Selvages are those colorful finished edges you find on woven fabrics—a curiosity to some, and a source of inspiration to others. As sewers, we often hate to waste any little bit of fabric, and saved selvages can become the beginning of some fun projects.
Just what is the selvage? It’s information for the fabric printer, showing the colors used in the print (those cute little circles or other shapes), and the fabric name, brand, style number and designer. The printer uses the dots to check alignment of the screens and for color matching.
These colorful edges should be trimmed when you are cutting pieces for your original project. Save a stash and sew them together to create “new” fabric.
The easiest way to sew them together is to stitch them to a backing like a lightweight fusible interfacing. Trim the selvages evenly and fuse in place before stitching the edges. If you overlap the edges, you can simply use a straight stitch to hold them in place, otherwise use a narrow zigzag to secure the edges. Sewing selvages together without a backing is possible, but it can lead to distortion in the finished piece as the narrow strips tend to become stretched as you join them.
Use decorative threads and decorative machine stitches to add some pizzazz to your yardage making efforts. Metallic adds elegance, rayon machine embroidery threads add sheen, or if you want the stitching to disappear, use invisible thread or all purpose thread in a matching color.
Once you have finished selvage “yardage”, you can use it for any kind of project you like—from quilt blocks to wallets, totes, etc.
You can even cover shoes with selvages—just use Modge Podge to attach the strips as you shape them to the shoes. Then add a finishing coat to protect them once the shoes are completely covered and dry.
TIP: Did you know that there are two acceptable spellings? The word can be selvage or selvedge.
Here are some more inspirational projects from the book, “Modern Selvage Quilting” from C & T Publishing.
About the Author
Linda Griepentrog is a writer, editor and designer who lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband (a long arm quilter) and dog, Frank. She loves all things fabric! Linda also leads fabric shopping tours to Hong Kong. Contact her at email@example.com.