How to Master the Frog Stitch (as painlessly as possible)

As a community, quilters are known for their positive attitudes and even humorous outlook on life. As a beginner quilter, I quickly learned that there was a whole new language to learn, that pretty much reflects quilters’ quirkiness. Frog stitching was one of the first terms I would have to become familiar with, and a sewing technique I was quickly to master as a beginner quilting.

It took me a while to understand what this meant. On forums I would see other quilters talking about having to frog something, and at times would even brag about their frogging skills and even argue at who was the queen frog. I finally started connecting the dots when I saw this phrase used within the context of “reverse stitching.” You see, part of the quilting experience seems to involve not making (or admitting to making) mistakes. Rather, when things don’t quite work out the way you planned, this is a great opportunity to learn. At least that’s what I’ve come to believe.

So what, pray, is the Frog Stitch? Simply put, it’s when you make a boo boo and have to RIPPIT, RIPPIT!

For one reason or another, every quilter will have to rip out stitches at one point or another. That’s why the seam ripper was invented, right? Wrong! More often than not, I use my seam ripper as a stiletto. I have a quicker and easier method to approach frogging. This I learned as a child from my mother. I can remember many a time when I was called to hold tightly onto one piece of the fabric she was stitching, while she ran a razor blade down along the stitches and quickly ripped them out. Nifty.

Now, in as much as possible, we all avoid frog stitching. But sometimes it is inevitable. As I discovered this morning when I went to sew on the borders for my Rectangle Fun quilt. All of a sudden I realized I had inverted the order of the third and fourth panel, and when I sewed both halves together I ended up with the fabric matching on 3 pairs of rectangles.

Now if this had happened once, or even three times scattered throughout the quilt, I would have let it slide. And insisted it was just part of the charm of the quilt. But this repetition happened along the same seam, smack down the center of the quilt. I knew this was going to bother me. Better to go back and redo. The only thing that has changed compared to my mother’s razor blade method is that we now have rotary cutters that do the same trick. And are easier to hold. I use a small one for this.

Now probably the most annoying thing about the Frog Stitch is having to deal with all those little threads that remain stuck in the seam line. And I had two long seams to deal with.

Enter another modern quilting “tool:” the masking tape. (I don’t know if this was available as a kid. Maybe that’s why my mom didn’t use it.)

Simply tear off a piece long enough to wind around your fingers. Wind it with the sticky side out and tape the ends onto each.

And now simply roll the tape along the wrong side of the fabric (don’t ask me why, it is easier doing this on the wrong side). Lift the tape up and you will see all those little threads have now been easily lifted off onto the tape.

Keep rolling along the entire seam line until all the threads have been lifted off. You might have to use several pieces of tape for this. And when you’re finished, turn your piece over to the right side and pick up any loose threads on that side.

So… not so painful after all, right?

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