After marking out with chalk the chosen Make/Use garment design, the next step is to pre finish the edges of the garment before cutting out.

Prior to cutting and sewing, the edges of Make/Use garments can be pre-finished, which allows for future modification and the re-setting of the fabric back to flat cloth. As well as the more obvious method of machine sewing, and the less accessible high-tech option of digital embroidery, a much more low-fi, quick and engaging method can be use - hand painting directly onto the fabric with acrylic house paint. In encasing the fibres, the paint provides a flexible and user-friendly edge finishing technique, and can also offer opportunities for personalised decorative mark-making and creation of visual interest through colour selection.

Using a more conventional method such as Bias binding is possible, however the shapes of the edges to be bound make this a difficult process. It is also possible to face the garment, the easiest method is to 'line' it in a copy of itself, however this will alter the behaviour of the fabric and will prevent 'resetting'.

The image shows a digitally embroidered neckline test on silk using silk thread. The four possible necklines on this early test are all pre-finished to enable easy modifications by the user at a later date.


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How to pre-finish your garments

There are three ways MakeUse garments have been pre-finished: digital embroidery, machine stitching and painting.

Digital embroidery
The use of digital embroidery to pre-finish the edges of garments allows for even the novice maker to develop a well resolved garment. Primarily functioning as edging, it can also add to the aesthetic and transform the handle of the fabric. Once the edges are digitally embroidered on the uncut cloth, the maker/user can cut the desired lines to make the garment form.

Machine stitching
Machine stitching involves marking with chalk the cut lines and stitching with a plain stitch or zig/zag/satin stitch the edges either side of the cut line. Once the edges are stitched on the uncut cloth, the maker/user can cut the desired lines to make the garment form they want.


The most DIY of the finishing processes, only requiring a small amount of regular house paint int he desired colour, a paint brush and a steady hand. The paint seals the threads of the fabric arresting fraying, while providing a more stable edge for stitching. Once the cut lines painted on the uncut cloth, the maker/user can cut through the centre of the painted line to make the garment form they want.

Digital Embroidery

You will need: Neckline of your choice, fabric and appropriate backing, access to digital embroidery facilities.

Digital embroidery process is limited by the embroidery bed size you have access to. The simplest areas to digitally embroider are the necklines as they are a descrete 'unit' that will fit in many large embroidery hoops. Other alternatives involving 'tiling' the whole pattern and aligning each tile through the embroidery process so they match up. 

  • Download the required neckline file
  • Design your embroidery
  • Digitise using the software you have access to. 

Notes: Using a satin stitch on the edges of the cut lines will enable the embroidery to arrest fraying, removing the need for any further edge finishing.

Round Neckline
Wide Neckline
Collar Neckline



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Machine Stitching

You will need: Domestic sewing machine with a zig zag stitch, thread of your choice, adhesive tear off embroidery backing if you are sewing light weight fabrics.


  • Select your chosen garment (Tube Dress, Cropped Tshirt etc) and process (pattern/print/template)
  • Mark out the pattern onto your fabric with tailors chalk or similar following the instructions.
  • Stitch either side of the chalk cut lines with either 2 lines of plain stitching, or 1 line of a satin/zigzag stitch, leaving approximately a 5mm gap.
  • Once you have finished finishing the edges you are able to cut the desired lines before stitching your form together.

The stitching lines will arrest fraying but will not stop it completely, the larger the gap either side of the cut line the more the garment edges will fray once cut, however if they are too close it can cause a weak seam or dificulty in cutting between without cutting the stitch line.


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You will need: Acrylic house paint "testpots" (small containers of paint samples) or left over house paint. Paint brush. Fabric of your choice, marked out with chosen garment. Scissors.

Acrylic house paint works really well as a simple and effective DIY edge finishing. You paint it onto your fabric covering the chalk line transferred from the templates or patterns, or paint over the desired cut lines on your print, and then cut through the middle of the painted line to create two beautifully clean finished edges.

  • Select a house paint colour that you feel compliments your fabric. 
  • If you are using a lightweight fabric lay down some card or newspaper under your uncut fabric
  • With the fabric in a single layer, paint over the chalk/printed line using a good quality narrow firm paint brush ensuring a painted line that is approximately 1cm wide. Feel free to paint a much wider line, however much narrower than about 8mm and the edge will be too thin to ensure the edge is stable after you cut it.
  • Wait for paint to dry - or use a hair dryer to speed this process up.
  • Carefully cut in the middle of the painted line so half the painted line is one each side of the cut.

If you are using a heavy weight fabric you may need to paint both sides to ensure it doesn't fray. If this is the case we recommend you paint one side first, cut it, and then paint the other side. 

You can play with the thickness of the paint, heavily applied paint can have a glossy finish, or you could intentionally crinkle the paint finish by crushing the wet painted fabric as it dries. 

You can also use this to finish hems and remove the need to stitch them.

Once dry the painted finish is washable in a normal washing cycle (if you've ever accidentally got house paint on your clothes and let it dry you'll know this!)


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