I have a jacquard satchel. The fabric is very fine, don't know if it is silk or synthetic. Being black and silver, it is hard to photograph well:

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The handles are heavy cord wrapped in the same fabric. The fabric is still intact, with no obvious holes or wear spots beyond the surface. But very fine threads are fraying all over the surface (not just from the seam).

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Larger threads are visible in the picture. There is also a fuzz of micro-threads that don't stand out in the picture.

I want to clean up the loose threads and do something to keep the handles from fraying more.

I can clip or "shave" the handles to remove the loose threads without unraveling anything. But how can I then protect them so they don't continue to fray?

I don't want to radically alter the appearance if possible. I considered some kind of clear coating on the handles, but don't know what would protect the fabric while still being comfortable to hold, and not change the fabric appearance. An additional consideration is that I have no sewing skills, so anything that involves disassembling the satchel would be beyond my abilities.

  • Do these threads come out of the seams or are they just everywhere? If they come from the seam, the fabric might soon unravel enough to not stay sewn together.
    – Elmy
    Apr 2, 2023 at 10:46
  • @Elmy "But very fine threads are fraying all over the surface (not just from the seam)." :)
    – Joachim
    Apr 2, 2023 at 11:14
  • 1
    @Joachim I find that very curious. Usually fraying starts at the place where threats are cut - which is the seam. If these threats are "all over the surface" the fabric might be extremely losely woven (but the neat seams indicate otherwise) or they might actually be damaged from wear and tear (which indicates that it might indeed be silk).
    – Elmy
    Apr 2, 2023 at 11:28
  • @Elmy, there is some fine curly fuzz all over, but the long thin threads mostly come out of the seam. The seam is still tight and the threads are securely held, coming out of the seam and not at the edges of the seam. I get the impression that the threads are not from the (internal) edge of the fabric unraveling. It's more like using the handles has stretched the fabric and caused threads to break on the surface of the handles, with one side of the break still held under the weave and the other side came out of the weave and is still held tight in the seam.
    – Dolly
    Apr 2, 2023 at 17:01

2 Answers 2


The best solution I can come up with involves some hand-sewing.

There are so-called "bias tapes" available in almost all shops that sell fabric or sewing supplies. They usually come in in different materials and widths and usually the sides are folded in towards the center when you buy them. Most importantly, the threads run diagonally through the tape (aka "on the bias"), which makes the tape slightly stretchy and mold itself to curves.

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I would get some single fold bias tape in a shiny black or silver that fits the bag. Chose a width that can wrap around the handles with the sides still folded inwards. If the tape is slightly too narrow, get more than the length of both handles because it can stretch around, but becomes shorter by doing so. If it's slightly too wide, you can stretch it lengthwise, which makes it narrower.

Then simply sew the tape over the existing handles. Fold about 1 cm / 0.5 inch of the tape over so the edge is neat and doesn't have any exposed threads. Take a (preferably long and thin) hand sewing needle and some (preferably synthetic) thread. Start at one end of a handle and stitch a few times through the same spot of the handle to anchor the thread. Then fold the bias tape around the handle with both sides being folded inwards and sew the edges of the folds together. At the other end of the handle, stitch a few times through the handle to anchor the tape again.

It will probably take a while, but in my experience this can be done while watching TV or similar entertainment.

  • Will bias tape stretch 20% or more in width? The circumference of the handles is 1.2" (30 mm). 1" (25 mm) looks like a standard width for the tape, with some color choices in that size. It's also available in 1.5" and larger widths in very limited colors. The wider tape will be easier to work with, but there may not be a good color match available unless I'm lucky.
    – Dolly
    Apr 4, 2023 at 15:24
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    @Dolly If possible, I would visit a local shop that sells bias tape and try it out. I mostly stretched it lengthwise, which reduces the width considerably. I think 20% stretch in width should be doable, but I have no first-hand experience with that and it makes the sewing process more fiddly. You should probably pre-stretch the tape before trying to sew it on.
    – Elmy
    Apr 5, 2023 at 4:50

I guess you cannot really protect the fabric itself easily / beautifully.

I have in mind only one option - to be done by someone with experience:

  1. remove the handles (or at least one end of each);
  2. pull a protective tube over each handle;
  3. reattach the handles.

Step 2 might involve creativity: what material to chose what color etc. If you want to maintain the original appearance of the bag, then have the protective tubes (sheaths) made form some good quality black material. But red or pink will match equally well, if you are so inclined.

A very creative alternative (more like an attempted hack, rather than a solution) is to trim the frays away, and then to "paint" the handles with some kind of flexible glue - in the idea of liquid rubber. However, I do not have the experience with it, and I cannot guarantee that it will save the bag - or maybe just destroy it.

A solution which does not require any special skills is to use a wider ribbon (color of your choice) and just wrap it around the handles. Worst case, you just make knots at the ends to fix it there.

The down side of this solution is that it might be quite short-lived, and therefore you might need to do it repeatedly.

A slight improvement will be to sew through the handles and the ribbon, just enough to not allow the ribbon to unwrap - and thus extending the life of the hack.

  • Some good ideas here. Thanks. The ribbon idea brought to mind black vet or sports wrap, which is self-adhesive, but they aren't designed to be left in place a long time and the adhesive usually doesn't like moisture (plus the spiral wrap wouldn't look great). If I can find a ribbon or fabric that goes with the satchel, maybe I can look at wrapping it like a tube, the same way the handles are currently covered, only made right-side-out. Just need to figure out a way to invisibly seam it. You may be right about no good solution.
    – Dolly
    Apr 3, 2023 at 19:45

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