There are two kinds of people in this world – those who love denim fringe and those who don’t! Seriously though, there is a time and place for fringe. It is okay on your summer cut-offs, but not necessarily appropriate in the workplace, depending on your dress code. (Where I work, we can have fringe, but not holes.)
Maybe you’ve cut off some jeans that were too long, or trimmed denim jacket sleeves that were too long. Whatever your situation, if you need to keep fraying from happening, there are several easy ways to do it.
Related: Ripped Jeans Rip Too Much? Here’s How To Fix Them
How To Stop Jeans From Fraying More Than They Already Have
If you need to shorten a pair of jeans (or the sleeves from a jean jacket), trim them an inch longer than needed to allow you room to hem them. Sewing a hem is easy. If you can make a running stitch, you can do this by hand. An easier method is to hem on the sewing machine if you have one. Choose a thread color that matches (or closely matches) the color of the denim.
If you decide to hem, zig zag stitch around the cut edges of both jeans legs (or arms if it’s a jacket). This stitch acts like a serging stitch, which keeps the inner edge from fraying after you stitch the seam in place. Fold the ends underneath and stitch them in place using a ½ inch seam allowance.
You can keep the original seam of the hem if you like having the original stitches there. This is an easy fix and you can either leave the excess fabric that you stitch on the inside, or cut it away. If you choose to cut it away, you will want to finish the inside cut edges so that they will not fray. Use the zig zag stitch in those instances, or use the great liquid product below that is designed to hold fraying down.
If you don’t want to sew the hem, use heat-bonded adhesive hemming tape. Heatn Bond, Stitch Witchery, and Wonder Under are all reliable brands to use. Follow the directions on the product packaging. Depending on the width of your hem tape, you may have to allow for a wider seam allowance. Check the tape’s width before you make those cuts. An added benefit of using hem tape is that the adhesive helps hold the edges in place to prevent additional fraying in the future. No need to zig zag those edges if you are using hemming tape.
If you want a unique hem that will stop your jeans from fraying, start with the zig zag stitch to secure the edges, then stitch on top a ball fringe, rick rack, or some other trim. You can also use binding tape to set a contrasting edge on your pants legs. Follow the package directions and you will also secure the edges by the tape without having the extra step of zig zagging the edges.
There’s something sweet about the mix of denim with eyelet lace. Eyelet in a wide width can lengthen a pants leg if you ever accidentally trim too much away. To add eyelet to your cut offs, finish the denim’s edge with a zig zag, then attach the lace to the right side of the jeans using a running stitch.
If you want a home-made look, finish the edges of your cut jeans using three strands of embroidery floss to make a blanket stitch along the edges. For even more decoration, embroider French knots or flowers above the blanket stitch.
My favorite anti-fray solution is Dritz Fray Check. Run a small bead of the liquid around the edges of the cut denim to stop fraying. This product is especially handy if the fray you want to stop is from worn hems of your favorite jeans. If the hem of your jeans is starting to look stringy, trim those stray threads away, then apply the Fray Check. The product lasts wash after wash, but it does not hurt to keep a bottle or two in your sewing room in case you need to reapply it. Fray Check is so versatile, too. I use it on all my embroidered applique projects.
Tips for Controlling Frays
- If you want more frays, wash and dry cut seams a number of times. (This is the principle behind rag quilting.) The cuts get fluffier with each wash. If you don’t want fluffy edges, you need to either hem or use an anti-fray product.
- If your cut denim edges are stretchy, like in jeggings, use the zig zag stitch to finish the edges. Fold it, then use a zig zag again for the finishing hem stitch to allow the fabric to remain stretchy.
- If you want to match the color of the original hem, look at embroidery floss if you cannot find the matching thread. Use two strands of floss to hand hem and get the color you want.
- If you want to temporarily tame a few frays on your jeans, spray a little hairspray on your fingers, then rub it along the fraying area. You can likewise dab on a little clear nail polish (but go light on it, or it will dry shiny).
- Double-sided hemming tape really works. Use a heavier weight version for your denim needs. Lightweight might pull apart if you use it on a heavier fabric like denim.
- If you are not into hemming, you can cuff your denim. Finish the cut edge with Fray Check or a zig zag stitch, then roll up about an inch, then up another inch. This works well on jacket sleeves, too. To keep the cuffs in place, make a couple of discrete stitches on the inner seam. You can also use decorative pins to hold them in place. You can also stitch buttons through all the cuff layers to add decoration and to hold the cuffs in place.
- If your iron-on hem tape is too wide for the hem you have already cut, cut the hem tape down to fit. Start by cutting the length you will need, then cut the width down to size.