Thursday, March 30, 2017

When Can I Use the Selvage Edge?

As part of an effort to bring clarity to quilters who need more information, here is my first post about some of the little things that many quilters take for granted. Eventually this post will be part of a "Page" on the blog devoted to tips and tricks and some of the basics that we sometimes forget. I've got plans for posts (pages) on straight of the grain and bias (among others) planned as well. As usual, your suggestions and comments are welcome.
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The selvage edges of fabric are sometimes printed, as in this example, and sometimes not as in most batiks. Nevertheless, you should cut them off and not use them in your patchwork piecing. They don't always press flat, and they often pucker and tighten when washed, meaning what they are sewn to doesn't lay flat. They are often thicker to sew through, and longarm quilters often have difficulty quilting through them.

Even though it may be tempting to leave the selvage intact when you are piecing the backing of a quilt, it's best to remove them. I often piece two long lengths of fabric together, matching the selvage edges, but I sew a 1-1/2" seam, using the selvage edge as a guide, and then I cut the selvages off before I press the seam open.


A few years ago using the selvages, particularly those with colored selvage dots, was all the rage.

Unless you plan to show them of like this, don't use the selvage in your patchwork.

5 comments:

Quiltdivajulie said...

I've used selvages to make placemats, mug mats, a couple of quilt tops (heavy but cool), and I love and use often the black and white selvage tote bag that you custom made for me.

Nancy J said...

Love the bag, but I always trim mine off before cutting, and when my Mum was a dressmaker, before the days of even a zig-zag, and definitely no over-locker, the selvage was always left on, but clipped a lot, so it would not pucker.Or she would have to do a fell seam, or turn it back on the inside. or use pinking shears. How things change, and now there are designs that use only selvages.

Margaret Goodman said...

I do cut my selvages off the fabric, but I save them to make crochet "rag" rugs. My maternal grandmother who lived a few blocks from us, and where I spent alot of my time (she taught me sewing, embroidery, crochet, quilting, cooking the old-fashioned way, gardening,etc)never threw out a piece of fabric. She cut strips (even short ones too), sewed them together and crocheted rag rugs. Everyone wanted one of her rag rugs! Selvages are good for this because they are strong and rag rugs made from them will last a long time. I have an old popcorn canister under my sewing table where I store my selvages until ready to use.

patty a. said...

I just finished a quilt and the backing fabric was some African Dutch wax cotton. I had pre washed the fabric and the selvages were nice and flat and very cool! I did exactly what you said not to do! LOL!! I sewed the backing together and never cut off the selvages. If you want to see the back and the close up I took I have pictures on my blog. Go to March 6, 2017. I have been quilting and sewing for a very long time and if the selvages were tight or extra thick I would have cut them off. I think what you are doing is passing on sound advice. Once quilters gain experience and understand the basics, then they can break the guidelines.

Jackie said...

I as well cut my selvage off but like you leave them on if I am joining long strips to help me sew the line straight. I keep them to tie my quilts as I roll my quilts on pool noodles for storing so I don't have creases.