The following suggestions are very conservative and cautious. It seems safest to list many things that a stitcher might want to be aware of. You are then free to use or ignore whatever you choose.
Trim off any selvage edges. Some people recommend stitching on a project so that the warp threads go from top to bottom, with the selvage at the side. See section "31.1 Warp and Weft and Why and Why Not" for a more detailed explanation of how you determine the selvage, and why you may want to do so.
Cut the fabric to size for the project. Allow an extra 3" to 4" on each edge.
Pre-rinse very dark or very red fabrics to make sure the colour will not run. Rinse until the water is clear. Obviously, you should not do this if you know the fabric was dyed with a non-colourfast dye.
If there are folds, make sure they will come out. Rinse and/or press the fabric.
Prepare the edges to keep them from fraying. Some of the options:
- Use a sewing machine to do a zigzag stitch.
- Use a serger to serge the edges.
- Fold the edge of the cloth over and baste it by hand.
- Do a whipstitch by hand, to overcast the edges.
- Use Fraycheck or masking tape, but then allow another half inch (1/2") all the way around so you can cut off the chemically tainted fabric when you are through stitching. Chemicals of any sort may cause deterioration years later.
- Let them fray. Many fabrics will only fray a small amount. If the fraying doesn't bother you, just let it happen.