How to Remove Machine Embroidery

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Remove machine embroidery to replace or fix an embroidered design.
Remove machine embroidery to replace or fix an embroidered design. (Image: batist handkerchiefs with embroideries image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com)

Machine embroidery makes embellishing clothing, accessories and home linens easier and faster than hand embroidery. From monograms to cartoon characters, the designs available are unlimited. But sometimes a machine embroidery project may not give the desired results. Times like this when perhaps the design is off center or perhaps the fabric and thread colors do not match well, you are able to remove the machine embroidery. This method will not harm the embroidered item, letting you redo your work without any signs of your mistakes.

Things You'll Need

  • Seam ripper
  • Tweezers
  • Adhesive tape

Turn the fabric right-side down to expose the backside of the embroidery.

Hold the embroidered section in one hand and the seam ripper with the other hand. Remember the seam ripper’s blade is very sharp; therefore, work should be done patiently to avoid cutting the fabric or yourself.

Gently slide the seam ripper’s curved blade tip under the satin stitched area and push the blade against the threads until they are cut. Work in small sections and take your time while letting the section you are working drape over a finger or two. This will help expose the embroidery, making the work easier and less likely to cut into the fabric.

Remove the cut threads from the fabric with tweezers, then continue to the next section until all the stitches are removed.

Work the seam ripper along the remaining embroidered design. These areas include running stitches that have fewer threads in them and span thinly across the machine embroidery.

Take a piece of tape and tap the sticky side over the fabric. This picks up fray threads clinging to the fabric.

Rub your finger nail over the thread holes to help them disappear. Washing the fabric will also remove the tiny holes.

Tips & Warnings

  • An electric stitch remover can be also be used. This tool is similar to a beard trimmer but the blades are designed to cut threads by gliding along the fabric surface.
  • Be aware that if you have laundered the garment several times the fabric hidden behind the machine embroidery will not be worn-looking as the rest may be.

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