Let's Talk About Fraying

Thread Technics – Let’s Talk About Fraying

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Have you ever stitched right down to the last inch of thread on your needle? It’s usually not a good idea, but truth is, most of us hate having to stop our stitching, re-thread, then start again. We don’t want to waste thread either . As I was cross stitching this exact way just the other day, I realized I was lucky the thread was behaving. In this picture, notice how nice and clean the thread end is, even though I made many passes through the ground material. By all rights, the thread should be looking more than a little worn by now. Two reasons why it still looks good: ONE: I used a needle with a large-enough eye so that it allowed the thread to pass through smoothly, without struggling. TWO: I used a basic color of Kreinik Very Fine #4 Braid (color 421 Azalea).

Don't do this at home: stitch down to the very tippy thread end.
Don’t do this at home: stitch down to the very tippy thread end.

Some threads aren’t as nice; they ravel quite a bit at the end. In the Kreinik line, our holographic threads fall into this category. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with the personality of the thread, whether it hates you, or whether the universe is testing you that day. It may have to do with the raw material of the thread, and whether it is made of supported or unsupported fibers. (Going to be a little technical here, but I think it will be helpful…)

Unsupported thread may ravel at the ends.
Unsupported thread may ravel at the ends.

Kreinik’s holographic colors, for instance, are made from “unsupported” threads. If you take a look at 002 Gold Blending Filament, you see a thin white thread next to the metallic; this is a supporting thread. Take a look at 002L Chromo Gold Blending Filament, the holographic gold, and notice it doesn’t have a supporting thread. When unsupported threads are made into Kreinik Braids and Ribbons, they don’t have that extra material to “grab.” The supporting thread helps hold it together, even at a cut end. Thread made from an unsupported material, however, is slippery and may ravel. The Very Fine #4 Braid 421 used in the first photo is made from supported threads. So as you are stitching with Kreinik or any other thread, keep in mind that the material of the thread may cause it to fray. Other factors include: ONE: Using a needle that is too small to accommodate the thread. It will squish and struggle through the ground material. I cannot emphasize this enough: using the wrong needle or a damaged needle will ruin a thread. TWO: Using a way-too-long thread length. Eventually the thread will look like it has spent too much time being pulled through fabric, canvas, and other stitches. THREE: Poor quality thread. Cheap stuff is going to behave poorly. What do you do about frayed ends? These solutions have been recommended by stitchers: 1. Use FrayCheck™ on the ends. 2. Use clear nail polish or a dab of clear glue on the ends. 3. Use a Thread Zapper. See Janet Perry’s product review here. 4. Cut the thread on the diagonal rather than a straight-across, blunt cut.

Stitchers recommend techniques for controlling thread ends.
Stitchers recommend techniques for controlling thread ends.

Hopefully this has offered some helpful thoughts and tips on how to handle fraying. Of course, there are times when you WANT the thread to ravel. It creates fur and tassels, for instance. Check out our blog for ideas. If you ever have questions about Kreinik threads, email us at info@kreinik.com, or visit the Education section on www.kreinik.com.


Dena Lenham, aka KreinikGirl, is Creative Director at Kreinik Manufacturing Company, a family-owned, USA-based business that manufactures high-quality yarns and threads made of metallics, silks and real metals from their West Virginia factory.

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