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!


Author: Kim

Kim is reponsible for our newsletters and daily advertising and marketing programs. She co-ordinates all sales and specials between our designers and the Website Display department.

22 thoughts on “Removing Embroidery Stitches”

  1. 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. 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. 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. “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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Here’s a “follow-up” query on this same subject….

    Hi Evy,

    I read your recommendation for the Peggy’s Stitch Remover. I have the stitch remover and have had absolutely no luck with it. The problem I have is that it doesn’t cut the bobbin threads so I can pull the top stitches out from the top. All it does is go over the stitches from the back side. I’ve tried holding it at the angle it suggests but I still can’t get it to work. It’s a very pricey little tool not for it to work. If I could be successful with using it, I’m sure friends of mine would invest in it as well but I can’t recommend it at this point. Any suggestions??

    I would love to be able to use it because I think it’s a great idea for us folks that tend to make mistakes…..

    Any help would greatly be appreciated.

  10. And Evy’s reply…….

    Peggy’s Stitch Eraser is not for the faint of heart 🙂 In order to work properly, you must press the blades into the bobbin threads on the back of the embroidery, taking care not to press them into the fabric. Just resting the blades against the threads won’t do the trick. Be brave! If you do cut a hole, it usually can be patched and once the embroidery is replaced, no one will be the wiser!

    My Babylock dealer, Ed from Margiottas in Charleston, South Carolina, tells me that the stitch eraser works best on well stabilized fabric. Cut-away stabilizer is sturdier than tear-away and you will have less chance of cutting into the fabric when your project has been stabilized with that. He also recommends that you support the right side of the design with your hand, thumb, or some other firm object in the area of the blades when using them. He uses the Stitch Eraser upside down, blades pointing directly into the bobbin stitches. (I think that having good light and perhaps a magnifying glass would definitely help!) Some of the stabilizer, or even all of the stabilizer, may be chewed away along with the bobbin thread. That area must be patched with additional stabilizer before embroidering again. Once the bobbin stitches are ground away, the top threads can be pulled loose by dragging your fingernail gently over them. So basically, keep at it until the bobbin thread is gone, stopping to clean the blades and remove the fuzz from the back of the hoop every so often, then pull or brush away the top threads. Corners and end stitches will still have to be picked out with a seam ripper or needle. I just spoke to Ed today and he had just removed a very large, dense design for a customer…it took him 10 minutes! I guess he’s a pro with that thing 🙂 I’m sure with a bit of practice, you can be too.

    Check out this link for more information:

    I hope this helps!


  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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. 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


    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. 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. 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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