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Edge Finishes for Embroidery Fabrics

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Using a temporary edge finish on your embroidery fabric helps prevent fraying as you stitch. All embroidery fabrics should have a temporary or permanent edge finish before stitching.

Before edge-finishing your embroidery fabric, remember to cut away the selvage from the fabric. This self-hemmed fabric edge is thicker and can cause the embroidery hoop to not fit well, and the selvage has very little give.

These are the methods most often used for embroidery fabrics of all types.

To get a better view of the technique, click on the photo to enlarge.

1. Overcasting

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Overcasting is my favorite method of edge finishing, and can be done by hand, using the zig zag feature of your sewing machine.

Select the basic zig-zag stitch on your machine and adjust it so that it is slightly wider than the default setting for best results. Narrow zig-zag settings won't secure enough of the warp and weft threads and fraying could still occur.

You can also overcast the fabric edges using an overlock stitch on your serger.

Whichever method you choose, be sure that the stitch covers the raw edges of the fabric. The stitching needs to enclose the fibers along each side of the fabric to prevent fraying.

2. Pinked Edges

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Pinking Shears can be used to make a zigzag-cut edge around the embroidery fabric that will resist fraying.

Some fraying will still occur, but it will be minimized by using this type of scissors.

3. Fringed Edges

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Fringed Edges are made by using drawn thread and hemstitching techniques, and can be used on any evenweave fabric.

In addition for preventing fraying, it looks pretty too!

Check out the fringe tutorial for directions on making this easy finish.

4. Hemming

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Items that require hemming, such as napkins, placemats and tablecloths, should be hemmed using your chosen method (by hand using the hemstitch or rolled hem, by machine using a double-folded hem, serging the edges, etc.) before working the embroidery. This encloses the raw edges in the hem.

This method will also save you time when the project has been completed, by not having to work the hem later.

5. Bias Binding

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Some stitchers prefer to bind the edges of their fabric with bias binding, completely enclosing the raw edges of the fabric. This is especially true with large-scale pieces that will require a lot of handling.

Single- or double-fold bias binding can be pre-purchased in 3-yard packages, or you can make your own.

This binding can easily be removed using a seam ripper after the embroidery has been completed.

6. Edge Taping

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Edge taping is commonly used for needlepoint, and is safe for use on needlepoint canvas.

However, this method should only be used on embroidery projects that will have the edges trimmed away later. Tape is difficult to remove from fabric and can leave a residue.

Damage occurs when the tape adheres to the fibers in the fabric causing the raw edges too fray resulting in excessive fiber loss when the tape is removed from the finished embroidery.

7. Seam Sealant

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Seam sealants such as Fray Check from Prym Dritz or Fray Block from June Taylor, are liquid glues used to secure the edges of the fabric and stop fraying.

Seam sealants can be used on any embroidery fabric and dries clear.

These are both machine washable and dry cleanable. However, in many cases this temporary edge finish will be trimmed away.

On dark or silky fabrics, the seam sealant may be noticable after it dries, so be sure to check in an inconspicuous area before using if the product will not be trimmed after completing the project.

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