Most woven fabrics -- such as denim, linen and cotton broadcloth -- will fray or unravel along a cut edge unless you act to prevent it. If you want to stop a piece of fabric from fraying while you sew it, if you need to quickly stop fraying edges on a piece of ribbon, or you do not have access to a needle and thread to create a hem, you can prevent fraying by using Super Glue instead.
If you want to avoid fraying fabric edges with no extra work required, use a fabric that does not fray. The raw edges of fleece, knits and felt will not fray when cut.
Determine How to Stop the Fraying
Decide how you would like your final product to look. You may wish to simply stop a few fraying threads, have a clean folded edge or create a double-folded hem.
If you have a piece of fabric with only a few loose threads, or a small fraying edge you want to prevent from unraveling, apply Super Glue directly along the cut edge using a cotton swab or toothpick. This will prevent further fraying. This technique also works well to help prevent sheer or loosely woven fabrics from unraveling as you sew them.
If you are crafting without access to a needle and thread, you may want the right side of your fabric to have a clean folded edge. Begin by measuring how large of a folded edge you would like. Using your tape measure, mark a line along the raw or cut edge that's double the desired width of your folded edge. Carefully fold over the fabric, wrong sides together, so the cut edge touches your marked line. If your fabric is heat-safe, gently press this fold with an iron.
To prevent fraying on an item where both sides of the fabric will be visible, such as a ribbon, you may want to create a double-folded hem. Measure and mark two lines on the raw edge of your fabric -- one line double the desired width, and a second line three times the desired width of your hem. Carefully fold your fabric to the first line, then over again to meet the second line. If your fabric is heat safe, gently press this double fold with an iron.
Use Superglue to Create a Non-Fraying Edge
The Super Glue Corporation recommends using its product Super Glue Future Glue Gel on fabrics. Test a small amount of Super Glue on a piece of scrap fabric -- the glue may be quite visible through thin or sheer fabrics. Testing on scraps or an inconspicuous area will allow you to decide if Super Glue is the right choice for your fabric and project.
Super Glue will be stiff and brittle when dry. If you need your non-fraying edge to remain flexible, other products such as fabric glue, liquid seam sealant, or a fray-stop adhesive can be used instead of Super Glue.
Lay down newspaper or other paper or fabric to protect your work surface from the glue. To stop loose threads from fraying without creating a folded edge, dab a small amount of Super Glue along the bottom of the fraying threads or cut edge. Using a cotton swab or toothpick will help keep your fingers clean. Super Glue is inflexible when dry, so use as little as possible.
If you have marked, folded and pressed a single or double folded edge, carefully place a small amount of glue in a thin line directly above your fold. Refold the fabric, and press lightly to bond it. Super Glue dries and bonds very quickly, so work on only a small section of fabric at a time.
Superglue is incredibly strong, and will quickly bond items together, often drying in only a few minutes. To remove the glue, use a small amount of acetone, the ingredient in most nail polish removers. Take care, though -- acetone may stain or damage some fabrics.
Seal Super Glue
If you used Super Glue to simply stop a few threads from fraying, once the glue is dry you can begin using your fabric as desired. You can speed the drying process and seal the glue bond by using a blow dryer set on low to medium heat.
If you created a folded edge using Super Glue, you can seal the glue bond with an iron. If your fabric is heat-safe, gently press the hem or seam with an iron set on medium-high heat. Do not use steam; this can loosen the glue.
Superglue is safe when used correctly. Carefully read all package instructions before beginning. Work in a well-ventilated area, and keep the glue out of reach of children and pets.