Tips From the Fringe and Hemmed Edge

Lately, I’ve decided that finishing handwoven projects is not high on the list of many weavers. They enjoy weaving but stumble when it comes to trimming, hemming, and fringing their projects. I see a lot of handwoven projects. I see hems, seams, and more fringe than you can count. I want all projects in Handwoven to look wonderful, so I often find myself trimming fringe ends, clipping weft tails, or picking out machine stitching done in a color that distracts from the beauty of the project. I’ve even retwisted the fringe on scarves. Often the weavers are working against a deadline to get the project to Handwoven for a specific issue so I understand. But to me it’s like eating a delicious dinner over the kitchen sink. After you have spent many many hours designing and weaving a project, spending another hour or two to finish is time well spent.

Here are some tips on finishing:

Plan your finish before you start weaving the body of your project. This is important, and you may even want to include it in your sampling.

  • If you are hemstitching and then twisting fringe using two hemstitched bundles in each group, plan your hemstitching so that you end up with an even number. Sprinkle the “odd” ends among your hemstitched bundles if you need to.
  • Reduce hem bulk by using a thinner thread such as sewing thread or 20/2 cotton for the inner portion.
  • Plan your hems so that they don’t interfere with your design, such as cutting off the last motif rather than serving as a border to your piece.

Be methodical when it comes to fringe.

  • If your warp is a mixture of yarns and you are twisting fringe, wash before twisting so that shrinkage doesn’t distort the fringe. Secure your fringe so it won’t get tangled in the wash with woven scrap yarn headers (zigzagged) or knots.
  • Add weft or warp to your fringe if it looks skimpy or distracts from your design.
  • Using a rotary cutter, self-healing mat, and a ruler, trim your fringe before twisting. Comb and press the ends before trimming.
  • Twist each group with the same number of twists so that they all look the same.
  • Tie the overhand knot at the end of the twist about 1″ from the end to allow yourself enough leeway for making adjustments.
  • Lay the project on a flat surface and adjust knots as needed before using sharp sewing scissors to do a final trim.

You can trim your fringe with scissors but a rotary cutter does a better job of getting it even. Photo by George Boe.

Take advantage of tools and sewing notions when hemming.

  • If you are weaving plain weave hems, weave the inside-hem allowance and then repeat the last pick before starting the under-hem. When the under-hem is done, repeat the last pick again. Those doubled picks make great fold lines.
  • After trimming off the scrap yarn, press the inside-hem under, fold over again and press again. Open up the hem and apply hem tape (fusible or simply adhesive) to the under-hem. Press. Handstitch or machine stitch with matching thread.
  • Whipstitch the gaps on the ends of hems together for a neater finish.
  • Use a walking foot on your sewing machine when hemming so that both layers advance under the needle at the same rate and you don’t end up with “ears” on the ends.
  • When hemming handwovens on the sewing machine, place a small piece of cardboard under the presser foot at the start and end of the hem. That puts the presser foot level with the fabric, preventing it from getting stuck and creating a glob of threads under the fabric.

Bonnie Innouye planned for doubleweave hems on her beautiful silk scarves in Loom Theory 2018. They turn inward so that the scarves although hemmed, are truly reversible. Photo by Caleb Young, Good Folk Photography.

Just as a beautifully set table makes a delicious dinner even more special, thoughtful finishing techniques make a lovely handwoven item that much more beautiful.

Weave well,

Featured Image: Trudy Sonia took great care in twisting the fringe on the Silk Wall of Troy scarf, designed by Laura Fry for Loom Theory 2018: Eight and Over Eight Scarf Collection. Photo by Caleb Young, Good Folk Photography.

Find beautiful projects in Handwoven and Loom Theory 2018, both hemmed and fringed!


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