How to Seal Fabric Edges Without Sewing

You’ve finished your craft project and want to stop the fabric from fraying, but also don’t want the hassle of sewing. So, what can you do? Find out some simple ways to keep fabric from fraying and finish with a clean edge.

stop fraying raw edges woven fabrics

Traditionally, if you’ve been sewing a garment you might finish the fabric edges with a seam, serger, zig zag stitch or overlocking machine. These are all tried and tested ways to prevent fraying and keep your garment looking well-made. But what if you don’t want to set up your sewing machine, or you’d like to try out a different method of stopping raw edges from fraying?

Before you decide how you will seal your fabric edge it’s important to consider how it will be used. Sewing edges is the strongest, most durable way to finish a garment. No-sew techniques may not be as long-lasting or secure and therefore aren’t suitable for some projects. But for items that don’t need regular washing or will only be used lightly, there are plenty of sealing the edge of the fabric that don’t require a sewing machine or stitching.

Here are some other techniques you can try easily at home.

how to prevent fabric from fraying

Seal a cut edge with fabric glue

Fabric sealant and fabric glue is a quick and easy way to prevent fraying on your crafting project. Used often to fix sequins and embellishments, while fabric glue is effective it won’t provide significant strength. Avoid using glue to stop fraying if you need the fabric edge to hold fast under pressure. Some fabric sealants are machine washable and marketed as ‘permanent’, so these may provide a more long term fix. Try on a fabric off-cut if you want to be sure.

If your project and fabric is suitable, dab small dots or a smooth line of glue along the clean fabric edge. Press to bind and seal.

Using pinking shears to stop fraying

Most sewers and crafters will have a pair of pinking shears in their toolbox. These zig zag edged scissors will prevent fraying edges on most types of fabrics. Line the shears up as close to the edge as possible, without slipping off the fabric, then cut in a crisp, clean line.

stop fraying fabric edges

Heat seal edges

This method is only suitable for 100% synthetic fabrics as these contain plastic polymers which melt when heated, and so seal the fabric edge. Don’t try to heat seal natural textiles like linen fabric or cotton. You can use a hot tool, a candle or a lighter. Take necessary precautions to prevent a fire and make sure your hands are protected. Do this in a well ventilated space as synthetic fabrics will release fumes when heated.

Place the fabric on a heat-resistant surface, then run the hot tool along the edge. If using a candle, secure the candle firmly then quickly run the fabric edge through the flame – make sure you go quick enough to prevent the fabric burning or getting singed.

Apply some nail polish!

You might have used nail polish to stop your tights or stockings laddering. It works just as well on fabric edges, stopping fraying by coating the raw edges.

Either choose a clear nail polish, or match the colour to your fabric. Apply a thin line along the very edge of the material. Take care not to drop any blobs on the fabric or nearby surfaces. Leave to dry completely before using.

keep fabric from fraying nail polish

Using an iron-on hem tape

This is a quick-fix solution to sealing a cut edge on a finished project. It’s not great on very lightweight, flowy fabrics as it will stiffen the edges. But it’s a handy option for more sturdy materials.

To use, pre-fold the edge of the fabric and iron to hold in place. Lay the iron-on tape alongside the folded edge, choosing a tape that matches the width of the fold. Then fold the fabric over the tape so it’s completely covered. Press with the iron to release the glue in the tape and fuse the fabric edges.

Try some of these techniques to stop your fabric from fraying and ensure your project has a professional, clean finish.

stop fraying without a sewing machine

For tips on choosing fabric for upholstery projects go here, and go here for instructions on how to change a sewing machine needle.

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