How to Keep Raw Fabric Edges From Fraying

    by eHow Contributor

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    There are times that you want fabric to fray. After cutting off the legs of a pair of blue jeans, the traditional look for the resulting denim shorts is to let the raw edges fray. Most of the time, however, you want to keep those threads intact and not let the edge unravel as woven and knit fabrics will do after a round through the washer and dryer.

    Things You'll Need

    • Pinking or scalloping shears
    • Sewing needle
    • Thread
    • Sewing machine
    • Serger or overlock machine
    • Binding tape
    • Liquid seam sealant

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    Trim approximately 1/8 inch off the fabric edge, using pinking shears or scalloping shears. The zigzag or scalloped blades produce a fray-resistant edge.

    Finish the raw edge by hand, using an overcast stitch. Make evenly spaced diagonal stitches over and under the raw fabric edge. Overcast stitches are approximately 1/4 inch deep.

    Stitch over the fabric edge by using your sewing machine's zigzag stitch or any other stitch setting stitches over the raw edge. Position your fabric so that stitches will form over the edge, or stitch close to fabric edge and trim away excess.

    Use a serger to finish fabric edges, trim off excess fabric, and stitch a seam at the same time. Sergers are special sewing machines that use three to five threads instead of the conventional two.

    Wrap the raw edges of the fabric with edge binding tape to keep them from fraying. Sewn along the very edge of the fabric, the tape protects the threads exposed from cutting out the pattern.

    Apply liquid seam sealant along the cut edge of the fabric to lock the threads in place. Just a small amount along the cut edge is enough to secure the threads. Allow the sealant to dry before handling the fabric.

    • Use pinking shears and scalloping shears only to finish edges. These tools are not meant for cutting out a sewing pattern.
    • Press any seams before using pinking or scalloping shears.
    • Cut the thread length approximately 24 inches long when hand-sewing. This length is easier to work with, and thread has less chance of knotting up.