Thursday, December 1, 2016

How to Finish Fabric Edges

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some pictures on Facebook of the little travel tissue holders that I made for the Operation Christmas Child boxes that our church put together.  In case you missed it, here they are again.


They were a lot of fun to make and are a great way to use up scraps of fabrics as well.  This is the TUTORIAL that I used to make mine.

I thought I would use this project to write a little tutorial on how to finish off fabric edges to keep them from fraying after washing or use.  If you make a project that has exposed seams on the inside, you will need to finish them to keep them from fraying after much use or washing.

I used woven, cotton prints for these little pouches so that is what we will be working on in this tutorial.  Woven fabrics like to fray so we need to treat the edges.  Let's begin!

3 Ways to Finish Fabric Edges

1.  Zig Zag Stitch

If you have a sewing machine at home, chances are it can sew a zig zag stitch.  There are some straight stitch only machines but the majority of machines have several stitches to choose to from and the zig zag stitch is one.

To finish my edges, I set my machine to the zig zag stitch and then adjusted the stitch width and stitch length.  My stitch length is 2.5 and as you can see from this picture, my stitch width is 3.5.  This is how wide the zag is.  You can make it bigger if you would like but I didn't have a lot of fabric in my seams after I trimmed them so I kept this number at 3.5.


Most machines do come with a special presser foot to do the overcast stitches (which is what a zig zag stitch is) but for this tutorial, I am just going to use the standard presser foot "A". 

I put my fabric under the presser foot and what you want to happen is when the needle goes to the left, it stitches in the fabric but when the needle moves to the right, it should go off the edge of the fabric by just a little.  You can turn your hand wheel towards you a couple of times to make sure you have lined it up correctly.  You can reverse with a zig zag stitch so don't forget to do that at the beginning and end line of stitching!






Here are all of the tissue holders where I zig zagged the edges!  There is a seam on each side of the holder but this picture only one side of the holders.  If there aren't perfect or if you didn't go off the edge of the fabric perfectly, don't worry!  These are one on the INSIDE and normally are not seen.  They really are meant to be functional more than pretty.  This will help keep your edges from fraying.





2. Pinking Shears

You remember these shears from Grandma's sewing box.  They looked really cool to cut with but she wouldn't let you near them!  Now you will find out why!



These are the shears with the little triangles in the blades.  They are super sharp and you want to keep them that way so do NOT use them on paper!  They aren't the easiest to have sharpened so keeping them sharp is a high priority here.

You can use these in a couple different ways to finish off fabric edges.  You could cut out your pieces of fabric with pinking shears before sewing OR you can trim off your seams with them after sewing.   In this project, I choose the latter.  I sewed all of my little holders together and then went back and just slightly trimmed off the fabric edges with the pinking shears.  These little triangles cut the fabric on the bias and when that happens, it is less likely to fray.





Pinking shears are a great thing to have on your Christmas list too.  Here is a *link to where your loved one can buy a pair for you!



3.  Serger

Now I do realize that most folks don't own a serger but I still wanted to cover it in case you find that it would be helpful in what you mainly sew.  As you know, my Etsy shop offers catheter bag covers and these are not lined so all of them have exposed seams on the inside.  I use my serger to finish off all fabric edges so that they don't fray from all the washings they will receive.  My serger provides a very sturdy overcast serger stitch so I prefer this over a zig zag stitch on my regular sewing machine.

This is my serger.  I actually bought it used at my local Janome dealer here in Stallings called AAA Sewing Shoppe.  The owner knew that I was in the market for one and that I didn't really want to pay a lot for a brand new one since I didn't know then how much I would really use it.  She called me when the local school district decided to trade in their "old" ones for the year (mine was barely 3 years old and hardly used).  My Janome serger is an 1110DX.



You can either finish off the edges of fabric with the serger BEFORE sewing the fabric pieces today or you can serge the seams as you sew your project.  I just serge my seams for this project after I was all done.  Here is how they look.





Serging the fabric edges is a really durable way to finish them especially if they are going to be handled or washed a lot.  Now, see that thread tail in the second picture?  What I do with those that are left hanging out is to thread that tail through a large knitting needle and then run the tail back through the serged loops of thread.  This is a great way to finish them off so they are less likely to come undone.  There are other ways to finish off the tails but this is the method that I use the most.  





So there you have it!  Three common ways to finish off the fabric edges in exposed seams.  Hope one of these methods works well for what you make.  




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