“You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” - Jack London
Most people agree that arts and crafts make them feel better.
So why not give them a go?
Embroidery is a great way to relax and customise clothes and objects. While there are several embroidery techniques, everyone makes mistakes. Before you get started, keep in mind that no mistake is irreversible. In this article, we’re going through how you can remove embroidery.
Why Would You Have to Remove Embroidery?
You need to learn how to embroider step-by-step. Start by getting the right materials and taking lessons or following tutorials. Stem stitch, chain stitch, putting fabric on an embroidery hoop, buying the right thread, etc. There’s a lot to learn and do before you can start making pretty patterns and motifs with a needle and thread.
With so much to concentrate on, you'll inevitably make a mistake. You might get a cross-stitch or other embroidery stitch wrong. If you notice it immediately, it’s quite easy to fix your mistake. However, sometimes you might get the whole thing wrong. You might be embroidering a butterfly on an item of clothing but use the wrong colours.
It’s also important that you know the techniques for correcting your mistakes. That said, mistakes aren’t the only reason you might want to remove embroidery.
You might buy or inherit garments that have embroidery on them that you don’t like, for example. Knowing how to remove embroidery is a great way to give clothing a second life, especially if you wouldn’t have worn them on account of the embroidery.
Removing hand embroidery is also useful for reusing fabric that you’ve already used for another embroider. If you’re practising how to embroider, you mightn’t want to keep the embroidery you’ve just done. In this case, you can remove the embroidery and reuse the fabric to keep practising.
Of course, if your fabric was initially a stamped embroidery pattern the original pattern will still be on the fabric you're using. Ideally, if you're planning on using your fabric again for other embroidery projects, you should work from embroidery patterns on a separate piece of paper.
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Tools for Removing Embroidery
Before we learn about all the different ways to remove embroidery, you need to learn about what you’ll need.
The first thing you’ll want to get is a stitch eraser. This is a tool that allows you to quickly remove embroidery thread. It’s also used for sewing, too. You can pick them up for next to nothing so don’t spend a fortune on them. They’re often found in embroidery and sewing kits. These kits are a great idea if you don’t have any of the equipment you need for removing embroidery.
You’ll also need sewing or embroidery scissors. These are smaller than paper scissors and are designed with cutting thread in mind. You can also get them for a few quid. Again, these are available in haberdasheries and arts and crafts shops. These places are great for anyone interested in knitting, patchwork, sewing, crochet, cross-stitch, and embroidery.
A razor is also incredibly useful when it comes to removing embroidery. That’s right! A disposable single-blade razor is useful for cutting thread. You want one that doesn’t have moisturiser on it as you don’t want this on your threads. Electric trimmers and special stitch erasers are also useful but rather expensive.
The last thing you’ll need is patience as removing embroidery can take a long time.
Removing Embroidered Text
Removing embroidered text is much quicker than a full embroidery unless the letters are thick and include a lot of stitches. To start removing embroidered text, turn the embroidery over and quickly pass the stitch erased under the threads making sure not to take the fabric with it. You don’t want to pierce or cut the fabric.
Pull the stitch eraser to break the threads. Take your time! Do it bit by bit.
You can also use a pair of sewing scissors to cut the threads. In any case, don’t try and remove a whole letter in one go. Start by cutting one side and then the other.
Once you’ve cut the threads, turn the embroidery over and start removing the threads with the stitch eraser. You can also use embroidery needles to do this.
You can also remove the last threads by hand to ensure that the fabric isn’t damaged.
If you just need to remove a couple of embroidery stitches, you just need to cut the thread and you’re done in a few seconds.
Removing an Entire Embroidery
Removing an entire embroidery takes time and patience.
Just like with removing embroidered text, you’ll need to turn the embroidery over. Instead of using your scissors or stitch remover, you can use the razor as this is a quicker way to do it. Cutting the threads with a pair of scissors can take a lot of time.
Shave the entire reverse of the embroidery. You should do this bit by bit to ensure that you’ve cut all the threads. Then, you can use the stitch eraser on the threads. This will take time, though. You need to scratch each part of the embroidery with the stitch eraser as they don’t always come away easily. Furthermore, you need to repeat this step on every part of the embroidery. Some embroiderers use tape or adhesive ribbon to trap the threads as if they were waxing. You’ll need a strong adhesive tape to do this.
It doesn't matter whether it's a backstitch, French knot, satin stitch, running stitch, herringbone stitch, etc., this technique works on them all.
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When Should You Remove Embroidery and what are the Results Like?
You can’t always remove embroidery as a result of the fabric it’s embroidered onto. You can damage the fabric if you don’t do it right. If you want to reuse the fabric, you’ll need to ensure that it hasn’t been deformed in the process.
It’s not recommended that you remove embroidery from stretch fabric. This is especially true if you’re not going to embroider over the same part of the fabric. After all, you can always cover up a hole by embroidering over the top of it. If not, your fabric isn’t going to look new.
If you carefully and patiently remove the embroidery, the fabric will be fine and you’ll be able to use it again.
To make sure you don’t damage the fabric, try removing a small part of the embroidery at first. You’ll see after removing a few stitches whether or not the fabric will survive. If this is the case, you can easily fix the couple of stitches that you removed.
Discover how to frame your embroidery.
Hiding the Embroidery
If you’ve removed the embroidery and the fabric isn’t in great condition, you can always embroider over the top of it.
If you can’t remove the embroidery at all, why not consider hiding the embroidery you want to remove?
Pearls, spangles, ribbons, or a bit of lace can hide any embroidery you don’t like the look of. You can also decorate a cushion, dress, or curtains with things like this. Knit a case, create new embroidery, etc. Be creative and develop your skills as an embroiderer.
If you need more help with embroidery or cross-stitch, get help from one of the many talented private tutors on Superprof. There are three main types of tutorial available and, like with tutors, each comes with its pros and cons.
Face-to-face tutorials are great for getting bespoke and tailored tuition as you're the only student in the class. Furthermore, your tutor will be spending a lot of time outside of the lessons preparing lessons for you. They're both the most costly and the most cost-effective as every minute of a session is spent helping you learn.
Online tutorials are similar but your tutor won't be there in the room with you. While these are usually better for academic subjects, if you've got a good webcam, microphone, and internet connection, there's no reason a talented embroider couldn't help you learn remotely. Additionally, with no travel costs and the ability to schedule more sewing classes each week, online private tutors tend to cheaper than face-to-face tutorials.
Finally, group tutorials are good for those on a budget as the cost of the tutor's time and experience will be shared amongst all the students in attendance. While you won't get as much one-on-one time with your tutor, you will pay less per student per hour.