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Sewing with Selvages

Have you noticed how pretty the selvages on your fabrics are? A selvage is the finished edge of fabric, and it is tightly woven which means it does not fray. It runs the entire length of the fabric bolt. Selvages are very handy! Information is usually printed right along that edge. This can include the fabric designer, the company, and the name of the print or line. This makes it easy to identify the fabric. Sometimes the selvage also features a line of circles that include all of the colors in that fabric to help you choose coordinating colors.


Many people consider selvages to be garbage, cutting them off and throwing them away without a second thought. Did you know that you can sew with them? Think twice before you throw those pretty edges away! You can use your selvages to make unique projects.

star quilt
Photo via Twin Fibers

Here are a few tips for collecting and sewing with selvages:

  1. Before you start cutting into your fabric for your next project, cut your selvages off so that they are at least 1-2 inches wide. That way not only will you see your selvage, but also a bit of that pretty fabric.
  2. Store them in a clear container in a visible place. I like to keep mine in a tall Mason jar on my shelf; that way I’m reminded to sew with them!
  3. Before sewing with your selvages, be sure to starch and press them well. They can be pretty wavy, but a good press should take care of it.
  4. A fabric foundation base works perfectly when sewing selvages together. This allows the woven edge to remain fully exposed while keeping the selvage strips from distorting. Muslin works great for this, but you can also use whatever quilting cotton scraps that you may have laying around. Just be sure that the foundation fabric doesn’t show through the selvage strips.

selvage pillow

You can make so many things with your selvages! Bags, zipper pouches, pin cushions, quilts of all sizes, and more! Sometimes I like to use the selvage edge as part of my envelope pillow backs. That way I have a fun finished edge that requires no hemming. Here is an example!

selvage pieces

Need more inspiration? Check out these pincushions by Live a Colorful Life and these string quilts by Quiltville! Are you ready to get sewing? Start small with a pincushion or a snack mat. If you are looking for a tutorial, head on over here to learn the basics on sewing with selvages while making a functional mug rug. For more fun with scraps check out the online Craftsy class Scrap Quilting: Big Techniques from Small Scraps.

Come back to the Craftsy blog tomorrow for fun tips on organizing your quilting projects from start to finish.



wow, great idea. i agree that those selvages on fabric look really cute.


Who would of thunk! What an awesome idea. I will definately look at selvedges differently from now on.


What a great idea, you don’t realize how very pretty the selvages edges are on fabric. Love this and I’m going to try this also. Thanks.


I’ve been collecting selvedges for a while now and this blog has just inspired me to have a go at a small project 🙂


Wow!! all I can think about is how many of them I put in the garbage over the past 50 years!! I will save them now!!!

Jessie Parris

Cannot tell you how happy I was when I saw this article! I love to quilt and am retired with a limited income to be able to buy new fabrics. Your idea lets me use every bit of material that I have and waste nothing. Thank you so much.


Love this. You guys have amazing ideas.


I love this post and I have used selvage in some projects in the past. It always leaves me wondering if I’m the only one who will get it. I hate to waste any of the material. Great post and tips.


I have also saved the selvages but only cut off about 1/2 inch. Would still like to use what I have. Any ideas for projects with these narrow strips? Thank you.


I’d probably fuse them on to muslin and zig zag with invisible or crazy colored thread.


Amazing what creative minds can think of!! Will definitely start saving my salvages


I have made many projects using the selvages, just finished the cutest Peek a Boo bag ever! but, look on some manufacturers edges and they have small images instead of the dots. I have found trees, dogs, various flowers, berries. Such a surprise when looking at the finished project to find them.


I have used the selvedges in the past on potholders and mug rugs but you have shown me new ways to use them. Thanks! I love them…


Thanks for the great ideas. I’ve been saving my salvedges for quite some time. Keeping them from turning into a rats nest is really easy if you roll-up the strip and anchor it with a pin. I then store them in a clear plastic jar. You can see the colors that are there easily and you don’t have to re-iron them when you need them — you just unroll them and start sewing.

Deborah Moore

Good ideas although, I thought about going to second hand stores. Such a variety of colors. Look in the sale areas, I saw the ugliest long dress, for $1.99. So much material. After all isn’t thats what started quilting long ago? Go green no doubt.

Virginia Lawhorne

Since I hate to throw away ANY kind of fabric, I was looking for a way to use the selvages from the quilt I just finished. Your site popped up. Great ideas! Now I know what I am going to do! Thanks!


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