If you like to do your own sewing alterations, you are probability already familiar with the difficulty of removing serging stitches from the inside edges of a garment. Altering seams will often require the removal of all existing clean-finishing prior to applying the new changes. Serging is the most common and inexpensive way to finish the raw edges of seams, thus you'll probably find it on 90% of your clothing items. Learning the easiest way to remove it, will save you time and frustration when you need to undo those meticulous stitches and start from scratch.
A serging stitch is done on an overlock sewing machine and usually applied along the raw edges of a seam. It uses a blade to trim along the raw edge as you sew and features a combination of overlock stitches and straight stitches to permanently encase the raw edge of the fabric. The quality and look of a serging sticth depends on the serger that was used to sew it.
In the image bellow, the straight stitches are displayed by the pink color, while the overlock stitches are white.
You can differentiate between serging stitches by the ratio of overlock and straight stitches it has. A serging stitch done on a more expensive overlock machine will have 3 overlock stitches and 2 straight stitches, and the serging stitch alone can be used as a 2-in-1 substitute for sewing and clean-finishing a seam. This particular serging stitch is durable and maintains a smoother, denser surface.
The least expensive serging stitch uses 1 straight stitch and 2 overlock stitches to clean-finish raw edges. It is still a full finish, but less durable requiring the use of a separate straight stitch to fully complete the seam. Most home sergers fall somewhere in between depending on the price and quality of the machine. More advanced sergers will also allow you to control the tension feed which can be adjusted to woven or knit fabrics accordingly, featuring the ability to also apply gathering or create a ruffle.
Below, we'll show you how to remove a serging stitch that has 2 straight stitches and 2 overlock stitches- this is the most common, mid-range serging stitch. You can use the same method do remove any serging regardless of straight-to-overlock stitch ratio.
The Easy Way To Remove A Serging Stitch
You'll notice that serging stitches are not identical on both sides. A serging stitch has a front and back as pictured above. The front features more pronounced double straight stitches (pink) and parallel loops (overlock stitches)(white). The back, has less visible straight stitches (pink) and the overlock stitches (white) form a set of V-shapes.
1. Insert the seam sipper through both straight stitches (pink) on the front of the serging stitch.
2. Snip the two straight stitches simultaneously with your seam ripper.
3. Count about 3-4 stitches over and insert the seam ripper through the two straight stitches again.
4. Repeating Step 2 above, snip the two stitches with your seam ripper again.
5. Repeat the steps described above, snipping the double straight stitch (pink) at every 3-4 stitches. Continue through the entire serging stitch.
6. Grab the threads of the overlock stitch (white) and simply pull away from the seam. You'll find that the loop threads will come undone easily as you pull along the edge.
7. After removing the overlock stitch threads (white), you'll notice that left over threads from the straight stitch (pink) are left behind along the edge.
Simply pull them off one by one until the edge is clean.
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