Stop fraying! Pick a fight with fabric that frays and you can end with a frazzled seamstress. Learning just a few tips on how to stop fabric from fraying will help keep your nerves intact and stop you from unraveling.
Keep that special piece of fabric from disappearing before your very eyes!
Some fabrics tend to fray more than others. Sheer fabrics, beautiful and exotic as they are, can give you the worst uphill battle before you even start to sew.
(Read sewing sheer fabrics)
Then there are the stronger but loose weave fabrics that also have a tendency to fray due to the texture of the fabric. Burlap, canvas and some linens fall into this category.
The following tips will help keep your focus on the fabric and not the fraying. They can apply to all fabrics but the first few are more suited to sheers and the last tips for burlaps and canvas.
How to Stop Fabric from Fraying
There are 9 main ways to stop fabric from fraying
- Widen Seams
- Sew French Seams
- Pinking Shears
- Zig-Zag Stitch
- Bias Tape
- Fraying Solutions
1. Widen Seams
Cut sheer fabrics with a wider seam allowance.
For example: If you add on an extra 3/8” (1cm) and change the seam allowance from 5/8” (1.5cm) to 1” (2.5cm), this allows for some frayed edges.
2. Sew French Seams
Create a French seam with a wider seam allowance. A French seam is a method of enclosing the seam allowance on the inside of the garment.
This means you can sew and then trim off any frayed edges without compromising the seam.
3. Use Interfacing
Using iron-on fusible interfacing on the edges works very well.
Pre-cut 1/4 inch (6mm) narrow strips to add to the raw edges of the seam before sewing. This will stop the fabric from fraying. I
f you still wish to use a French seam, trim off the fusible facing before you turn the fabric and sew the second step.
4. Pinking Shears
Pinking shears are a type of scissors with a zig-zag serrated cutting edge. Because it cuts the fabric on the bias, it stops some fraying.
Pinking shears to stop fraying is best suited to cotton and crisp fabrics with a tight weave. Loosely woven fabrics may still fray so you may want to try another method.
5. Zig-Zag Stitch
A simple machine zig-zag on the edge also works well on cotton fabrics. Try a zig-zag of width 3 and length 3 and see how that looks and whether the fraying is stopped.
A three-step zig-zag is also a good stitch to stop fraying and can make the edges sit flatter.
If you are fraying denim edges and want them to stop at a certain point, a zig-zag stitch around the leg a few inches from the raw edge will stop it fraying all the way up your leg. That way you can control the amount of fraying.
For thicker fabrics, use an overcast or blanket stitch.
We all know hand-stitching is time-consuming so this method is best for really thick fabrics like a canvas which won’t go through your sewing machine easily.
7. Use a Serger
Raw edges can stop fraying with the use of a serger. This is, in fact, a sergers primary purpose.
Your serged edges will stop fraying and look professional at the same time.
Some regular sewing machines may have an overlock edge foot and stitch function which gives a result that looks very similar to that produced by a serger.
This will work just as well but the main difference is that it won’t trim the raw edge before sewing. You can do this manually with a sharp pair of scissors before you sew. Minimize the amount you handle the fabric before sewing.
8. Bias Tape Bound Edges
Two raw edges sandwiched into a strip of bias tape is also acceptable but inclined to be bulky.
Bias bound edges can work well for hems and other tricky edges and is commonly used in jacket construction.
There are 2 main methods of enclosing a fraying seam in bias tape
9. Fabric Glue and Fray Stop
In bulkier fabrics, fabric stopping liquid can come to the rescue or even fabric glue or Mod Podge painted on the edge of the cut fabric.
There are numerous brands of fray stopping liquids including – Fray Stoppa, Fray Check and Dritz Fray Stop.
The liquid or Modge Podge stops those threads from unraveling. Some brands have a squeeze nozzle and others a spray nozzle. The squeeze nozzle is better for more precise applications.
In some circumstances, clear nail polish can be substituted where the seam and item won’t be washed regularly.
Make sure the edge is cut immediately before applying any of these products so there are no flyaway threads to get caught up.
Your other option is to relax and let it fray!
There are always exceptions to the rule and sometimes the frayed look is intended as part of the garment.
Frayed jeans and woven fabrics can look good with frayed edges placed strategically.
Read my full article on how to fray fabric.
Stop Fraying | In Conclusion
The truth of the matter is that getting into a fray with fabric is not the solution to those ragged edges. Use one of the tips provided to stop fabric from fraying and keep yourself at peace with the fabric you are working on.