The finished edge of fabric is called a selvage, or selvedge. The term dates back to the 1500s and has developed over the centuries from the term “self edge.”
If you are sewing or quilting, you need to trim the selvages off, even if they are printed like the rest of the fabric. Why? The weave in that thin border area is different from the rest of the fabric. Your project will not look consistent if you incorporate it.
Crafters who don’t like to waste fabric have a tough time tossing out the selvages. Purses and tote bags have been made from them. They’ve even been incorporated into art quilts.
Do you want to find a creative way to use your selvages? Here are a few ideas:
1. Create a funky scarf. Pile them on top of a long strip of soluble stabilizer and stitch them together. Soak the stabilizer and allow to dry before wearing. 2. Tie them in knots all the way around a plain pony tail holder. When you wrap it around your hair, it will look like a spray of fabric! 3. Cut bookmarks from foam or card stock. Punch a hole at one end and tie several selvages through. 4. Cookbook markers. Along the same lines as the bookmarks, you can also use the selvage alone to mark places that you want for easy reference. Use them in cookbooks because they are flat and lightweight and won’t make indentions in the pages. 5. Decorate spunky shoes. Start with a pair of canvas shoes. Hand stitch the selvages on, randomly or with a pattern. Viola! You’re the creator of one of a kind, crafty shoes! 6. Pretty-up some pockets. Stitch selvages onto the pockets of your favorite jeans. For a really fun look, iron on some rhinestones, too! 7. Try trivets! Fold selvages in half and weave several together to make trivets to protect your kitchen counters or table top. 8. Stuff a dog toy. If your dog is like mine, she loves to pull tufts of cotton from her squeaky toys. Selvages seem don’t interest her as much as fiber fill (which means less clean-up for me!) 9. Make dollhouse rugs. It only takes a few to make a dollhouse rug. Braid them together and coil as desired. Secure the coil with a few stitches. 10. Go crazy – on a quilt, that is. Use your selvages in a crazy quilt. It’s an updated look on the Victorian tradition of using scraps of lace and trims.
Until you decide what to do with those selvages, cut them off and store them in a basket. They’ll be kept neatly until you’re ready to use them.