7 Edge Finishes for Embroidery Fabrics

Removing Threads to Make the Fringe

The Spruce / Mollie Johanson

Prevent fraying as you stitch by using a temporary or permanent edge finish on your embroidery fabric. The process usually doesn't take very long, but it makes stitches easier, as you won't have pesky thread fabrics in the way as you work.

Some of these require a sewing machine (or a friend who has one), while others need only a few basic supplies to create an edge by hand. Choose the method that works best for the embroidery project you're working on.

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.

  • 01 of 07


    Overcast Edge Finishing

    The Spruce / Cheryl Fall

    If you have a sewing machine, overcasting is a fast and easy way to secure the edge of the fabric. In fact, you may even see this type of edge finish on packaged embroidery fabrics that come pre-cut and finished.

    Select the basic zigzag stitch on your machine and adjust it so that it is slightly wider than the default setting for the best results. Narrow zigzag 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.

  • 02 of 07

    Pinked Edges

    Pinked Edge Finishing

    The Spruce / Cheryl Fall

    Use pinking shears to make a zigzag-cut edge around the embroidery fabric that will resist fraying. Follow the grain of the fabric as you cut or pre-mark straight lines on all of the edges.

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

  • 03 of 07

    Fringed Edges

    Self-Fringed Edge Finishing

    The Spruce / Cheryl Fall

    Fringed edges are made by using a drawn thread and hemstitching technique, and can be used on any even weave fabric.

    In addition to preventing fraying, it looks pretty too, which means you'll want to leave this finish in place on your embroidery. In fact, you could use a different technique to protect the fabric edge while you work, and then add this at the end.

  • 04 of 07


    Sewn Hem Finishing

    The Spruce / Cheryl Fall

    Some items that you stitch will require hemming,​ such as napkins, placemats, and tablecloths. It's best to hem the fabric for these before working the embroidery to enclose the raw edges and give a finish that handles laundering well.

    Choose your favorite hemming method either by hand using the hemstitch or rolled hem or by machine using a double-folded hem, serging the edges, etc. For a fast finish, try iron-on or press-on tapes designed for hemming without sewing.

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

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Bias Binding

    Bias Bound Edge Finishing

    The Spruce / Cheryl Fall

    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 tape can be pre-purchased in three-yard packages, or you can make your own.

    This binding can easily be removed using a seam ripper after the embroidery has been completed. Or leave it in place for a permanent finish that is bound, similar to a quilt.

  • 06 of 07

    Edge Taping

    Taped Edge Finishing

    The Spruce / Cheryl Fall

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

    Use artist's tape, folding it around the edge. Masking tape will also work, but it isn't ideal.

    It's best to use this method only on embroidery projects that will have the edges trimmed away later. The tape can be difficult to remove from fabric and can leave a residue.

  • 07 of 07

    Seam Sealant

    Sealed Edge Finishing

    The Spruce / Cheryl Fall

    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.

    This helpful supply can be used on any embroidery fabric and dries clear. These are both machine washable and dry cleanable although in many cases this temporary edge finish will be trimmed away.

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