Stop fraying! Pick a fight with fabric that frays, and you can end with a frazzled sewer. 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!
Stop Fraying Fabric Tutorial
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.
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 Fraying in Fabric
There are 10 main ways to stop fraying in fabric
- Widen Seams
- French Seams
- Pinking Shears
- Zig-Zag Stitch
- Blanket Stitch
- Bias Tape
- Stop Fray Solution
- Fabric Glue
1. Widen Seams
Cut sheer fabrics with a wider seam allowance. For example: If you add on an extra ⅜” (1cm) and change the seam allowance from ⅝” (1.5cm) to 1” (2.5cm), this allows for some frayed edges.
2. Sew French Seams
Create a French seam finish with a wider seam allowance. A French seam is a method of enclosing the seam allowance on the inside of the garment with lightweight fabrics. This means you can sew and then trim off any frayed edges without compromising the seam.
3. Use Interfacing
Using iron-on fusible interfacing or iron-on hem tape on the edges works very well to stop fraying.
Pre-cut ¼ inch (6mm) narrow strips to add to the raw edges of the seam before sewing. This will stop the fabric from fraying. If you still wish to use a French seam, trim off the fusible facing before you turn the fabric and sew the second step. You can also place hemming tape inside a folded edge and then press it with an iron according to the instructions.
4. Pinking Shears
Pinking shears are a type of scissors with a zig-zag serrated blade cutting edge. Because it cuts the fabric edges on the bias, it stops some fraying.
Pinking shears to stop fraying is best suited to cotton and crisp fabrics with a tight weave. You usually can only cut one or two layers at a time. Loosely woven fabrics may still fray, so you may want to try another method. There are also rotary cutters available with a pinking blade.
5. Zig-Zag Stitch
A simple machine zigzag stitch on the edge of the fabric also works well on cotton. 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 from fraying all the way up your leg. That way, you can control the amount of fraying.
6. Blanket Stitch (Handstitch)
For thicker fabrics, stop fraying by using an overcast or blanket stitch. We all know hand-stitching is time-consuming, so this method is best for really thick fabrics like 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 serger's 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 and cut edges 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 to stop fraying but are inclined to be bulky. Bias-bound edges can work well for hems and other tricky edges and are commonly used in jacket construction.
There are 2 main methods of enclosing a fraying seam in bias tape
How to Seal Fabrics without Sewing
9 & 10 - Fabric Glue, Fray Stop Seam Sealant
In bulkier fabrics, fabric sealants can come to the rescue, or even fabric glue or Mod Podge painted on the edge of the cut fabric. Always do a test first for the types of fabrics this method is suitable for.
There are numerous brands of fray stopping liquids, including:
- Fray Stoppa
- Fray Check
- Dritz Fray Stop.
The liquid adhesive 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, layer of nail polish can be substituted where the seam and item won't be washed regularly. Make sure it is clear nail polish unless you want a colored new edge.
Make sure the edge is cut immediately before applying any of these products, so there are no flyaway threads to get caught up. Use a cotton swab for greater precision.
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. Stop fraying today!
- Sewing Basics
- Pinking Shears - These serrated sewing scissors will cut the fabric on the bias and stop if from fraying.
- Zig-Zag Stitch - Use a zig-zag stitch on the raw edges. Test a scrap of fabric on a width 3 and length 3.
- Fabric Glue - Clear drying fabric glue can be used to seal edges and stop fraying.
- Widen Seams - This works well for sheer fabrics where other finishing methods are not suitable.
- Sew French Seams - French seams enclose all raw edges and stop them from fraying.
- Use Interfacing - A thin strip of iron-on interfacing on the edge will stop fraying.
- Blanket Stitch - This hand stitch creates an attractive edge that also will not fray. Great for fleece and felt.
- Serger - This is a great machine for finishing edges and stopping them fraying.
- Bias Tape - Bind the edges by slipping thin bias tape over the raw edge.
- Fray Stop - This commercial product will stop the edges fraying.