Garment Construction

How to Stop Your Fabric From Fraying Excessively

Sheer or very lightweight fabrics have a place in our wardrobes every season of the year. As the holidays approach, they become a favorite option for making party clothes, holiday decorations and evening attire. But, sewing with them can sometimes be a real challenge. They slide all over the worktable, making them difficult to cut and keep together. And those raw edges fray like crazy! By the time I get to hemming my project, I have lost a good quarter to three-eighths of an inch due to excessive fraying.

Iron Pressing a Delicate Fabric

Clearly, when attempting to sew with sheer, or for that matter, any fabric that frays excessively, having a strategy to deal with it is a must. Significantly reducing or preventing the raw edges from fraying in the first place helps assembling any project so much easier.

Here’s how to stop your fabric from fraying excessively:

One way to contain the fraying, though a bit on the extreme side, is to iron fusible lightweight interfacing onto the edges of cut pattern pieces.

Step 1:

Cut out all the pattern pieces with an 3/8″ added to the seam allowances.

This means seam allowances go from the traditional 5/8″ to 1″.

Step 2:

Cut 1/4″ strips of lightweight fusible interfacing — lots and lots of them.

Tip: Using a good straight edge see-thru ruler and a rotary cutter makes this a very fast and easy task to complete.

Materials to Stop Excessive Fraying

Step 3:

After the pattern pieces are cut and marked, iron the fusible interfacing to all the edges. This seals the fabric edges, preventing any fraying from occurring, or at the very least, considerably reducing the amount of fraying.

Step 4:

Because of the slippery nature of most sheers, I prefer to lay a strip of interfacing, glue side up, on the ironing board and then lay the wrong side of the fabric over the interfacing, lining up the raw edges. Press and fuse the two pieces together.

Using Interfacing to Stop Fraying

Step 5:

Now, let’s deal with that extra seam allowance we added. In most cases, when sewing with sheers, I prefer to use French seams wherever possible. This totally eliminates the fraying issue and makes the inside of the garment look as finished as the outside.

The standard method for sewing French seams begins by sewing a seam with wrong sides together using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Instead, sew the seam with a 5/8″ seam allowance. Then, trim the seam down to between 1/8″ to 1/4″. This effectively trims away the ironed-on interfacing. Then, proceed to complete the French seam in the usual manner.

Frayed edges are now completely contained and totally concealed. And, no sign of the added interfacing remains.

Fabric and Trimmed Interfacing

Granted, doing this for every seam may be a bit overboard. As an alternative, pick your targets of where fraying is the most problematic, like hems.

Hems are usually the last step in garment construction, and as a result, are the most vulnerable to excessive fraying. In contrast, shoulder seams tend to be one of the earlier steps, and the shoulder seam cut runs more on a bias, so they’re less vulnerable to fraying.

Though extreme, this method really works. Yes, it will add a bit of extra time and labor to completing your project, but the benefits outweigh the added effort. I find this works great with lining material, which is notorious for fraying, and find the interfacing adds no weight or bulk to impede construction.

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6 Comments

Cathy

Fray Check could be good. I would apply a very thin line around the edges right after cutting out the fabric while all the pieces are still lying flat. Slip a piece of newspaper or something under seams to act as a drop cloth as you go along so as not to gunk up your cutting surface, then let dry for a while before picking up your pieces and starting to sew..

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Tiffini

Any advice on making bias binding from these fabrics?

Reply
Odessa

Terial Magic is a new fabric stabilizer product on the market that you spray on any fabric, air dry for 10 minutes and then iron… it takes on a beautiful hand that makes sewing, folding, pleating, or even printing on your fabric super easy. I’ve been using it for everything lately!

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Kim Hurren

do you know if terial magic would work with brocades?

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Karen s

Making a rag wreath with Muslin and its fraying like crazy. What a mess!!!! What can I do. Using Muslin (cotton) from Joanns @2.99/yd. HELP

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Pauline T

Tiffani the best way to make bias binding for chiffon is to cut true crossway strips that are 6 times the finished binding edge. This following method may seem laborious, but works well with fine fabric that moves too much. Or you can use ready prepared regular 1″ satin binding bought in a shop. Some other alternative methods are mentioned at the bottom of this answer.

The easiest way to make a chiffon binding is to mark a line across the 45 degree grain angle on the chiffon fabric using a water soluble pen or chalk. I find it doesn’t move much on carpet. Take that fabric to the ironing board and fold it on the marked line pressing it firmly as you fold. You now have a more stable strip to cut and make the binding. You may cut it at this stage if you wish and use it in the same way as a double binding would normally be used. I take more precautions on all chiffon or silky fine fabrics by stitching the folded binding together near the raw edge.

Mark the binding again, but this time a measurement of 3 times the finished binding width you need, away from that fold. For a fine binding I would suggest 3/4″ . Of course make a few samples to get the measurement right.
Now cut outside of the two layers of the new marked line by about 1cm.

Put in a few pins and take the fabric to the sewing machine. Stitch slowly a straight line through your folded fabric very slightly inside the marked line outer edge. Slow stitching will help stop it pulling and distorting. Press again and trim away excess to within about 1 mm.

The length is now more stable to apply a double binding by machine stitching near the cut edges of your hem or neckline. It will not flop open. Take appropriate cutting action to remove any excess garment allowance that may be included for a faced edge, having first stay stitched the neck edge for example before cutting.

When you start to finish sewing the binding by hand you have a neat flat double piece of chiffon fabric and no rolling uneven fraying bits of fabric that cannot be tamed. If you need longer binding lengths you will need to rough cut at the initial stage of a second folded edge, join two pieces at a 45 degree angle, press that seam and then proceed as before.

In these examples below you should use machine embroidery thread. Normal sewing thread will look too heavy and unattractive.

Simple alternatives are to test a small width close zig zag stitch using an overedge foot and for eventual use on the cut raw hem. Adjust the width and stitch length until you get an attractive finish. Sometimes a more open length and narrower width zig zag will work best. This light edge is ideal for frothy frills. Do not try to do satin stitch. Use the next method for that.

If you want a satin stitch edge, narrower is daintier than a great big wide satin stitch. Do not trim the fabric. Make a sample first always.
Satin stitch on your hemline using water soluble stabiliser beneath the fabric. Don’t pull or tug off the stabiliser or you may distort the stitching. Trim very close to the satin stitch outer edge removing chiffon waste and WS stabiliser. Do not cut through the satin stitches. Better to leave a thread of fabric than cut through. Trim the excess WSS on the reverse side. Any remaining visible water soluble stabiliser can easily be removed with a paintbrush dipped in water or a cloth wipe.

Another alternative is to use a satin scallop stitch. Do this through paper the same colour as the fabric or use the water soluble stabiliser as above. The close stitching will cut most of the paper if that is your choice.

Hand rolled hems are best left to hand sewing experts.

The last two involve using the rolled hem stitching foot. This works really well on straight lengths of chiffon. Read up on the rolled hem foot or watch YouTube videos about using it.

An alternative would be to use a shell edge built in stitch normally found near blind hem stitches. This is also done with a rolled hem foot. Occasionally your machine will have a shell hem foot.

I hope these ideas help the chiffon challenged.

A 12″ long sample will always show if it’s going to be hard or easy to get the required finish. Use your sample to adjust stitch length and width. Just do not use the maximum speed. Then choose the method you can do best. Only you know what a beast your fabric is like.

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