How To Remove Embroidery With Backing

January 14, 2021

Removing embroidery at any time can be a time-consuming tedious job, especially if you have never done it before.

You have to be super careful that you remove the embroidery gently, to ensure that it does not cause damage to the garment itself and to ensure that it is removed adequately.

This task is made even more difficult when the embroidery in question has a backing behind it.

How To Remove Embroidery With Backing
woman doing embroidery by hand

In this article, we are going to be exploring the different methods for removing embroidery with backing.

However, before we get into that, it would be helpful first to establish what embroidery with backing is so that you can identify and determine whether your embroidery has this or not.

This will help you to decide on the best course of action to follow when removing your embroidery. 

Why is backing needed on embroidery?

When you are embroidering something, be it a pattern, or a name, or anything else you wish, it is very important to have a stable foundation. This ensures that the garment itself remains stable, as well as being less likely to sustain damage when you are embroidering.

It is one of the most important factors for good embroidery. Typically, the type of backing used is what is known as ‘cutaway backing’. They are most often used for commonly embroidered garments such as T-shirts, polo shirts, and fleece items. 

There are many different types of cutaway backing, but the most common are mesh backing and tearaway backing. There is also basic cutaway backing that is best for use when embroidering with a machine.

Because tearaway backing is torn away after embroidering is finished, the two types that we are going to be referring to are basic and mesh. Both of these will be treated the same when removing embroidery from them. 

Removal methods

Whether you have used a machine to embroider, or done so by hand, and whether your backing is mesh or basic, the methods for the removal of embroidery are the same.

However, before we begin telling you about these methods, we want to make you aware of the importance of ensuring you have a flat surface to work on. This will help to ensure that your garment sustains no damage and that you do not tear the garment along with the stitching. 

With this in mind, we can start to explore the different methods of removing embroidery with backing. 

Seam ripper

The first of these methods is that of the seam ripper. Seam rippers are handy tools that you can keep in your sewing kit and DIY repertoire.

They are shaped a little like a claw, with sharp pointy ends. They can unpick seams, and so they can also be used for unpicking stitches.

The best way to do this is to turn your garment inside out and locate the embroidery backing. You can then start to slowly and gently tug away at the threads, loosening them one by one. You may then want to cut them with small, sharp sewing scissors.

If you do not have sewing scissors you can use small, clean nail scissors to do this. This method is very tedious and time consuming though, and may only suit those people who are removing very small amounts of embroidery. 

A stitch eraser

This method runs rings around the previous one because of how fast it is in comparison. A stitch eraser is a great option if you have one to hand.

These handy contraptions look very much like electric shavers and trimmers. They are powered by electric or batteries and like shavers, they have small ‘teeth’ that can cut away your embroidery from your garment. 

Cleverly, it can do this without damaging the garment underneath, provided you are working on a flat surface, that you pull the garment taut, and that you take your time doing it. 

All you have to do is turn your garment inside out, locate the backing and embroidery, and run the stitch eraser right over the back.

Depending on how much embroidery there is, you may need to do this a few times. The embroidery will then be able to be easily removed.

Use tweezers or seam rippers to take out loose threads, turn it back around the right way, and proceed to wipe away all of the stitching. It should be practically falling off easily anyway.  

This method is a great one to use if you are short on time or if you have large amounts of detailed embroidery that you want to erase.

The downside is that not many people have these tools at their disposal, and they may not be able to wait until they purchase one. 

Electric shaver

Remember that stitch eraser we talked about in the previous step? Remember how it was very similar in look to an electric shaver?

Well, turns out, they are similar in more ways than one! Many people have successfully removed embroidery with an electric shaver.

Electric shavers are also equipped with those seem teeth that a stitch eraser has, making it super easy to run it over the back of your embroidery.

Follow the same instructions that we gave you in the previous method, ensuring you are working on a flat surface with your garment inside out so you can run it along the embroidery backing.

When this is done simply turn the garment around the right way and brush or rub away the now loosened embroidery. 

Manual razor

The last method we wanted to tell you about is the use of a manual razor. The best type you can use is a throw-away/one-use kind of razor. You know, those plastic ones you can buy in bulk at the drugstore?

Grab a clean, unused one of these, turn your garment inside out, and repeatedly run it over the embroidery backing. It may take a little longer than the electric shaver, and indeed the stitch eraser, but it will still be far quicker than the seam ripper method.

It is super important that you make sure the garment is always pulled taut and on a firm, flat surface for this method to ensure that you do not accidentally shave some of the garment too. When all of the embroidery on the backing has been loosened, you can then proceed to rub away the rest of it from the front. 

Final verdict

As you can see, the removal of embroidery with backing is as easy as pie.

All you need are some common household items, a flat space, and of course, the garment in question!

We hope you have found these methods very helpful, and that they have made your embroidery removal tasks easier than ever. 

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