Hemming Cotton Tips: How to Stop Cotton Fabric From Fraying

When you are sewing there are always a few issues that distract you from your work. One of those issues is fraying and with some fabrics that fraying starts right away and moves quickly. Stopping the fraying is one of those distractions as you have to stop your work and deal with this issue.

If you have a sewing machine, this is not a hard task to do. Just use the machine and sew the edge right away to make sure you do not lose any fabric. Or hand stitch a hemline in place to make sure the cotton material stays where it is supposed to.

To learn more about stopping cotton materials from fraying as you work, just continue to read our article. It has the tips you need to both avoid the issue and to solve it when it happens. It only takes a few minutes to get those tips.

Does Cotton Fray?


Yes, cotton can fray and it is usually those cotton fabrics that have been woven that are the usual suspects. If you are working with lightweight cotton weaves then fraying is basically inevitable.

If you are not sure what fraying is, and this is for those single fathers who have to do some sewing or a beginner learning a new skill, fraying is simply loose threads coming unraveled as they get cut.

How fast cotton will fray depends on the type of weave that was used to create the material. A tight weave will fray slower than a loose one. Then the amount of wear and tear the fabric endures each time it is worn plays a role in how fast the threads will come loose.

While fraying can be seen as a positive, like for denim clothing, it is not desirable when you are trying to put together a very nice sheer or lightweight gown or another clothing item. It is frustrating to have to deal with fraying constantly when there is work to be done.

Will Cotton Fray if Cut?

Yes, cotton will fray if cut. How much it will fray depends on the tightness of the weave and if the material is a very lightweight or not. There are ways to cut cotton that will help stop fraying and make it easier to deal with.

The first way would be to use pinking shears. These scissors are designed to cut in a way that discourages fraying or loosening of the fibers. This does not mean that the material won’t fray on you but it will cut it down a lot.

The second way is to use a rotary cutting tool that has a pinking blade. This is a good option to use when you have a lot of material to cut at one time. Pinking shears can be heavy on the hands and if you have a long way to cut, your hand may get sore.

Use a rotary blade to make sure your hand does not get tired out or incapable of continuing your work. Using the right tool for the job saves your body from wear and tear and makes the task go smoother and easier.

How To Stop Cotton Fabric From Fraying


One good method has already been mentioned and that is to cut the material with pinking shears or to use a rotary cutter with a pinking blade. Those two options work well but will not put an end to fraying, unfortunately. It just slows it down in some parts.

If you do not own a set of pinking shears or rotary cutter that has a pinking blade, then you can use an overcast stitch to stop fraying. You can do the overcast stitch by hand or sewing machine, whichever method you prefer, and is easiest for you.

This option works best on cotton material that is thicker than normal. Next, you can do a French seam and so the wrong sides of the fabric together. There is some work involved and a full tutorial will come at another time.

Then there is the zig-zag stitch. It works wonders when stopping materials from losing their threads. This option is best for cotton materials so you may want to try this one first.

Then if you own one, you can serge as you sew. Sergers are great for helping you avoid fraying. These machines cut the excess material off and sew the hem at the same time. Then if you are not skilled enough to do those methods or you do not own a serger, you can try the following methods to stop fraying.

These methods mean interrupting your sewing to get them applied to the fabric but that is better than seeing the material come apart when you haven’t even worn the outfit yet.

1. Bias tape- once you have cut the material, cover the edge with this version of tape to seal those loose threads in place.

2. Fusible interfacing- you can iron on some appropriately sized fusing to make sure the edges stay together until you are ready to sew the hem.

3. Fabric glue- this is easy to apply and can seal the edges of your fabric to let you work on other parts of your sewing project. This material should let you hem when you are ready to hem.

How To Hem Cotton Pants or Shirt

Here are some instructions on how to handle this task:

1. Determine how wide or narrow you want the hem.

2. Next, mark the hem where you want it to lie. Use a basting stitch or pins.

3. Sew the hem or use interfacing to seal the hem in place without sewing.

It is not that hard to sew a hem what makes it hard is the type of hem you need to sew if it is curved or straight. But before you do your hemming, here are some tips that are important to apply to your hemming time:

1. Do the hem last unless you are doing pleats, then hem before you do the pleats.

2. Measure twice then cut. Make sure to mark accurately then cut precisely. If you remove too much fabric you cannot replace the material.

