How to stop fabric edges from fraying?

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Original Post

I figured someone a little more experienced than I may have a good suggestion for me.

I often cut out designs to sew onto a larger piece of fabric and I always have trouble with the ends becoming very soft or fraying. I don't want to "hem" the image at all I was just wondering if it is something I am doing wrong, or maybe there is a product that dries invisible that I could apply to the edge?

Perhaps there are certain types of fabric that are less prone to fraying?

Thanks bunches!

Posted at 5:19pm Jan 11, 2010 EST


It sounds like you doing applique work, right? If you are using a woven fabric of any kind, it's going to fray unless you finish the edges. You could try using pinking shears (which cuts the fabric edges in a 'V' pattern), but you'll still get some fraying after the piece is washed. I do quite a bit of applique work and two things work for me. I use a fusible interfacing on the back of the applique piece (either a regular interfacing or something like WonderUnder which allows you to fuse to the larger piece of fabric). This does help with fraying to some extent. Then I tightly zigzag stitch all the way around the image. You could try to use a product like Fray Check around the edges, but they will end up crispy. You could also try to use a non-woven fabric like felt or ultrasuede, which do not unravel at all.

Posted at 5:23pm Jan 11, 2010 EST

Yeah, I have had the most luck with suede. However this alchemy is required to be animal friendly. Hmm...hadn't thought of felt.

Upon research this Wonder Under sound really good. I have used something similar in strips but that wouldn't work here. Is it good for ironing on detailed work? I have a tree with slim branches that I need to apply to another piece of fabric...

Posted at 5:30pm Jan 11, 2010 EST

I would use the fusible interfacing. The really light one. It adds a crispness to your piece without being bulky.

Posted at 5:31pm Jan 11, 2010 EST

I love WonderUnder! It comes in sheets or by the yard. Here's what I do... I cut out an area slightly larger than my applique. Then I iron it on to the applique fabric. Then I trace the image onto the paper side back. Cut it out and fuse it to the larger fabric. It works GREAT! Just make sure you are tracing a mirror image on the back if direction matters. ;-) Have you seen the faux suede (made from polyester)? Animal friendly (but petrol derived)... Google UltraSuede. It comes in tons of different colors and won't fray at all. It washes up much better than felt too.

Posted at 5:33pm Jan 11, 2010 EST

I haven't used fusible interfacing (I don't think). There wouldn't possibly be a sticky factor would there?

I imagine that the interface material would have to perfectly fit under the tree that I am applying and that would be pretty dang hard to do. I wonder if I could use spray adhesive to get it to stick to the interface and then cut around the edges.

They need to create a spray adhesive that becomes permanent upon ironing!

Posted at 5:36pm Jan 11, 2010 EST

momomadeit says

steam a seam is similar to wonder under. fuse the steam a seam or wonder under to your fabric first, then cut out the design. then you take the design with the fusible interfacing, lay it onto your base fabric and iron it on. you should get a secure design with nice crisp edges. instructions should be on the packaging.

good luck!

Posted at 5:47pm Jan 11, 2010 EST

When you iron the WonderUnder to the fabric you are making the tree out of, you would treat it like one fabric. It's totally bonded, with a paper backing, so you would cut it AFTER you've bonded the fabric to the WonderUnder. Then you peel the paper off and bond it to the larger piece, permanently. The interfacing would work the same way... you'd bond the tree fabric to the interfacing first and then cut the two as one bonded piece in the shape you need. The interfacing wouldn't be able to be bonded to the larger fabric though. Does that makes sense? I'm terrible at giving directions... ;-)

Posted at 5:50pm Jan 11, 2010 EST

Ah, I see. The stuff I have used didn't have the paper backing. Great stuff, but it has a lot of limits outside of hemming your pants.

Great suggestions, I am eager to get to the craft store. Thanks!!!

Posted at 6:07pm Jan 11, 2010 EST