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How to sew to stop fraying

Updated February 21, 2017

Woven fabrics can fray since the cut edges of the fabric respond to movement when used or laundered. You can use a sewing machine to finish the seams or edges of the fabric to prevent fraying. Some sheer fabrics as well as denim tend to fray easily and the seams can rip out because the fabric on both sides of the seam has disintegrated. Several methods can easily bind the seam edges and do not add bulk or cost to a sewing project.

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Using double seams

  1. Place the pieces of fabric together with pins. You could also baste the parts together with long stitches using a needle and thread.

  2. Sew the seam with your sewing machine according to pattern directions. Most seams are 1.5 cm (5/8 inches) wide. Cut the threads and sew another seam about 3 mm (1/8 inch) away from the original seam on the outside seam allowance. Snip the threads.

  3. Trim the seams using pinking shears, a type of scissor that reduces fraying by cutting small pieces of fabric on the diagonal.

Using zigzag function

  1. Sew the seam as in Section 1.

  2. Set your machine to zigzag for the width and density of the stitch you want. If you are sewing fabric that tends to fray easily, use a tighter zigzag stitch.

  3. Zigzag each side of the fabric and sew the parts together. Press the seam flat when you have finished. You can also sew the seam first and then zigzag both seam edges together to save time. Trim excessive fabric away from the line of zigzagging.


  1. Fold the right side of the seam edge over by 3 mm (1/8 inch) and press it down. Sew the hem down.

  2. Sew the seams together. Make just a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) seam, since you have used 3 mm (1/8 inch) of the seam allowance to make the hem and prevent fraying.

  3. Press the seams flat.

  4. Tip

    If you want to combine sewing a seam and finishing the edges in one step, consider getting a serger that cuts, sews and trims at all once. Sergers sew both woven and knitted fabrics, wrapping the seam edges tightly in the same way that commercially made clothing is produced.

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Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Pinking shears
  • Iron

About the Author

Jackie Johnson is a published writer and professional blogger, and has a degree in English from Arizona State University. Her background in real estate analysis prepared her for objective thinking, researching and writing.

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