Edging Technique for Sewing

by Dawn Rivera
Edging techniques may vary depending upon the application.

Edging techniques may vary depending upon the application.

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Edgings add both finishing and detail to sewing projects. Finishing serves to keep fabric from fraying and gives your sewing projects neatness, polish and style. Edging techniques for sewing vary widely and should suit the application. Soft edgings are good for infants' clothing, which contacts delicate skin. Sturdy edgings on children's clothing hold up through frequent washings. Some edgings require dry cleaning, and others are expected to last through hard use on home accessories and furniture. Handmade edgings add interest and elegance to sewing projects. Consider the edging technique you will use when planning your next project.


A simple hem is the most common technique for finishing fabric. Hems are sewn on a sewing machine or by hand. Hand-sewn hems are often a hallmark of finely made clothing, although machine-made hems are standard on most ready-to-wear fashions. Blind hemmer attachments on home sewing machines allow home sewers to create professional-looking hems. Many sewers simply turn the fabric over twice for a finished hem or face the fabric with bias tape or hem lace.


Hems aren't always appropriate for edges that need finishing. Several techniques are readily applicable for seam edges that need to be finished to reduce fraying or unraveling. French seams are a traditional technique. To make a French seam, sew a narrow seam close to the edge with the fabric with the wrong sides together. Turn the fabric inside out so that the right sides of the fabric are facing, and then sew another seam. This seals the raw edge inside the seam. Encasing raw fabric edges in bias tape or binding is another finishing technique.

Sergers and Overcasting

Serging is a widely used way to edge fabric. Sergers bind and trim the raw edge of the fabric as you sew. Serging is particularly appropriate for knit fabrics to maintain stretchiness along the edges. Contrasting thread adds detail to a serged edge. If you don't own a serger, you can still make an overcast edge by using the zigzag or other specialty stitch on your sewing machine. Use a whipstitch or buttonhole stitch to hand-finish an overcast edge.

Embroidery and Trims

Consider other edging techniques, such as using with specialty fabric glue, fusible tape or webbing. Cut fused fabric with pinking shears or special scissors to leave a design on the fabric edge. The fusible backing prevents fraying. Leave the cut edge as it is, or finish it further with machine or hand embroidery, or a satin stitch. Another technique for edging is to sew or glue a trim onto the fabric edge. Consider such trims as lace, beading or gimp. Crochet is also an interesting way to finish raw fabric edges. Glue or sew premade crocheted trim to your project. If you have crocheting skills, crochet the trim directly on the fabric for attractive, handcrafted edging.


  • "Borders, Bindings & Edges: The Art of Finishing Your Quilt"; Sally Collins; 2004
  • "Easy Sewing the KWIK SEW Way"; Kerstin Martensson; 2002

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images