Notice threads on the white fabric? This will be visible after quilting if not removed.

Have you ever started quilting and noticed these ugly dark shadows under you light fabric. They are usually threads that naturally fray after cutting and sewing, but when they find their way under your nice light colored fabric, they can mar all of your hard work on a quilt.

So how do you deal with these? I have a multiprong attack. First, I have noticed that more fraying occurs with lower quality fabrics. Thus, paying more for quality is worth it.

Second, I have noticed more fraying after washing. Therefore, I generally choose not to pre-wash my fabrics in general (I do make exceptions for RED!).

Some people may recommend using a fray check, but I find that it is expensive (you need a lot of it) and can leave the fabric brittle. So I avoid fray check unless absolutely necessary. Instead, I use spray sizing, which will stiffen the fabric a bit and minimizes fraying. Keep in mind, this one of the things you are removing when pre-washing your fabric….It also wears off after a lot of handling, so minimize the handling of your quilt after sizing. There is a catch. Too much sizing can leave the fabric too stiff and can flake. Balance is the key here.

Quilt top draped over bottom pole for trimming

Next, I use my longarm to help me trim threads. Most longarm quilt machines are loaded so with the backing facing down and the top facing up, so you can’t see the frayed threads. I load my backing in the correct fashion. However, when I load my quilt top, I lay it backside facing up over the backing pole rather than frontside facing up over the take-up pole (see photo). Normally, the top would drape to the right (take-up pole). Mine drapes to the left (backing pole). This way, I can trim the offending threads and remove any other unwanted guests like my hair, dog hair, lint, etc. as I roll the quilt onto the top pole. This catches the majority of the little buggers.

Occasionally, there will be a thread the dislodges despite these best efforts. In this case, it is time for surgery. I use Angela Walters’ trick – use a pin to loosen the threads over the offending thread. then, use a very small crochet hook (Size 9 or 10 works best) and fish the thread out from under the quilt top. It is like playing operation when you were a kid. Thankfully, there is no annoying buzzer or red light. Well, except maybe a slight curse from me when I miss the thread and have to try again….

I hope this tip helps you. If you have other tips, please post them in the comment section. Everyday is a learning adventure, let’s learn together!

Happy Quilting