How to Deal with Fabric that Frays Easily

Some fabrics are difficult to sew on because the edges are constantly unraveling or fraying. This is very common in fabrics for formal wear, such as silk and satin. A little unraveling is normal in most fabrics, but when it becomes an issue, you should try a simple trick — serge all the edges before you begin sewing.

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Photo credit: SharonaGott

You might think serging takes a lot of extra time, but the truth is that you will have to finish your seams at some point during the project anyway, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get it over with at the beginning. Depending on your pattern, it may take a little extra time to do all of the serging upfront, but you will make up that time as you work on your sewing project since you will no longer have to deal with the unraveling and fraying edges.

Of course, not everyone has a serger, so this isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for fraying edges. However, some sewing machine models have a presser foot attachment that transforms a sewing machine into a serger. I have one for my machine, and honestly, it doesn’t work as well as an actual serger, but it does provide a similar result. The biggest difference is the width of the serged edge and the speed at which you can sew. When you use a serger foot for your sewing machine, you can’t achieve the same wide seam finish as on a serger, and sewing too fast can cause your thread to break.

Another common way to deal with fabric fraying is to do a simple zig-zag along all of the edges of the sewing pieces. This doesn’t look as pretty as a serged edge, but it gets the job done. Some people also prevent raveling with pinking shears. I wouldn’t suggest pinking shears for formal wear fabric, though, because it tends to make the problem worse. Serging the edges really is the best way to go. You can use Fray Check if you’re working on a small project.

Do you have any other tricks for preventing fabric fraying? Leave a comment.