Subtitle: How to sew up edges that won't fray, even if you don't have a serger.
Don't you hate it when you're trying out something new and the instructions call for some expensive tool or machine that 1) you don't already own, 2) you don't have the money to buy or 3) you wouldn't have room for even if someone gave it to you, because your craft room/closet/under-bed storage has reached its carrying capacity.
Well, I may not be able to suggest an alternative to a kiln, but I can help you if you happen to be serger-less.
Option 1- Overcasting Stitch
First of all, you may actually have access to serger-like capabilities even if you don't own one. Check the owner's manual on your sewing machine. Look under the O's. Do you see the word Overcast? If you do, you've hit the jackpot. This finishes seams just like a serger. Well, close enough.
When I first discovered this stitch on my machine, I called Jeff squealing, "Holy crap, do you realize that my sewing machine can make stitches that look. just. like. a. serger!?"
As I believe I've mentioned before, I am easily impressed.
Option 2- French Seam
No overcast? That's OK. You can try a French seam. It only works on straight seams that don't have any fiddley bits (as far as I've been able to figure out), but it's fairly easy. It also makes the inside of the seams actually look nice.
Note- The following explanation of French Seams has the added benefit of containing a Don't Do What Donnie Don't Does. I realize we haven't had one of those in awhile. It's not because I haven't been making mistakes, but more likely because I haven't been paying attention and therefore haven't even noticed them.
It's nice when I can be a cautionary tale.
-With wrong sides facing (yes, you heard me, put the right sides out), sew a straight seam. I did a nice little 1/8th inch seam thinking that I could skip the next step. You, however, should probably go ahead and do a 1/4 inch seam.
(Do you see those little frayed threads sticking out on the right? You need to give yourself room to cut them off because they are bad news if they're still there by step 5.)
-Cut your 1/4 inch seam allowance down to 1/8 inch. (I don't have photos of this because, you know, I didn't do it. You might want to, though. I'm just sayin.)
-Iron the seam allowance to one side like in this nifty series of photos. Doing it this way really helps it to lie flat.
-Bring the right sides together and iron flat. Pin.
-Sew another 1/4 inch seam, enclosing the first seam allowance within.
-Hopefully you don't have a bunch of stubbly threads hanging out the right side of the seam.
Option 3- Straight Stitch + Zig Zag = Squint Your Eyes and It Kind-of Looks Like it was Serged.
OK, it doesn't really look like it was serged, but it isn't going to fray all to hell. And it works on any type of seam (unless you'll be needing to iron the seam allowance open).
-Run a straight seam. I did a 1/4 inch, but it really didn't need to be that big.
-Inside the first seam allowance, run a fairly wide zig zag seam, letting the right edge of the stitch fall off the right edge of the fabric.
-The fabric will curl on itself just a bit as you sew, which is OK. No, really. It's OK.
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