 Responses

  1. kathy
    kathy September 7, 2007 at 3:07 am |

    another tool that works after clipping some of the threads is a lint shaver. They were popular several yrs back to remove the lint from sweaters etc… They are reasonably priced at JoAnn’s and don’t damage fabric.

  2. gail smith
    gail smith September 7, 2007 at 5:52 am |

    Re Stitch Removal…another way to loosen the top of the design after you have cut away the bobbin thread is to use a bristle (nylon) brush or hard toothbrush to ruffle the top threads and then pull them out with a pair of tweezers. It works..I also have the stitch eraser but you MUST use it slowly and carefully.

  3. Susan Mahon
    Susan Mahon September 7, 2007 at 6:34 am |

    A friend gave me this idea for removing a bad design………use a disposable razor and ‘shave’ the thread from the back and front,they come off quite easy.

  4. Liz M
    Liz M September 7, 2007 at 6:54 am |

    “Peggy’s Stitch Eraser” A much cheaper item that works the same way is a mustache clipper. Much smaller than a hair clipper, it looks very much like the Stitch Eraser and works just the same.

  5. Margaret Bandy
    Margaret Bandy September 7, 2007 at 10:53 am |

    I always say I’m giving the design a haircut when (and often) I have had to cut the threads away on the back. A little smile helps. Also, try not to cut the stablilizer. If the stablilizer is cut or torn do you have any suggestions or can you, “patch” it with another piece?

  6. Maureen
    Maureen September 7, 2007 at 1:27 pm |

    Your note on removing stitches sounds good I’ll keep it in mind for future use and also keep my eyes open for the tool at Creative Sewing in Toronto in Oct.


  7. glenys
    glenys September 8, 2007 at 7:41 am |

    The best tool I have ever used it the Olfa Rotary cutter. It has a curved blade ( not round) that you lay flat against the back of the boo boo, and it will shave the bobbin thread right off. Then you just pull the from stitches off with tweezers. All you will see are little needle holes that you can press away with an iron an a bit of steam.
    If your careful, in most cases you wont even nick the stabilizer. I have never damaged a project yet, since I discovered this fantastic little tool. Its not too expensive either. Most of the stores that sell Olfa products carry it.
    I have used all the other things like mustach trimmers, but they take a lifetime to remove the stitches. this Olfa tool, takes minutes.

  8. Phyllis
    Phyllis September 11, 2007 at 10:54 am |

    Another good way to remove stitching from embroidery is to cut the back with a sharp razorblade knife (very shallow) and then using tape on the front of the stitches to remove large sections at a time.

  9. Nancy Schwindenhammer
    Nancy Schwindenhammer September 12, 2007 at 10:46 am |

    could glenys show a picture of the rotary blade she is talking about. I would like to try it.

  10. Nikki Adams
    Nikki Adams October 3, 2007 at 11:24 am |

    Peggys Stitch Eraser didn’t work that well for me until I discovered that placing the the project, right side down, on a “reflector” light bulb that has a gentle curve to it (unlike a regular light bulb) gives it the hard surface it needs to work on. I have also used the razor upside down and it works better. You still have to pick out the top stitches with tweezers but it works very well this way.

  11. Larry Nardi
    Larry Nardi April 16, 2008 at 8:37 am |

    This comment is for Evy.

    Evy the link you left for the rotary cutter to remove stitches has several rotary cutters on the page. Could you leave a specific link of the cutter that works best.

    Larry Nardi
    King’s Embroidery

  12. glenys
    glenys April 21, 2008 at 4:32 pm |

    I havent been on the computer for a while, so didnt see the request for more info on the OLFA rotary cutter until now. I cant send a picture, but
    it’s called the Rotary POINT cutter. The blade is curved, but is only 1/3 of a circle instead of the full circle. It looks like an exacto knife, except the blade has a nice round curve, perfect for shaving off the bobbin threads on the botched project.

  13. canta
    canta August 19, 2008 at 5:32 am |

    Thanks for articles, I have searched blog same this since long time

  14. Gigi
    Gigi April 14, 2009 at 1:54 pm |

    I took Liz M.’s advice along with Nancy S.’s tip….

    A disposable razor blade and the use of tape removed my embroidery! It took some time and was a tad-bit messy but it did the job.

    Thanks for the tip(s)!

  15. beneaththewillowdesigns
    beneaththewillowdesigns May 7, 2009 at 8:42 am |

    THANK YOU THANK YOU! I embroidered a hooded jacket for a client, and she DID NOT like the last word layout. Not my fault, she approved the proof… So I’m scrambling looking for a solution. If I knew where the jacket came from, I’d just buy her a new one and call it good at this point.
    All for $15! Not making a dime on this one.
    Will try these tools and tips. You might have saved the day! LORA

  16. Cathy
    Cathy January 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm |

    found this. I didn’t realize you went back and forth, side to side… I thought you shaved off the back like a man shaves a beard. You turn the shaver upside down, and use your palm or a slightly convex surface like the reflective light bulb someone mentioned, and go side to side, now like a lawn mower. That’s what is probably confusing people. This video demonstrates how to use these tools. Hope it helps someone, Cath

  17. Anthony
    Anthony May 4, 2014 at 6:12 am |

    Being a guy and not much of a stitcher I have to say after reading several suggestions I tried the disposable razor trick and it worked great a little time consuming and messy but gave new life to several old but never worn work shirts. Thanks for the suggestion

  18. Ovi
    Ovi February 6, 2015 at 5:52 am |

    The lighter is the most efficient!

  19. Kim Maddox
    Kim Maddox March 26, 2015 at 1:43 pm |

    I embroidered a market tote with a circle font and didn’t like it so I quickly removed it and replaced with an intertwine font. My problem is I can see some of the stitch marks from the circle font. Any tips on removing those stitch marks or am I just stuck with them? Thanks for any advice Kim

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