I just tossed out a seam ripper I've had since I first started working with embroidery. It had begun to frustrate me because it tugged on the threads rather than ripped them, and then the fabric seams were pulled. For whatever reason, I never considered that it was a dull blade! It was tiny and sat nicely in the machine drawer where I could find it. However, as tools go, it was useless.
Why is it that I keep things that no longer serve my greater good? A seam ripper that cost $2 back in 1974 gave me four decades of use making it cost less than a nickel a year to own and work with. I had no emotional attachment to it and in fact because it was so small, there were times I lost it in the house. Yet, I kept it.
Most rippers have a 'U' shaped blade attached to a handle. One side is pointed and longer. On the newer rippers, the shorter side has a plastic ball on it for protection of the fabrics. The inner curve is the cutting edge.
I have four other rippers that I've collected along the way. I think the smallest of the four (made by Collins) was probably one I purchased the same time as the one that just got tossed. They were kept in my embroidery project bag with their covers so they didn't damage the fabrics.
The middle two rippers were part of my friend Lee's estate (a Singer and an Allstitch). I was ecstatic to have rippers that were hand size rather than just finger size. The pink one with the rubber end to it (Seam Fix) was a recent gift in a swap. The white rubber end will catch the cut threads and pull them away from the fabric without any real work on my part.
My Gramma taught me to cut thread on one side of the seam every 3-4 stitches and in some cases, rip threads between the top & bottom fabrics. Usually one side of the seam will cut easier than the other, so its a matter of testing which side comes free without a struggle. Its important to work under good light so the fabric doesn't get clipped.
You can buy seam rippers with a lot of accessories like magnifying glasses, lights, needle threaders, thread pullers, and ergonomic handles. Thing is, they are in hard plastic packaging so its hard to hold them in your hand for fit before your purchase. Rippers range in price from $2-$30 each. And just because it costs more doesn't mean it will work better for you. Most online stores include Star Ratings with the product information as well as Consumer Reviews, so that is a start if you are the kind of shopper who wants to know what she is buying. And of course, in this era, its best to keep your receipt in case the product either doesn't fit your hand, or doesn't work the way you expect.
Merchandise for quilting is rarely returnable because of warranty expiration, or receipt loss. What some consumers notice is that prices go up and the quality is not always there. I've been reading that some of these ripper blades will snap off the plastic handle or simply do not have a good cutting edge. Depending upon brand names is a thing of the past.
Having a good working tool is as important to me as having healthy relationships. I haven't got a lot of patience when it comes to things not working correctly & usually take steps to restore balance. I've got a trip planned to the big city this weekend and getting at least one new ripper is #2 on the list.