How to Remove Embroidery by Hand

There are several reasons you would want to add an embroidery design to the fabric you are working on; it could be to sow on an organization’s logo or to announce the designer’s signature.

Often, we use embroidery to give our clothes an additional beauty, no matter how simple or complex the design is. 

Since you have to sew designs directly onto the fabric, what happens if you make a mistake and need to remove the embroidery? How do you go about it without ruining the fabric in the process? This article will answer these questions.

Types of Embroidery

Attempting to remove different types of embroidery similarly is a costly mistake.

To avoid destroying your fabric while trying to remove an embroidery, you must know how to identify the different types. This knowledge will influence the method you use in removing embroidery.

The two significant types of embroidery are hand embroidery and machine embroidery.

Hand Embroidery

Hand embroidery is simply the art of using colorful threads and beautiful beads to create distinct patterns on a piece of fabric without using a machine.

This embroidery is usually done with needles and is both tedious and time-consuming. However, it gives the sewer great flexibility in choosing stitch patterns.

How to Recognise Hand Embroidery

Turn the cloth inside out to observe the stitches better. You will usually find three distinctive signs of hand embroidery:

  • The carried threads are irregular and unstructured.
  • The stitches used are more varied and complex.
  • The threads used are softer and not tightly twisted.

Machine Embroidery

Machine embroidery involves the use of machines to create beautiful patterns on fabric. The machine can either be a sewing machine or an embroidery machine.

Machine embroidery is perfect for mass production as intricate patterns can be reproduced perfectly. However, it limits the number of stitches an embroiderer can use.

How to Recognise Machine Embroidery

There are three significant signs of machine embroidery. Turn the cloth inside out and check for the following:

  • Systematically carried thread. Threading is precise and regular.
  • Stitches are usually tightly twisted.
  • The stitches used are simple and limited. There is little variety.

How to Remove Hand Embroidery

Hand embroidery is tricky to remove because of the complex stitches used, but you can do this in the following steps:

Step One: Get the Right Materials 

You will need a seam ripper to rip off the stitches and an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric stable while you work.

Using a darning needle and a pair of tweezers will also help you to pull out stitch threads.

Step Two: Turn the Cloth Inside Out 

Always turn the cloth inside out before you attempt removing embroidery; this will minimize the chances of damaging the fabric.

Step Three: Cut Off the Stitches With Your Seam Ripper

Carefully place the seam ripper under the stitches and lift upwards to rip off stitches. Work the seam ripper until you have cut enough threads; then, you can dismantle the stitch.

If you don’t have access to a seam ripper, you can use a pair of fine-tipped scissors, although it would be harder to maneuver and can increase the chances of damaging your cloth.

If the stitch is multi-layered, always begin with the satin stitch.

Note: the key to a successful stitch removal is patience. Impatience may cause you to make a mistake. Always work with a few centimeters at a time.

Step Four: Pull out The Embroidery From the Front of the Cloth

Turn the cloth back to the right side and gently pull the stitch threads. Use a darning needle to lift the threads and a pair of tweezers to pinch off any stray threads.

If the stitches don’t pull off easily, you should turn the cloth inside out and remove more running threads underneath with your seam ripper.

Repeat the whole process until you have removed the entire embroidery.

How to Remove Machine Embroidery

To remove machine embroidery, you will need embroidery or stitch eraser.

Follow the steps below:

Step One: Turn the Garment Inside Out

Stitch erasers are not foolproof and can scratch the fabric you wish to work on and turn it fuzzy, so it’s safer to work from the back of the garment.

Working from the back also makes it easier for the eraser to work, as embroidery is usually thinner from the back.

Step Two: Tear Off the Embroidery Stabilizer if Possible

Some embroidery comes with a stabilizer to support the fabric and the thread. Your first action will be to remove the stabilizer.

Once you remove the stabilizer, the embroidery threads are open for the eraser to work on.

Step Three: Work the Stitches of The Embroidery With The Eraser

Place the eraser at the edge of the embroidery, make sure the blade of the eraser is pushing against the thread, then slowly push it forward by an inch.

Lift the eraser after pushing it an inch, and then repeat the process of pushing it for another inch until all the embroidery is gone.

If the embroidery is a logo, move the eraser across the entire width of each letter. Repeat until you have covered every inch of the logo.

Step Four: Remove the Rest of The Embroidery by Hand

Turn the fabric right side out and remove the loosened threads of the embroidery from the front by hand.

You can use a seam ripper or fingernails to scrape stray threads away from the embroidery. If some threads remain tough, turn the cloth inside out again and work on it with the eraser.

Please return to the front and pull out all the threads until they are all out.   

Taking Care Of the Fabric After Removing Embroidery

Now that you have removed the embroidery, you will likely notice some marks left by the threads.

These marks give the fabric an unappealing look and should be covered up. You will need a lint roller and a moderately heated electric iron to do this effectively.

The first step is to run the lint roller over the affected area of your jacket to remove any stray thread that might remain on the fabric.

Next, adjust the electric iron according to the heat setting necessary for the fabric. Run the iron across the fabric.

After running the cloth with the iron, place the cloth on a hard surface. Locate the holes made by the removed stitches and scrape your finger with a spoon back and forth twice. 

Ensure that you scratch the holes horizontally and then vertically twice each. Be gentle while doing this, as some fabric can easily tear.

If the holes don’t disappear, iron the fabric and repeat the process until all the holes disappear from view.

Leave a comment