In the world of sewing and fabric arts, the term “selvage” (sometimes spelled “selvedge”) refers to a crucial and often overlooked aspect of a fabric’s edge. The selvage plays a significant role in the construction and quality of your sewing projects. In this article, we’ll explore what selvage is, why it matters, and how to make the most of it in your sewing endeavors.
1. Understanding Selvage
Here are some key characteristics of selvage:
a. Tight Weave:
Selvage edges are often tightly woven or have a different weave pattern compared to the fabric’s main body. This tight weaving helps prevent fraying and ensures the fabric remains stable during the manufacturing and cutting processes.
b. Often Colored or Branded:
Many fabrics have colored or branded selvage edges. This can include the fabric’s brand name, designer, collection, or even care instructions. These markings can be useful for identifying the fabric, especially when you have multiple fabrics in your stash.
c. Less Stretch:
Selvage edges typically have less stretch compared to the main body of the fabric. This reduced stretch can be advantageous when you want stability in certain parts of your sewing project, such as hems or button bands.
3. Why Selvage Matters
Understanding the importance of selvage in sewing is crucial for several reasons:
a. Grainline Reference:
The selvage edge often aligns with the fabric’s grainline. This is valuable when you need to ensure that your pattern pieces are cut on the straight grain or bias. Cutting along the selvage can help you maintain the fabric’s stability and drape.
b. Minimal Fraying:
Selvage edges are designed to resist fraying, which means they won’t unravel as easily as the cut edges of the fabric. This quality can be especially useful in garments and projects where the fabric’s raw edges are exposed.
c. Design Considerations:
In some cases, the selvage edge is an integral part of the fabric’s design. It may feature a decorative pattern or texture that you can incorporate into your sewing project for added flair.
d. Environmental Benefits:
Using the selvage can be an environmentally friendly choice, as it reduces waste. Instead of trimming and discarding the selvage, you can incorporate it into your project, thereby maximizing the fabric’s utility.
4. How to Utilize Selvage
Now that you understand the significance of selvage in sewing, here are some ways you can make the most of it:
a. Grainline Alignment:
When cutting fabric for your project, align the selvage edge with your pattern’s grainline markings to ensure your pieces are cut on the straight grain.
b. Stabilizing Hems:
Use the selvage as a stable edge for hems, especially in lightweight or delicate fabrics where fraying might be a concern. This can save you the extra step of folding and hemming the fabric edge.
c. Decorative Elements:
Incorporate the selvage into your design by using it as a decorative trim, binding, or even as an accent on pockets or cuffs. The unique texture or patterns on the selvage can add visual interest to your project.
d. Information Reference:
Pay attention to any information printed on the selvage, such as fabric content or care instructions. This can be helpful when caring for your finished project and ensuring it lasts for a long time.
e. Selvage Quilting:
Quilters often use selvage edges to create unique designs and patterns in quilts. These selvage quilts showcase the variety of selvage markings and can be a creative way to recycle fabric scraps.
|Type||Description||Characteristics||Common Uses||Fabric Examples|
|Regular||Standard selvage edge||Often tightly woven||Seams, hems||Cotton, linen|
|Fringed||Features a fringed edge||Adds decorative||Scarves, shawls||Wool, silk|
|Raw Edge||Unfinished, rough edge||Edgy, rustic look||Art projects||Denim, canvas|
|Bound Edge||Selvage wrapped in binding||Neat, reinforced||Quilts, blankets||Upholstery fabrics|
|Colored Edge||Dyed or printed selvage||Adds a pop of color||Fashion details||Printed cotton|
|Standard||Regular selvage width||1/4 inch (6.35 mm)|
|Narrow||Slimmer selvage for delicate fabrics||1/8 inch (3.175 mm)|
|Wide||Wider selvage for stability||1/2 inch (12.7 mm)|
|Custom||Varied widths for unique projects||Varies|
|Double Selvage||Two parallel selvages for added strength||Varies|
|Characteristic||Description||Importance in Sewing|
|Warp Threads||Lengthwise threads in selvage||Reinforce edges|
|Weft Threads||Crosswise threads in selvage||Prevent fraying|
|Clean Finish||Smooth, fray-resistant selvage||Neat seams|
|Grainline Marker||Selvage often marks fabric’s grainline||Ensures fabric’s orientation|
|Salvage Quality||Quality varies based on fabric type||Affects durability|
|Consideration||Description||Factors to Assess|
|Fabric Quality||Selvage quality mirrors fabric quality||Check for flaws or damage|
|Selvage Removal||Sometimes selvage needs removal||Determine if necessary|
|Selvage Direction||Importance of selvage in pattern||Follow pattern instructions|
|Selvage Usage||Utilizing selvage creatively||Explore decorative uses|
|Selvage Color||Coordinating selvage with project||Match or contrast as needed|
|Gentle Handling||Avoid rough handling of selvage edges||Prevents fraying|
|Minimal Cutting||Preserve selvage when cutting fabric||Maintains fabric stability|
|Secure Stitching||Use secure stitches near selvage edges||Prevents unraveling|
|Press, Don’t Iron||Pressing with care, not ironing, near selvage||Maintains edge integrity|
|Avoid Overhandling||Minimize excessive manipulation of selvage||Reduces wear and tear|
In sewing, selvage is not just an afterthought; it’s a valuable resource that can enhance the quality and aesthetics of your creations. Understanding the characteristics and uses of selvage can elevate your sewing skills and help you achieve more professional-looking results in your projects. So, next time you unroll a bolt of fabric, take a moment to appreciate the selvage—it’s more than just the edge; it’s a vital part of your sewing toolkit that can add both functionality and beauty to your work.