According to the dictionary the selvage or selvedge is: "The edge of a fabric that is woven so that it will not fray or ravel".
What makes selvages so interesting is more about what you might find on them than what they are. The selvage edge may contain valuable information on the colors used in the fabric (shown by those little colored dots or squares), the manufactures name, and sometimes city or country of origin and if you're lucky a date when it was created! This is a historian's dream come true. No more guessing as to when a quilt was made, just read the selvage edge.
Yes that little end of the fabric which you were told time and time again.........to cut off! This is the main ingredient for these new scrappy quilts.
As a quilter and quilt instructor I am always on the hunt for new ideas and patterns, but this one took me by surprise when I stumbled upon a website dedicated to the art of selvage quilting. It never occurred to me to even consider using the selvage edge in my quilts or other sewing projects as it was burned into my brain that this is just waste and you must cut it off! Now that I have had the privilege of seeing how beautiful selvage quilts are, all I can think of is all the wasted fabric rotting in the landfills that I threw away!
Selvage quilts take scrap quilting to a whole new level. They are easy to make. No seams to match, no worries about cutting accurately or whether or not your sewing is even straight. This is economical and stress free quilting!
If you are at all curious and want to know more about how to make a selvage quilt of your own there are many great resources available to get you started. Here are just a few of them.
Selvage Quilts - This is the site that got me started. Karen Griska, the owner also has a book dedicated to selvage quilts appropriately titled "Quilts from the Selvage Edge". You can get more information on her book at this site too. I have the book and absolutely love it! The ideas and photos are great for inspiration and her instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Karen also has a blog where she collects selvage projects from around the web. I encourage you to take a look at her Selvage Blog. One of my favorite creations is the "selvage dress" which can be found on her blog. That is a must see! An entire dress made from selvages, and it isn't as ugly as you would think, quite the opposite it is stunning! Karen encourages all her visitors who get bit by the selvage bug to send in their photos as well, so she can share them with the world.
Another great place for help with your selvage quilts is Quilting Weekly's Home Study Classes. You will find two quilt classes here both working with selvages. One class is titled "Go Green with Selvage Quilts". This class contains a stunning original quilt pattern designed by Chris Dahl which really showcases the selvages and combines them into a stunning geometric pattern that is bursting with color. The second workshop is called "Raking Leaves" which shows you that selvages are not just for quilts, but they can make lovely tote bags too! The best part of this class is you don't need to have a big stash of selvages making it a great place to start.
Now that you are totally enlightened about the potential of selvages in quilting, I would like to leave you with this final thought. "If you have fabric in you home no matter how much or how little please cut off your selvages just like you have been doing for years! But instead of throwing the selvage edges away, why not do your part to help save our planet. Prevent them from filling up your trash cans and eventually ending up in the landfills. Recycle, save money and go create a work of art that will give historians something to talk about long after your gone".