3. When using lining, cut an inch short of the main fabric.

4. Let the dress or pants, etc. Hang for 24 hours before you do the hem. This makes sure you have an even hemline.

5. Have someone help you mark the hemline. This means you need to wear the dress, etc., to get the right spot and an even look.

6. Finish the edge of the material by using any one of the following options: Pinking, overlock, zigzag, piping, lace trim, or tape.

7. When you have a lot of fabric that is more than the hemline, e.g. an A-line silhouette or circle skirt, ease the fullness of the fabric first to match the hem’s width. A basting stitch line should help you with that.

8. When you are making alterations to an existing hemline, make sure to remove the previous stitches and thread This will give you a professional look when you are done sewing.

9. If you can, use cardboard to make a hem template. This will speed up marking and sewing the hem.

10. If you are working on thin or drapery materials use interface for the hem.

How To Finish Cotton Rope Ends


Finishing a nylon rope end is simple and easy. All you need is a match or lighter and let the flame melt the nylon fibers together. Simple, quick, and efficient. Handling cotton rope is not going to be so simple but it is not that difficult to do.

One method would be to place a little tape just below where the rope end has started to fray. Then wrap some twine or string around the rope just below the bottom edge of the tape.

Once that is done secure the twine and when cut the frayed end off at the lower portion of the tape. The end should be finished.

Some people may not go to all that work. They normally just tape below the fray to keep the end nice and small and then cut the frayed part off and forget about wrapping the twine or string around the rope. They need small ends for their sewing projects and this cuts the bulk the twine will add to the rope.

Other Methods Are:

1. Tie a knot a couple of inches below the fray and forget about the end.

2. Back splice the rope- this makes a small lump at the end of the rope and you can secure it by sewing some saddle string through the end and slit braid the string.

3. Whip the end with waxed linen or nylon rope.

4. Back slice a loop if you want to do the work.

How do You Hem Cotton Knitting?


Here are some methods you may have heard about or even tried. But for those who haven’t there are simple steps to take to get the job done:

1. Hem with fabric- first, you cut 1/2 inch strips from the same material you are making the outfit. The stretch has to go the long way. Second, lay the strips where the hem is supposed to go.

Third, fold the fabric up 1.2 inches to close off the strips. Fourth, pin and press then sew with a twin needle. Don’t forget to tie off the ends

2. Hem with soft stretch- 1. cut the soft stretch to the length you need. 2. put the material in place and press for only 5 seconds. 3. let cool before pulling the backing off. 4. fold up the fabric and press for 20 seconds. 5. sew with twin needles and tie the ends

Pros And Cons of Knit Hemming Methods

1. Knit hem


  • Nothing else is needed
  • Free
  • Fast
  • Can control hem depth


  • Tunneling
  • Wonky seams
  • Needs pinning

2. Fabric facing


  • Inexpensive
  • May prevent tunneling
  • Fast
  • Control hem depth


  • Extra task to cut out
  • Wonky seams possible
  • Needs pinning
  • Hems can stretch out
  • Can make seam bulky

3. Soft stretch


  • Prevents tunneling
  • Prevents stretching
  • No pins
  • Invisible
  • Crisp hem


  • Adds to your costs
  • Need to iron first
  • More work and time involved
  • Tape determines hem depth

How To Stop Cotton Webbing From Fraying


You may run into this issue with different types of ribbon. Nylon ribbon is easy to stop the fraying. Just like nylon rope you just need a little time and a good solid flame. But cotton will burn on you so do not use a lighter, candle, match, or any type of flame when stopping the fraying edges.

The best way to stop cotton webbing from fraying would be to use nail polish. Make sure to use clear and not a color of nail polish unless you are trying to be creative and make a nice special design of the webbing.

Or you can use Fray Check which is similar to nail polish. It goes in the same way as well. Or you can use fabric glue, fabric tape, or iron on fusible to seal the edges and stop the threads from coming loose.

Some Final Words

Cotton will fray on you and how you handle this issue will influence how your sewing project turns out. Use any of the methods described above to help make your sewing time go smoother and faster.

The method you use will depend on the quality of the cotton and if it is a thick, thin, lightweight, or heavyweight. With all the choices available, you should not have too much trouble finding the one that fits you best.

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