Taking Out Quilting

A while ago I started quilting Ferris Wheel by machine. Then I got back into hand quilting and am now thinking about taking out the machine quilting and replacing it with hand quilting. The reason I want to replace it with hand quilting is that there’s a quilting design I want to use that will be easier for me to do by hand than by machine.

What I’m wondering is if there is a quick way to do this or if it’s just going to be a painstakingly slow process of taking it out stitch by stitch. Thankfully, only 3 of the blocks have been quilted so far. Has anyone done this? Any tips?

Baxter was lounging on the windowsill shortly after having had a drink of water. The wet fur on one side of his neck is a sure giveaway that he has been at the water bowl.

20 thoughts on “Taking Out Quilting

  1. No, unfortunately there is no easy way of taking out quilting stitches. You just must do it slowly so as not to harm the quilt in the process. I don’t envy you at all. Good luck!


  2. I usually manage to pull out two stitches at a time and if you pull the top thread back on itself the bottom thread will pull through slightly and make life easier! Good luck! Love Baxter’s alert lounging – ready to pounce at a moment’s notice!


  3. Cathi, if you can gently pull the top back from the quilt sandwich and reveal the ‘offending’ stitches, you can generally clip those stitches, give a little tug, clip some more, etc. As a longarm quilter who frequently decides she doesn’t like what she has done, I have a lot of practice at this. There is a little eyebrow “tool” that is a stick with a small cutter on the end of it that resembles a straight seam ripper that is great for this if you can find it at your local drug or variety store. I can’t remember offhand who makes it, but they generally come in packages of three. It is the kind of thing you wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t looking for it. Good luck. Just be very careful! Cathy in TN


  4. Like Cathy W. I have had to “skin” ,y fair share of quilts. I do it the way she says, but I peel from the back and slice the exposed threads between the backing and batting. I’d rather “oops” on the backing than my quilt top. It’s not fun, but it works.


  5. As a longarmer, I’ve had to do that fortunately not too many times, but if you rip out every third stitch, usually they will just slip out. Have fun with it, you can always think about how you want to quilt it as you rip out the stitches.
    Baxter is just such a photographic kitty!


  6. I like what Cathy Witt said. I was going to suggest snipping a stitch, then going up about 6 or so and snip another, then take tweezers and pull the thread, should come out in one piece. However, I think I like the idea better of separating the quilt if you can and using a seam ripper or scissors to cut this way.
    Love this photo of Baxter!~I see he’s taken up crossword puzzles too! 🙂


  7. Hey Cathi…I have done it many times. If you have something with a hook you can use it to rip out stitching…
    There is that fine crochet hook that they sell for pulling threads and a pair of scissors. That is what would be the quickest.
    I have frogged whole quilts because of tension issues with my longarm. (that was before I got the tension demon under control)

    Good luck


  8. Hi Cathi……I agree with Leslie…..do the picking from the back side, so in case you slip with the scissors or ripper, you don’t gouge the front of the quilt. But unfortunately, it is a process…..no quick shortcut to take…..just plan on sitting and picking while you are watching a couple of good movies……like Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion. That should help! lol


  9. I use a seam ripper and rip every third stitch. I then pull the back thread and it all comes up. Use scotch tape to mop up the loose thread. I rip about a foot at a time. Works like a charm.


  10. I use small scissors with a curved tip. Clip a couple threads and then start tugging at the top thread. The bobbin these will show. Clip this and tug some more and continue clipping the bobbin thread after tugging. The curved tip scissors ensure that you don’t accidentally snip the quilt top. And yes, this is a perfect “watching tv or baseball” job.


  11. Unfortunately there is no sort cut to ‘unsewing’, it’s a bit tedious. So long as you are careful (and didn’t sew with teeny weeny stitches!) it’s not the worst job in the world, just a bit boring. I can’t really add anything to the tips already received, but would definitely second, third and fourth working from the back. Baxter is looking alert after his drink and working on the crossword!


  12. Cathi,

    No quick tips for you. I agree with some of the comments about taking out stitches on the back. I can normally get by with ripping every third or fourth stitch on the back, and then pull the top thread off with not much difficulty.

    That said, I think Ferris Wheel would look much better with a hand quilted look.


  13. Pingback: Taking Out Quilting | She Who Dies With The Most Fabric Wins | Scoop.it

  14. Pingback: Life.. Intervenes… | Dreamz Happen Quiltz

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