I would like to cut letters INTO a piece of cloth, but - I would like to "fold" the inside edge under itself to make a nicer edge, (perhaps helping prevent it from unravelling/tearing in the future ...).

But, when you fold the fabric under itself, you either have to cut slits into it, creating a tear vulnerability, or - you create folds into the fabric ...

Is there a best way for sewing up "cut-outs", (the shapes or letters you cut INTO fabric)? Or, maybe - Is there any way to create the "folds/wrinkles" evenly?

Please help reword this if you know the proper terms that I am missing!


3 Answers 3


Here are some additional details on the sewing and gluing methods mentioned in my first answer:

Sewing a Satin Stitch either by hand or by machine: a satin stitch is lots of horizontal stitches (vs. vertical) all very close together.

enter image description here

Here is a YouTube video showing both methods of satin stitching, by hand and by machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eTurIxJlFg

Note: the video shows how to sew (fasten) cut out letters onto another piece of fabric; you are cutting out your letters from the piece of fabric.

Satin stitch along the outline of your letters before you cut the letters out.

enter image description here

Using Fabric Glue (one brand is Fray Check): use the fabric glue bottle like a pen, squeeze a thin line along the outline of your letters.

Let the glue dry for about 15 minutes, and then cut your letters out.

Note: I’m not sure what the iron is for (the advice you got at the store). You don’t need to use an iron with a fabric glue.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your project!

  • Abbie - Thank you again. Is the satin stitch a good choice for this? Any better alternatives? Thank you very much again - I changed the accepted answer to this one! Aug 23, 2017 at 6:58
  • @magerber thank you - you always make everything better! :-)
    – user1798
    Aug 23, 2017 at 15:22
  • @elika kohen what are you making? Will you use a sewing machine or stitch by hand? Will the item be laundered and/or get a lot of use, or will it simply be decorative? All of these would be good to know in order to answer your question! Sounds like a fun project either way :-)
    – user1798
    Aug 23, 2017 at 15:27
  • I am just trying to cut out letters for a quilt... and then put patchwork quilt behind the empty cut-out spaces. I am hoping to make weighted, quilted, blankets (with beads for weights, and letters for names, or some-such). Aug 23, 2017 at 18:45
  • @elikakohen in that case, I'd suggest looking up "reverse applique" - I think the general techniques have been covered here, but you should be able to find some tutorials and examples for quilting by searching for that.
    – user812786
    Aug 24, 2017 at 11:45

Abbie's answers are great and should work! However I wanted to provide a couple other options.

Folding the edges under

It can work. When you cut out your letters, add a seam allowance to all edges. Clip the curves and cut the corners with nice sharp scissors, then fold under and stitch.

Clipped corners, done properly, shouldn't fray a lot. A crisp cut will give the fabric flexibility to fold under neatly, and you can roll it a tiny bit more to hide the clipped spot. However, you can always add a dot of fray check to the clipped points if you are worried about it.

Make a facing

The preparation is similar to folding the edges under, except you are attaching a separate piece of fabric to the edges and folding that under instead. To do this:

  1. Before cutting, add seam allowances to the edges of the letters
  2. Do the cutouts along the edges (with seam allowance added), both on your visible layer of fabric, and on the facing fabric (will end up on the back)
  3. Sew the facing to the front along the cutouts, right sides together
  4. Clip facing, turn, press; optionally topstitch along openings

You can finish the edges of the facing fabric however you like since they won't be visible. However, this technique wouldn't work well with sheer or thin fabrics, as the facing could add visible bulk. This will also mean the finished piece is not reversible.

Bind the edges

Get or make some binding, depending on if you want it to match or contrast. Woven binding tape is cut on the bias, which allows it to stretch a little around curves. However, on corners you will either have to make miters or folds. It can be tricky to apply properly, so you may want to practice first if you haven't worked with binding before. This will add a little bulk on the edges and (if you are careful with your stitching!) can result in a reversible piece.

  • +1 These are also incredible ideas.. I think I am going to do a few proof of concepts with the different techniques and figure out which I can do the easiest. :) That facing idea is great! Thank you! Aug 23, 2017 at 18:48
  • @elika If you do let us know how it works out, it'd be neat to see a direct comparison!
    – user812786
    Aug 23, 2017 at 19:02
  • 2
    Now that we know you are making something as lovely & time intensive as a quilt, I would not have suggested the Fray Check option! For something this special, I think either the satin stitch edge -you can use glossy topstitching sewing thread or DMC embroidery floss (thread), both are available at Joann's- or use the great ideas from @whrrgarbl. Another idea is to satin stitch the outlined letters on the letter fabric to the quilted fabric before you cut the letters out. Just be careful when cutting out the letters not to cut through to the quilted fabric underneath. Good luck!
    – user1798
    Aug 23, 2017 at 20:06

It is very difficult to cut out the letters and fold the edges under as you describe. The first reason is as you state, you will likely have either wrinkles or slits that can fray. The second reason is the shape of the letters as you have cut them will likely change once you start folding under the fabric.

One way to accomplish what you want is to trace the letters in the size you want (not adding any material for folding under), and then machine stitch around the tracing. Most sewing machines have basic decorative stitches that you could use, even just a small zig-zag stitch might work. Then cut the letters out.

Another way would be to trace your letters with Fray Check (fabric glue) which you can find online or in fabric stores. Once it dries, cut out the letters along the sealed edges.

  • I just got back from Joanne's (fabrics?), and they said pretty much the same exact thing you just said, though they mentioned a "Satin Stitch", but - they all seemed to agree about the sealant/glue that you can iron the cloth over, to stop the edges from fraying, and to stop that slit from tearing further. Thank you very much. I am not exactly certain how to apply the stiches or that glue, but I think this is the right direction. Accepted and +1. Thank you! Aug 22, 2017 at 21:10

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