Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Sewing, Theory | Comments Off on Finishing Fabric Edges

This is part 6 in a series designed to walk you through designing and sewing an elastic waistband skirt. If you have missed steps, you should go back to this page.

If you want the clothing you’re making to last, one of the most important things you can do is finish the edges before you sew it together.

The thing with clothing is that they, obviously, take a lot more wear and tear than other objects we sew. You want them to be able to withstand wearing as much as possible. The problem is that fabrics tend to fray as more stress is placed on them, so we have to make the fabric as strong as possible. In this post, I’ll show you four options for finishing the edges of your skirt before you proceed to actually making it. All of these are really good options, but some are better than other. Of course, the better they are, the more likely they are to take a little bit of time, effort, and in one case, money.

The Stay Stitch

2015-02-17 11.58.52The most basic of the seam finishes, is the stay stitch. This is where you simply sew a straight line as close to the edge of the fabric as possible. Though this will keep the edge from fraying, it does not add any extra strength to the seam. On lighter weight fabrics, it can also cause bunching if your thread tension isn’t just right.

The Zigzag

2015-02-17 11.59.28Using a zigzag stitch on the edge of the fabric can have a much more strengthening effect on the seams that you create. Of the options I present in this post, this is the most simple and the strongest. If your machine has a zigzag option, I highly recommend you do this before you sew.

As a note, I do this all the way around fabric I buy before I wash it. I find this is a great way to get rid of the last remnants that are on spools of thread.

The Turn and Stitch

2015-02-17 11.59.21The most difficult of these finishes, the turn and stitch gives your garments the most structure you can ask for with your typical sewing machine. If you go into a vintage clothing store, you’ll often find this finish on many of the seams in there. Before the advent of the serger, this was the best option you had for seams that lasted years, even decades.

To complete this finish, cut about 1⁄8 of an inch more than you usually would on your seam allowance. Then turn that 1⁄8″ in and sew over the top.

The Serge

Finally, there’s the machine that’s meant for finishing the edges of your fabrics. With all the ease of the zigzag stitch above, a serger cuts off the raw edges of fabric and wraps thread all the way around the new, straight edge. The bad part about this is that it does require another machine that can cost you anywhere between $300 and $2000. I only recently got my first serger, and I got it because of a very generous relative who heard I needed one and wanted to buy my husband and I a wedding present.

If you’re interested in serging your garments, but don’t own a serger already, some stores that sell them will let you rent a machine in the store by the hour. If you do that, I’d recommend putting the same amount of money you spend on the machine rental away toward buying your own in the future. That’s what I was doing for quite a while.

Now, there are certainly more seam finishing options available to you, but I thought I’d only provide 4 at a time. On our next project, I’ll show you some more.

Did you learn something from this post? Consider:

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