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What would be a good darning or embroidery technique for fixing the frayed/missing edges on the sleeves of a machine-knitted cardigan? The cardigan material is 100% wool (see picture below).

Detail of sleeve fraying damage on 100% wool cardigan

I'm aware that techniques exist for using knitting or crochet to fix holes in knitted garments, but I am not skilled in these techniques, whereas I do have experience with embroidery. I am looking for a type of stitch or technique that will:

  • prevent the sleeves from fraying further
  • straighten out the edge of the sleeve so it looks less uneven / ragged
  • Be creative / aesthetically pleasing

My first idea was to use something like a blanket stitch, but I anticipate that this will preserve the ragged edge to the sleeve, as in the image below:

Estimate of how a blanket stitch would look along the edge of a frayed sleeve

I am looking for a technique that would 'fill in' the missing material, similar to darning. However, most examples of darning I can find work with a hole that is surrounded by material, whereas I want to fill in a missing edge:

enter image description here

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I know this is not an embroidery solution per se, but what about binding the edges of the sleeve with something like a light weight felt (use real wool felt, not the kind you played with as a kid), and sewing the binding in place using a saddle stitch?

If you are concerned about losing the elasticity in the cuffs, you could also use knit bias tape, which should allow you to retain some of the stretch.

I am still hunting for a picture that shows something similar to what I am imagining. If I find one, I will add it.

In the meantime, hunting for photos led to another possibility when I stumbled on this picture:

enter image description here

Obviously that is a lot more embroidery than you are talking about--but what if you did some sort of embroidered embellishment around the sleeve edges to disguise the uneven edges?

Before starting either of these options, I suggest sewing a line of stay stitching about 1/2 inch from the cuff edges to help prevent additional raveling. If you have access to a sewing machine, I would use that, as it will be more consistent, but you could also use a line of running stitches done by hand to accomplish the same thing.

ETA: Still no pictures of a bound sleeve, but here is another idea. What about using a beaded blanket stitch, something like this:

enter image description here

The beads will be irregular anyway, so the unevenness of the edge should be much less noticeable. I would use larger beads and a heavier thread/embroidery floss.

Still not able to find a picture of exactly what I am talking about, but I did find a picture of a similar type of treatment that could also work. This woman was sewing a boiled wool jacket (you can find her blog entry here), and wanted to add some embellishment to the sleeve cuffs. So, she cut a strip of fabric the correct length to go around the cuff and used decorative stitches to topstitch the new fabric to the outside of the jacket cuff. Because boiled wool/felt won't ravel, you don't have to worry about the edges of this additional piece. You could do something similar with your sweater cuffs-creating an outer cuff of felt and attaching that to the outside of your sweater cuffs to hid the raveled edges.

enter image description here

protected by Community Nov 8 '17 at 13:43

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