Tutorial Tuesday: A Brief Overview of Selvedges

Selvedges... most seamstresses surely know what selvedges are, they are the lengthwise edge of fabrics specially woven not to fray, but why are they there and what can be done with them?

For the word lovers like me, we turn to Wikipedia for a little historical information.   Selvage and selvedge are both proper spellings. Selvage is the American English spelling, while selvedge is British English.   Both words are a 'corruption' of the term 'self-edge', which makes complete sense, and has been used for centuries!  While I am American, personally I prefer, and always use, the British spelling.

For the technical reader who wants to know what and why, here you have it. The woven threads that run the length of fabric are called warp. Threads that go across the width of fabric are weft. Selvedges are defined as the finished edges of fabric that will not fray because the "weft threads are double back on themselves and are looped under and over the warp." 

Selvedges also contain helpful information. Most selvedges tell the fabric collection name, designer, and manufacturer. They also contain circles (or other fun shapes) of color showing each color that was used to print the fabric.

Most often fabrics have one white selvedge with all this fun information while the other selvedge is often printed along with the fabric.

Selvedges typically should not be used in finished garments.  Because they are woven differently than the rest of the fabric, they are often thicker and also shrink differently. Cutting off the selvedges is easy.  They are typically about a 1/2 inch wide.  For the information edge, simply trim along the print and white border.  On the opposite selvedge, flip the fabric to the back side to see where the weave looks different, just inside the row of holes where the loom hooks held the roll of fabric.

Finally, what can be done with those cute, fun strips of selvedge? They are great for making ribbons for pretty packages, or why not try an easy garment tag!  Because they will not fray, treat the selvedge strip as you would a ribbon tag.  Cut about a 1 1/2" strip, fold in half to form a loop and insert the edges into the seam.

Fabric is Best in Show by Maude Asbury for Blend Fabrics
 and was provided to us for promotional purposes
I always add tags to my clothing.  Even if I can easily identify front from back, my children cannot and much appreciate having a tag to help them out!

The Tie Dye Diva Easy Twirl Skirt is  a quick and easy skirt for showcasing fun fabrics like Best in Show by Maude Asbury featuring cute cats and dogs in chic pink, mint and coral.  The Easy Twirl Skirt is one of my go to patterns for a quick birthday gift! But, did you know it is also FREE? That's right, folks.  If you've never tried one of Jen's patterns, download this one now and you will be hooked forever!

Make sure you follow Tie Dye Diva on Pinterest and be sure to especially check out our Free Sewing Tutorials board!  Happy Sewing!

Labels: , , , , , , , ,