How to remove a serged seam

I’ve been sewing for over 50 years (gasp!) and I have ripped out more, I dare say, than my fair share of sewn seams. Particularly vexing to sewists of all ages is the thought of ripping out a seam made with a serger. One of the ways I have seen taught many times is to use the seam ripper to cut the threads along the edge of the seam and then pull the needle threads…however that leaves thousands of tiny threads to coax from the fabric and dispose of. I’m going to show you how to remove a serged seam – a better way!

Here is the seam that needs to come out. You can see that there are two “straight stitch” lines toward the bottom of the seam and the looper threads wrapping over the edge

The trick is to start by pulling out the thread second from the bottom (let’s call it the middle thread). Pick up that thread with your seam ripper or other small pointed thing that will sneak under that thread. That’s the only thing you will need your seam ripper for!

Pull on the middle thread until that entire row is out. It will be easy to pull – that middle thread.

Here’s the middle thread out – you can see the needle holes still in the seam

Once that thread is pulled out, do the same with the first thread – that’s the one on the bottom. If you try to do this bottom thread first, it will not go well for you. You have been warned!

Here’s the bottom thread out

Now comes the fun part! You can grab anywhere along the looper thread edge and it comes out faster than a greased zipper! Wheeee…..

Here’s the seam all un-serged, with no damage to the cloth edge (in this case bamboo), no small thread bits to pick off your clothes, or out of the seam. Best of all, no angst for me! Now, that’s how to remove a serged seam! You’re welcome!

24 replies
  1. Lyndle
    Lyndle says:

    I knew there was a trick – but I tried to start with the bottom straight stitch and it did not go well, as you say. I needed to know this two hours ago… but I might remember for next time and I'll know where to come! Thank you!

  2. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    This is a nifty tip, and so fun to pull out those looper stitches at the end!
    On another note, I am stopping by to say that I finally got around to sewing your ladies underwear pattern, the hip hugger style, and I am so ecstatically pleased with the result. They are incredibly comfortable, cover my bum (I hate 'cheeky panties'), and fit like a glove. My first pair is all recycled – an old Nike top and lace cut off another garment, but now it's time to cut into the good stuff to make many more pairs. Thanks for the great pattern, Beverly!

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    That's exactly what I do! Now, do you have a super secret way of ripping out a coverstitch hem? I haven't figured that one out yet….grrrrr 🙂

  4. Sewcat
    Sewcat says:

    I have used this method on both 3 and 4 thread serged seams and it works fine. But you really need to make sure you pick up the needle thread. I don't think it is machine related since I have used both Pfaff and Elna sergers


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